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Danutė Kalinauskaitė was born in 1959 in Kaunas. She graduated with a degree in Lithuanian language and literature from Vilnius University. Kalinauskaitė published her first short stories collection Išėjusi šviesa (Departed Light) in 1987. Despite receiving critical acclaim, Kalinauskaitė withdrew from the world of literature. After a long hiatus, her short story “Namo” (“Home”) was published in the literary magazine Metai in 2003, for which she earned the Antanas Vaičiulaitis Prize. She published more short stories in Šiaurės atėnai before putting together a book published by Baltos lankos in 2008, Niekada nežinai (You Never Know). According to poet and essayist Kęstutis Navakas, this book solidified Kalinauskaitė as a the principal contemporary Lithuanian writer. In 2015, she published the fiction collection Skersvėjų namai (The Drafty House, Tyto alba). Kalinauskaitė received The Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts in 2017. Her most recent book Baltieji prieš juoduosius was published in 2023 by Tyto alba. Kalinauskaitė’s works have been translated into English, German, Italian, Russian, Latvian, Croatian, Polish, Swedish, Danish, and Georgian.

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reflections on belonging

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Graphic Novels

Saulius Paukštys, Family. Photo collage, 23 x 28 cm. From the MO Museum collection

 

danute kalinauskaite white vs black 03

An excerpt from the novel White vs. Black

Translated from Lithuanian by Romas Kinka

 

 

 

White vs. Black[1]

 

 

Mum was moving about on the other side of the wall. She’s soon going to come in with a piece of paper and a pencil she’s gnawed on and ask when she should take her blue tablet. Hunched over at the table from the worry, she’ll write: 7.00 p.m. and underline it. Even though I’ve already told her that about fifty times today. I’ve also told her we’re on the seventh floor because we’re not at home, or to be exact, we are at home but not at THAT home, nobody’s chopping firewood or feeding the chickens here. Despite all that, in five minutes she’ll ask if I’ve broken off some leaves, if I’ve fed the pig, if I’ve collected the apples, if I’ve put out some water for Kaliukas… In my thoughts I was involuntarily drawing maps, maps of Brazil and America, of Kaunas and Vilnius, I was drawing trajectories, I was treading on paths into the darkness.

Relatives… I had distanced myself from my relatives. Relatives are – I know this sounds unbecoming and untraditional, so un-Lithuanian - a pure formality, as long as you don’t lie to yourself, like clumps of infusoria, algae, fungi, the forms of which, working their way through generation after generation, become of a higher and higher order until eventually they turn into human beings with faces, with first names and surnames, with whom one has to and will still have to jostle in this life. The drawing up of an affidavit will burden them – and the worst thing, even the dead - with duties! I don’t know why – of course, I was a person cut adrift from my roots, living only for today! – I wasn’t burning with the desire to have anything to do with people who were strangers and distant to me, to whom I was tied due to the obligation of kinship by threads of blood like shoelaces. What could these people really mean to me? Increasingly, I tried to avoid meaningless ties, the inevitable intrigues and reproaches, the gossiping, the rhymed greetings said at the table, the useless daughters-in-laws, the spineless sons-in-laws, the shrewish mothers-in-laws, the restless grandchildren, whittling away at rhododendron stems with kitchen knives and throwing a ton of firewood down the well, the wedding hostesses[2] and bridesmaids, the matchmakers with noses red from drink, the anniversaries with Lithuanian folk sashes worn across the chest, the nonsensical toasts and grave-site banalities, and the mandatory jealousy between relatives. When I arrived at my godmother’s funeral, which I found out about by chance, only when I got a phone call from her friend, an old lady the same age as her, the eyes of those huddled together by the coffin were turned on me. And this AS WELL? After everything’s already been divided up? Written down and under seal? For my relatives the deceased had ‘overstayed her welcome’– an old person, and not just old but also unmarried, childless, hanging on to life for too long – someone who everywhere, throughout the whole world, for all races and nationalities, has become a thorn in the backside. I saw how that friend of my godmother who had called me bent down and whispered something quietly into the deceased’s ear – they spoke to one another in some way not privy to anyone else, saying perhaps we’ll meet soon, don’t be sad there, you won’t be on your own for long, just don’t forget to close the flue at night, or something along those lines. And then ‘Broken String’ came on: line up to the left, line up to the right, those with flowers step forward, those without flowers step back, carry the coffin out, transport it to the cemetery. Bury the coffin. The hour comes. And the relatives, avoiding one other’s glance, soon disperse with sand stuck to their shoes and looking like cockroaches disturbed when the lights are switched on.

I had never taken any interest in those distant generations. Why would I have? What did I care about people buried one on top of another in layers in far-away villages, buried in sand and clay? Overgrown with ferns. Their graves fallen in, sucked in by the earth. Burned. Vanished in Brazil and the Americas. On clouds of down in paradise or in the cauldrons of hell. For eternity.

A person cut adrift from my roots, living only for today, yes, but now… Am I now going to drink from a pool of water I’d spat into? Am I going to try and retrieve all the names that have disappeared into oblivion until I’ve retrieved them all? All the voices? All the bones? Am I also going to apologise humbly to those bones? A phone call from my sister completely finished me off.

‘YOU are still considering things? YOU are still indulging yourself in philosophising? “We’re going to use mum”? What’s all this nonsense you’re spouting? You’re not thinking of mum – you’re thinking of yourself, you egoist! Do you know that people nowadays can dig back five hundred years while four generations are too much for you?!’ she said at the other end of the line, unable to control herself.

‘Yes, I know, people dig back…’ – I saw an army of little people with spades, digging up the molehills of the past, - I hadn’t thought about us. Only about myself. And only about not wanting to unearth anything.

Not dig anywhere…

Finally, my sister came out with her final argument:

‘If we are entitled to that money by inheritance, it would be a crime not to take it! If that’s what you want – it would be a crime against Mykolas…’

Little Mykolas…Whenever I think about him a picture from an atlas of anatomy opens up before my eyes, an atlas we’ve all looked at so many times it’s falling apart: the auricle, the malleus, the anvil, the eardrum, the canals, the trumpet, the cochlea, the greenish auditory nerve looking like a dill stalk – the twisted labyrinths along which sound travels to the brain, but our sound, - yes, the nerve particular to our clan, - doesn’t travel anywhere. What is in little Mykolas’s brain – is the silence of marble. Your try to think about ears that have been bricked up and you can’t, you try to think about the world, about a wall suddenly being pulled down and crashing deafeningly into his head and your imagination fails you. The image of Valda desperately banging pots and spoons surfaces before your eyes. All who visit bang on things. As I do. But there is no reaction, no action from him, he makes no eye contact, if he has no hearing for another year or two, he will never speak – there can be hearing without speech, but there can be no speech without the ability to hear. ‘A mute,’ my mum says stating the fact simply. Were there any mutes in our family? There were… A shameful gene which everyone spoke about only under their breath, - it had disappeared for two generations and had now resurfaced and if that wasn’t enough, it seems there was also atrophy of the optic nerve, meaning he will know the world only by touching it with his tongue and the palms of his hands, and on top of that there is also agenesis of the corpus callosum, and on top of that epilepsy…sy…sy… God is sometimes so generous!

How long can we wait?

We can’t wait, says Valda, suddenly calm, peaceable. You have to know we can’t wait, not even for a bit. Because of the turn in things. ALL OF US will now have to try our hardest. All us relatives.

 

◆   ◆ ◆

 

Perhaps we don’t have to go as far back as Adam and Eve, but if with some effort we were to begin with my mother’s great-grandfather, even then we have very little information and what there is very fragmentary – like the peeling hundreds-of-years-old frescoes in old churches. A refugee from Vilnius to the Augustów Governorate[3] to avoid being pressganged into the Russian army. Born in 1840. Without a passport, without any identification. Passports were not necessary in those days, you could just give whatever surname you wanted and no one would look for you. He acquired a mill with beautiful hand-made wooden sails, how no one knew, not even he himself, it seemed like a gift fallen from the heavens, it was said he had won it gambling in a tavern, and in the morning, rubbing his eyes and shaking his head, he could hardly believe his luck. As a photograph, the colour of moss, attests, he had an impressive white moustache (with flour on it?), which we used to twist on a hot nail. Out of real love, he married the estate owner Vasilevska’s maid by the name of Simforija, a merry young woman with a heavy crown of plaits the colour of ripe ears of grain, who, being ten years older, turned his head with her ways, with morning coffee served in bed in a thimble, with her knitted knickers, and with her upper-class avoidance of eating fatback, but she died in a pool of blood giving birth to their firstborn in 1861. He, left with a baby on his hands, was offered another woman, sturdy and red-cheeked, but he said: ‘I don’t need someone to work a plough, I need a wife.’ Three months later he married his second wife, by the name of Elzė, a seventeen-year-old, high-breasted, with fertile thighs, but not yet prepared to settle down – she returned home after a week, making clear her feelings with the words ‘I’m fed up!’, climbed up on the tiled cockle stove and did not agree to climb off it for a long time. After a month of sleeping with her eyes open, she calmed down and placidly with her head down came back to Timotiejus and bore him eleven children.

Timotiejus… It’s said he used to like inviting his neighbours to visit with the words: ‘Come round, Jonas, and spend some time with us, it’s the right thing to do...’ There was the time in church – during the years when gendarmes from the pulpit would check with binoculars who was reading a Lithuanian prayerbook[4] - his cap slid out of his hands. It was stuffy inside the church, with people squeezed together, and the men and the women kicking his cap as if on purpose further away from him, he began squirming, forgetting about Our Lady, to whom he had been fervently praying up till that point, and frantically looking around for his cap, but the feet of the parishioners had kicked it away and he was filled with horror: Oh, God, he had no cap to put on his head!

At the end of his tether, hungry, dying of thirst, hiding in a small wooded area, he waited until it got dark – at home everyone had been worried for some time and it had been agreed that they would light a lantern and go looking for him and calling his name – only then did he find his way home using the bushes for cover and walking along the river. Creeping home like a thief. I’m so ashamed, so terribly ashamed, he complained crying, shaken to his very depths, put to bed by his wife and children, as if it was not his cap that he had come home without. But without his head. In other words – as if no longer a human being!

So, that’s all there is about Timotiejus. Just fragments: a cap, a head.

His son Venansijus, my mother’s grandfather, was born right after the abolition of slavery in 1861, after Alexander II signed the February Manifesto. A truly free man! He always thought, he was even convinced and had concocted the theory, that his mother in order to give birth to him in a free land had kept him in her womb longer than she should have and that, to tell the truth, had cost her her life, while he, until reaching adulthood, also had to pay dearly for that every day by being an orphan … Like his father, he was a strange man, with a deeply buried secret. But show me someone without a secret. Tall, sturdily built. He wore a long sheepskin coat and in winter, shivering with cold in all his joints, he would burst into the room in a cloud of steam hitting the children who were underfoot with the icy flap of his coat. He was not given to small talk. If he did on occasion smile, and that was very rarely, it was only with his eyes, not everyone understanding that it was a smile, most often it would seem to turn into a mocking grimace. His gaze was piercing. Even though when talking at someone he never looked directly at them, only sideways or past them into the distance, he would already have looked right through them. Their kidneys and liver. Having measured their heart to determine whether it was wide or the size of a needle’s hole. He would never cheat anyone – that was his firm principle, - giving those buying apples from his orchard only nice ones (grandmother Ona was clever and cunning, glance away even for a moment - and she would immediately slip in apples that were small and sour). But he really didn’t like it when any of the neighbours came round to visit. He would never invite anyone to the table. Unless there was a reason for it but even then – he preferred to have them sit on the bench in the yard. Even better standing up. And better still at the fence.

An odd person. He would even take apart an article of clothing he had just come back with from a shop, unpick the seams and re-stitch it. Caps in particular. Each and every one of his caps he’d re-stitch. It’s as if he were re-stitching his head. As if some riddle had been sewn into the cap, and if you were to solve the riddle then you would understand the way the world works. Such inquisitiveness of mind: how and from what something was made, but most importantly – why. All his life he had an itch to find out how things worked. He brought home a wartime explosive that he’d never seen before, tried to do something with it and take out the capsule, the resulting explosion took off part of his left thumb and index finger, and all off his middle finger, which ended up stuck to the wall of the smithy and which he himself had to scrape off.

He was the first in Uosiai[5] to get a radio receiver, as soon as they appeared – a detector set with earphones. He would listen to the news, the ear yearning for the crackling sound of the air waves, sounds that came from the universe, which had no beginning and no end – but surely the edge had to be somewhere, how could there be no edge?! – of particular concern to him were: the light of the galaxies, the planets, star clusters, asteroids, comets, meteors, black holes, dead stars, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor… As he was listening to the radio with his earphones on, there was thunder and suddenly lightning struck the antenna, his ears were scorched, and he was shaken to his foundations…

From then on, he acquired the miraculous power to heal the paralysed and those subject to epileptic fits, the so-called ‘wind-blown’. Treating all of them with the same medicines to calm the nerves – sodium, potassium, strontium bromides, and other medicines that could be used for that purpose were a thuja decoction, cream of tartar – tartaric acid, and Epileptikon for epilepsy. He liked to say in a doctor’s tone of voice: ‘Refrain for a while from listening to loud music, from salty food, dancing and carnal pleasures. Eat only dairy products.’ And to say, stringing out each syllable: ‘3 times a day 25 drops each time before food.’ He had learned that from a certain Russian feldsher, who would regularly send him to pharmacies in Kaunas to buy medicines.

Venansijus was passionate about pharmacies. He took his first steps in the field from a pharmacist in Aleksotas[6]. As soon as he crossed the pharmacy’s threshold, he was spellbound by the semi-darkness of that extraordinary place, his nose tickled by the explosive mixture of smells: xeroform, Vishnevsky’s ointment, medicinal herbs, eucalyptus, iodine, rosin; mixing rosin into a solid ointment – a priest’s housekeeper knew how to make the mixture and taught him how to do it – he would also add honey, hare fat and wax, he’d put that ointment on an axe wound, and a miracle would happen – the open wound would begin to shrink before one’s eyes. But in the pharmacy for him it was the smell of menthol that overpowered everything. As soon as he entered, he was greeted by a glass jar with leeches in water – the hirudin in those horrid creatures sucking at your sinful flesh reduces blood clotting and when those creatures, sated, let go, they flop on the floor and burst, and one’s blood pressure goes down at the same time. And here’s zinc – Joseph’s drops for the eyes. Here’s Szara maść, the foul-smelling grey ointment for scabies. Macica drops from the fantastic-looking Gentian tincture bottle for the uterus. Sanoco for whooping cough and tuberculosis. Strips of skin from the backs of prisoners (rebels were particularly suited for this purpose!) to be used for dressing wounds. The dried urinary and genital organs of Siberian beavers for virility. A man coming from a far-off village for these glands with musk would start bellowing ‘help!’ as soon as he arrived at the door. It was only the man’s voice that was big and loud, his sexual organs, Jesus help him, were so withered that they were almost not there! But the pharmacist, calling the unfortunate man ‘my dove’, would immediately calm him down and put him back on his feet.

Dark cabinets with hand-made glass – in the light, the glass didn’t look like glass but like flowing water. Small drawers. Venansijus’s eyes traced every inch of the oak cabinets, the apothecary jarswith enamelled inscriptions on them behind the glass doors – and once out of the pharmacy, the names would reverberate in his ears like the litany said on All Saints: hemoglobinum, mentholum, ferrum reductum, chininum bromatum... With guile and cunning, he managed to sneak into the laboratory: a press like a small guillotine for squeezing the juice out of herbs, pestles, graters, funnels, scales to weigh poison. A book of poisons. A young fledgling of a doctor prescribes doses of morphine that are too high, while the pharmacist red in the face with agitation crosses things out of the prescription in red and returns that bit of paper to that ignoramus because if he had allowed it to go through, it would have meant, psia mać, a stopped heart ready to be served up on a plate!

The pharmacist, a talkative man with a pince-nez, without the least suspicion of Venansijus’s hidden passion bordering on criminality, is engaged in conversation while weighing out some powder, with Venansijus stealing the dosage with his eyes, and who, once outside and round the corner, will write everything down into a note book, and later when alone will mix and package the powder mixture – his hour of judgment having come, he, a well-built man with a bristling moustache has a tiny little spoon in front him, he sucks in his stomach, stops breathing – no careless sneezes! – until he with lips pursed pours the powder into a specially folded piece of paper, nicely tucking in the ends, and then puts the packages into the compartments of a box lined with cherry-red velvet. The box stuffed full is his award for bravery.

The sick would come to Venansijus from all over, even from as far away as Königsberg, covering hundreds of versts. In the yard there was always a carriage or a one-horse buggywith someone ill inside it, sometimes their bodies already getting cold, the people that had arrived, after taking off their caps and forgetting their pride, would kneel down to kiss his hands and feet.

But lying was something he didn’t know how to do.

There was the time when he was invited to step outside. A phaeton was standing in the yard, he already could tell from afar that these were wealthy Jews. Coming closer, he clearly heard what a human ear is not supposed to hear – silence: in the phaeton with a partially opened top there sat a young woman who was not breathing. Well-dressed, with small hands and high heels the height of the span between the thumb and the index finger when stretched out – it was those short little legs made to look longer that immediately caught his attention. Frightened, she didn’t even look at him. Her parents, who had quietly walked to the side, wanted her to speak for herself. Finally – throwing herself into the abyss – she broke the silence, saying: ‘I would very much ask the doctor for some medicine to make me grow…’ God’s miracle would be ten centimetres,’ she said, choking with tears, and grabbed hold of his hand, and in that doll’s face he saw the anguish that only a hundred-year-old soul can know, but she didn’t dare to hope for ten centimetres, five would be enough, at least five, doctor! If only he could do that, her fate depended on that! She can’t return with nothing, the doctor was her last hope…But he only took the hand of the young woman stunted in growth, kissed it and, looking at her chestnut eyes, said: ‘No, my dear. I can’t do that. He and I have not come to such an agreement. If I were to take away His work, He would be very very upset.’ He said it gently and yet so firmly that they, without uttering another word, got back in their phaeton and drove off.

Venansijus’s hair never turned grey, it only became thinner and less thick. He died dark-haired.

After the start of World War II, a Russian soldier came into the empty house (Where had they all gone? Where were his children? Where was Ona?). He looked around. He did nothing to the dying old man, whose eyes were no longer seeing this world. He didn’t even try to rob him. A Russian liberator, he didn’t even want to take his watch, he didn’t rummage through drawers looking for silver spoons or ladles, he just took off his cap and with a wave of his hand (‘fuck it all’) left.

Venansijus heard how outside the windows the world was crumbling and falling apart. A mortar shell flew like a giant pellet into the bedroom above the bed below the ceiling, releasing white clouds, and went through the wall to the outside, flying on, it exploded by the Tupčiauskas house, making a huge hole and killing Mrs Tupčiauskas who was milking the cow, she rose into the air like a splinter of wood, while the bent bucket with milk in travelled whistling through the air for three hundred metres and landed in the deep part of the river. Venansijus just closed his eyes: how absurd it all was. The shell was absurd. The war was absurd. He is leaving this world. Before closing his eyes for the last time, he remembered his beloved brother, his bright, moon-like oval face and how at the Kaunas railways station they had said their goodbyes for the last time, how they had slapped each other on the shoulders and clouds of flour had risen from their old-fashioned coats…

‘Was Ona your grandmother, mum?’

‘That horrible woman?’

That horrible woman was a tall, good-looking brunette from a family of freed peasants from Suvalkija[7], and that was why she was so haughty. She was straight-backed, statuesque, with an eagle nose, pronounced cheekbones, large hands and feet. In her youth she used to dance in the hay barn red in the face with her arms around a bundle of straw. She always cared about her appearance, using creams and washing with Lily of Milk soap, because she believed skin should be like velvet. In her old age she had false teeth fitted – a rarity in those days, her daughter Eloyza, who took after her, later went off to America, If Ona dressed up, the fabric she wore had to be heavy, satiny, so that the sun and the shadows would play day and night in the folds. But most frequently she was all black. Holding a hammer and an axe. In the yard, in the barn, in the forge. On her horse. She would fly along the river like an American Indian chasing someone to scalp, her horse’s hooves thundering under her. In the kitchen, she lacked space, she had no room to move about amongst all the boring utensils. It was said she rarely smiled and laughed even more rarely. But in her heart, it seemed, she often laughed. At fools. At cowards. And especially at foolish women. She belonged to the Trinitarians, but reading a piece in the periodical Varpelis published by the Trinitarians of St Francis about visiting the St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the pious Italian women who, when going to church and not having a hat, would cover their heads at least with a handkerchief or a glove, and if they didn’t even have that, then a handbag ‘so as to maintain modesty in their attire because Jesus was not a suitor’, she couldn’t stop herself from chortling: well, no one was ever going to see Ona with a basket on her head. She read books: Vienuolis’s Guest from the North, Šatrija Ragana’s On the Old Estate, Vincas Uždavinys’s 10,000 Kilometres – about the journey of Lithuanian pilgrims to a Catholic Eucharistic congress in Algiers, Genovaitė, Dante…She read the newspapers, and not just Varpelis[8]. Playing cards, she would discuss politics with the men on an equal level. She particularly liked to talk about Churchill, that port-loving stammerer, who, it had to be said, was no fool. She liked to tell stories – her very favourite story was about Tsar Nicholas II visiting these lands. At every telling she would incorporate some exciting new details: in 1913, on the Feast of the Assumption, yes, yes, you heard that right, - looking inscrutable, she would hold her cards fanned out against her face, - the Russian Tsar, the last Romanov, was here, visiting these lands… It was here on Napoleon’s Hill, over a period of a month all the bushes were cut down, even large trees were not spared, just think – not even oaks, steps were dug into the hill and covered with red carpeting, railings installed, and at every metre, right up to the very top, rows of soldiers were crammed in. In this vale of tears everyone was ordered to sit at home and stay out of the way during the Tsar’s visit. And then, what do you think, happens? The Tsar’s train stops. His Imperial Majesty gets off right in front of our hillfort with his entourage, takes a few steps, looks around and suddenly taken by surprise asks: and where are the people? Is there a living soul here? Is this area – inhabited? How could he know? Why would His Imperial Majesty be expected to know things of such trifling importance? To know that before the arrival of the train a Cossack on horseback brandishing a Nagant revolver flew through our street, ordering all the lowly insects living here in the strictest terms to close themselves up in their houses and even to cover their windows. And not dare to release even the smallest fart. His Imperial Majesty together with his epaulettes slowly goes up the hill on the red stair carpet, walks around up there for about half-an-hour, looking probably in the same direction where once Napoleon, that small fart, also looked – at the Nemunas: admiring the surrounding countryside, looking where to build a bridge.

And the soldiers all in a sweat were running into the houses, urging the ground beetles to crawl outside and shout ‘hurrah!’ to the Tsar. At ‘hurrah!’, Ona slammed a strong or even winning card on the table. But, she says, no one in this province was allowed near the holy train, apart from a few nicely dressed young women who managed to see from close up the Tsar, the Tsarina, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse, and, most importantly, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Maria, Tatiana, and Anastasia. ‘I would have been amongst them!’ Ona says confidently, and sometimes even shouts, laying down, if she has one, a trump card, a joker or the ‘broom’ sweeping up all the opponents’ cards. ‘I wouldn’t have just sat there like a hen for all the money in the world.’ She never just sat around. And the cards she held were always the right ones.

‘Ona, was she religious?’

‘Ona?! She was a fraud! A liar! She belonged to the Trinitarians, but God was not to blame for that,’ mum didn’t have the breath to relate all of Ona’s bad qualities, which expressed themselves in unparalleled egoism, indifference to her neighbours, and most importantly – in those accursed apple pancakes: fried in lard they would melt into a heavenly miracle, spreading such a divine aroma. Truly divine… They remained an unhealed wound: Ona never gave those pancakes to her grandchildren on the other side of the tracks. Never! And even after many years they still melt in the mouth untasted. ‘I didn’t love her. I didn’t even go to her funeral. She never rocked me on her knee. She didn’t let me jump up and down on her bed. She never gave me any pancakes…’

Ona died very peacefully, it wasn’t a Native American lying there in the bed, one who used to ride thundering past on her horse, but another woman in her place, an old woman. Clean, white, innocent – only infants and old people, sexless right before their end on earth, are that innocent. She fell into an eternal sleep, with one hand holding the edge of her blanket and the other placed on her chest. Death has never come more easily.

 

 

1. Danutė Kalinauskaitė. Baltieji prieš juoduosius [White vs. Black]. Vilnius: Tyto alba, 2023, p. 19-33.

2. Translator’s note. In traditional Lithuanian weddings the matchmaker and the wedding hostess (Lith. svočia) were in overall charge of the proceedings.

3. Translator’s note. The Augustów Governorate established in 1837 and disestablished in 1867 was an administrative unit of Congress Poland with laws initially different to those pertaining to the rest of the Russian Empire.

4. Translator’s note. The Russian authorities imposed a ban on all Lithuanian publications using the Latin alphabet after the Polish-Lithuanian insurrection of 1863-1864, the ban lasting from 1865 to 1905. Books in Lithuanian and in the Latin alphabet were published abroad, mainly in Lithuanian Minor, that part of East Prussian with a culturally important Lithuanian minority, and smuggled across the border into Russian-controlled Lithuania.

5. Translator’s note. Uosiai is a village in southwest Lithuania, now in the Vilkaviškis district municipality on the border with Poland and formerly East Prussia (now the Kaliningrad Region).

6. Translator’s note. A suburb of Kaunas.

7. Translator’s note. A traditionally affluent agricultural region of southwest Lithuania.

8. Translator’s note. All the books mentioned in this paragraph were popular in Lithuanian before World War II: Antanas Vienuolis’s novel Viešnia iš šiaurės [Guest from the North] was published in 1933; Šatrija Ragana’s novella Sename dvare [On the old estate] in 1922; Vincas Uždavinys’s 10 000 kilometrų [10,000 kilometres] in 1932; and Genovaitė, the legend of Genevieve of Brabant, a virtuous wife falsely accused of infidelity, was first translated into Lithuanian in the mid-19th century and later reprinted a number of times.

 

 

 

© Danutė Kalinauskaitė, 2023

M. C. Escher’s „Encounter“ © 2023

The M. C. Escher Company-The Netherlands All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com

© Sigutė Chlebinskaitė, cover design, 2023

© Tyto alba, 2023

© Translation by Romas Kinka, 2023

 

 

 

 

 

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