'I deal death and give life I wounded and I will heal Non can deliver from my hand'. The Torah/Deuteronomy 32.32 I rode a bus on my way to work. The bus was stuffed so badly, I couldn’t have fallen even if I wanted to. It was 6 AM, already hot and humid. I was half asleep and not in a mood to resist. My face was deeply imbedded below the shoulders of a stocky Ukraine lady. An aroma of Ukrainian nature, mixed with smell of hot, sweaty humane bodies and painful thoughts created a strange combination of excitement, and clutching feeling of insecurity. Large and wet rubber-like ovals, are also a part of the fertile Ukrainian nature reliably protected my face. I d?n' t know who invented airbags but I know where man got the idea. Tomorrow, I am going to apply for immigration. We decided to break this circle of every day meaningless existance. We wanted out of this stupefying life. It wasn’t easy to step out of the crowd and say to THE SYSTEM that kept all of us intimidated for so long:” I want out”. It is frightening to realize that you are about to rebel against THE SYSTEM, which made us all believe that leaving this country is an ultimate act of betrayal of the fatherland: the gravest, most unthinkable and unforgivable crime. If only this lady knew what crime I was about to commit, she would never allowed me to enjoy this hot and spicy spot on her chest. Something interrupted my thoughts; it was time to move. Everyone who is used to riding a bus in our town knows where they are without even looking out of the window. For example, consider my peculiar situation, how could I possibly see where I was? This bizarre sense positioning in space had a simple explanation, the smell. Each part of our industrial city had a specific smell. Our Chemical plant smells differently than our Tractor building plant that builds our glorious tanks. The pride of our town the Smelting plant allowed a sophisticated rider to figure out not just its location but even time of the day. Only the meat processing plant had confused people. It had stopped stinking at all. I finally lowered my left foot, stuck my right elbow between a woman and a youngster, habitually grabbed somebody’s shirt and pushed myself a bit closer to the exit. Spring and summer are the best time for the passengers; light clothing and perspiration help people get in and out of the buses. * I walked home and thought about my father. He was born and grew up in an impoverished Jewish village in Southern Ukraine. The place with population of 300 people has 30 tailors; my father was one of them. He always carried needles and thimbles on him. It had saved him from hunger and once even his life. Bandits captured him during the Civil War and searched before execution. They found his tailor’s tackles and even they, needed somebody to fix their clothes. He survived the wars, the revolutions, lived through poverty, humiliations and Stalin's purges. All this time he sewed, patched, cut, fitted and stitched. I remember him sitting on a kitchen table surrounded with pieces of fabric and newspaper templates, keeping a heavy coat covered with chalk marks on his lap and a needle with a long thread, working, complaining about the government, us kids occasionally biting a thread from a spool or spitting on the floor. A needle became an extension of his hands along with an old table-driven Singer sewing machine. He never admitted his deafness; his right eardrum was shattered during First World War. Only one picture (I still have it) reminded him about his youth. He is in a military uniform his right arm in a sling. Bullet went thru his hand and shattering butt of his rifle. In the picture he is very proud of his wound, his moustache, his masculinity and most of all: his wristwatch. * Our family occupied one small room and a kitchen in a basement without running water, with coal burning stove, which my mother hated so much. The house stood on a very steep, narrow, unpaved, wiggly little street with a washed out by rains deep ditch in the middle. The road was so steep, the first windows with multiply layers of peeling paint and patties stood about 12 foot above ground yet the last rows of windows was half hidden in a cracked concrete pocket two feet below the ground. If I stood on my folding bed that was deployed only at night and looked up in the widow, I could see only the shoes of passerby. Sometimes two or tree pair of shoes stopped in front of the window. The owner of one pair of beaten up sandals complained to the owner of another pair of shoes about her drunkard husband. At other times men stopped to count pocket change in hope of finding enough money to buy a bottle of vodka or cheap wine. After rain it was a great place to sail boats that I built from my mother kindling supply and pieces of newspaper. If it rained too hard, so that I could not run fast enough alone the street, skipping over all the junk on the street and other streams following my boats, there was always a second chance of finding my boat a half mile away in the water collector next to a railroad station. We rented this place from an old lady who everybody new as Savelievna. Savelievna was a very quiet, god-fearing lady who lived with her mentally disturbed son. They lived next to us. During German occupation her son was taken as an eastern slave worker in Germany, was liberated, and then was sent to the GULAG for ten years as a traitor. My father supported his family, gave money to his even more miserable relatives and demanded respect in return. The only communication between my father and us was by shouting in his left ear. If he heard, he answered: 'rubbish', if not the answer was: 'aaaa, just leave me alone'. His understanding of life’s necessities was limited to very basic things: food, clothes and a roof; he couldn't understand why kids need to play with toys or balls, he never played in his life - he's been working since the age of 7. * When we applied for emigration, he was a 90 year old, bad tempered, half deaf and half blind man who packed his room with old clothes, pieces of fabric, fur, and plastic bottles. Nobody needed his services anymore and he stitched anything that he could put his hands on in his constant crave to labor. We were surprised at finding our clothes altered without our permission or things sewn that shouldn’t normally be sewn at all. It wasn't unusual to find his needles in our beds or even food. Sewing was something he could understand in this hostile and complicated world. We took the needles from him in an attempt to make our coexistence safer. It was a time of a relative stability in the Ukraine However, long lines throughout city blocks indicated places where people waited to buy some staples of every day life. My father spent most of his time staying in those long lines in summer's heat or winter's chill, sleet or rain. Once he found an old bag that become his most intimate friend in this lonely life with bleary images of people who didn’t understand him and whom he could not understand. He always carried the bag around, filled up with junk or sat in his room sewing and patching it. This was a way to communicate with a friend. He got up at five in the morning, took his bag and went out looking for something to buy. Sometimes he cut into the line making people mad. He couldn't hear their remarks anyway. If somebody tried to push him out he pushed back, if somebody tried to fight him he fought back. He was a very belligerent man, this little tailor who happened to be my father. * Why did we decide to leave the country? As long as I can remember, we had been constantly reminded that we belong to an especially hated group of people. My passport had the paragraph #5 that stated that I am a Jew, my last name sounded Jewish, my face looked Jewish. I had never seen a synagogue or a religious Jew in my life. I grew up in a small Siberian town East of the Ural Mountains. Once playing on a schoolyard I cut my hand. All the children were amazed seeing my blood, one of them said: “look, his blood is red, my father told me all Jews have black blood”. In public speeches people avoided using the word Jew. This was not a socially acceptable word, avoided in the press. Officials all of a sudden begin sputtering and stuttering when they faced the necessity of saying this word and prefer substitute it for 'Zionist'. They simply didn’t know how publicly pronounce this word without insulting the audience. “Right or wrong” nationality in the Soviet Union was very important. Even meetings at the sewing factory where my father worked and most employee were Jewish, began with such announcement: ”The attendants are 120 people, 40 Russians, 20 Ukrainians, and 60 others nationalities.” The “the other 60 attendants” were Jews. But in 1953 we had come awfully close to a catastrophe. Stalin was about to open a new page in a bloody history of Jews. “Zionist” doctors were accused of killing prominent Soviet leaders. I remember the terror of this time. The press become hysterical, patients in clinics avoided doctors with Jewish names. Savelievna had visited us for a small talk, and then asked for a favor. She said that during the German occupation her Jewish neighbors destroyed their possessions before departure to the concentration camp, and she hoped that we are not like them, we are a decent family and we should take good care about our furniture and leave it for her son who going to get married soon. My mother agreed, and the neighbor left happy. A few months later Stalin suddenly died without fulfilling his last political ambition. Our neighbor never got promised furniture. * Now it was the spring of 1978, we saw a lot of changes that had happened during this quarter century but the essence of the system remained the same. We had the same neighbors; the same furniture and we decided to leave this country for good. We waited for four years in constant fear, surrounded with open hostility, without jobs, treated like leprosy by everyone. Our friends and relatives were afraid visit us daytime. Our daytime visitors were other 'refuseniks'. At this time the city had a few thousand family who became as us-'refuseniks”. We were not “Soviet people” anymore, but had no permission to leave the country. Routinely, once per two weeks we were called to a local KGB office for a brainwashing session. Every six months we have been obligated to update all the papers in our files. (for example, prove that we return all the books in the city libraries.) The problem was nobody wanted to give us these paper because of lack of instructions from authorities, hate, extortion, and envy, that somebody was crazy enough to leave this place. Once they called on my father in attempt to intimidate old man. My father, who remembered the other times when people for lesser offenses got 25 years of labor camp, was absolutely petrified and signed a statement that contradicted our official legend. The major was happy; finally he managed to unmask one more enemy of the state. He invited all of us and with a broad smile on his complacent face informed us about the masterpiece of KGB work. Fortunately, the time of open reprisals has been gone, and local authority didn’t have clear instructions what to do with us. All of a sudden we were subpoena in the main office of KGB where we faced a small committee of definitely not local officials. Without offering us chairs, they looked at us for a few minutes silently and indifferently. As a farmer would look at a sick animal deciding what to do, to sell it or to slaughter, browsed our thick file and whispering something to each other. Then without even looking in our direction major said: 'You may go'. It was obvious; they made an important decision. Our fate was sealed. Two weeks later major secretary called on us again; this time he couldn’t hide his irritation, he tossed a paper in my face and left the room. It was a permission to leave the country, we were so happy, we didn’t know what to make out of it. Later, I figured out that our flat had became what they perceived as a political club and decided to close the place for good. It was clear, the time had changed, they were not sure anymore in their unlimited power. But at this time we were the only family among hundreds 'refuseniks' families in our city allowed to leave the country. We were permitted to cross the border with 120 kg luggage and 400 dollars. It was impossible to convince my father to leave even a part of his 'treasures'. My deaf father with a voice that could awake a whole city block demanded to pack all his stuff. We argue to exhaustion trying to convince him to trash his junk; pieces of lining, fabric, fur, plastic boxes, bottles, old coats, light, warm and very warm underwear and other junk. For him it was a saving of all his life. Dad screamed at us demanding his property back and if you know how loud could be a deaf tailor from a little Jewish place you would know what I mean. Soon we were in Chop - a small border town waiting for a custom. An old Jewish man, tenderly embracing a patched bag, instantly attracted attention of a young vigilant officer. The officer asked my dad to submit his bag for an inspection. Dad couldn't hear him, but if he could, he would never let anyone even touch his treasure. We tried to reason with him; but everything was useless, and finally the officer lost his patience and began pulling the bag from his desperately clutched hands. My dad had strong knotty hands with bulged fingers of a laborer who were used to keep a good grip on any kind of materials, so the Youth was not able to overcome the Age. Suddenly, the Youth lost grip and the Age, evidently in accordance with a good military practice, began a counter offence and hit the opponent with the bag over the head. All our family hung on the old body in an attempt to stop further escalation of violence, and finally the bag has been taken away. The officer was absolutely sure that the close inspection of the bag would yield a matter much more important than an assault on an officer in the line of duty. Maybe it was even a counterrevolutionary plot. An hour later the officer brought the bag back tossed it on a countertop and left, disappointed with the results. The bag was ripped and cut to pieces, and here in the first time I saw my father crying. We boarded a train and it moved slowly and then stopped. It was an open field and rows of guards with dogs on both sides of the train. Everybody left the cars and the guards searched the train inside out and under. Now we finally crossed the Soviet border. From people who were abroad before I heard that the borders guarded against getting out rather then getting in. Shortly, we arrived to Czechoslovakia where we had to change the train. The station officials told us that our new train was located in a half mile away and we had only 15 minutes before the departure. It was a lot of luggage and babies to carry out. We couldn't possible make it on time. But not so friendly railroad employee offered their services payable only in American dollars. When we started to board the train, with our bags, children and old folks, the train began to roll slowly and a thick clouds of steam had wrapped everything, we couldn’t see a thing. People began panicking and scramming. The railroad employee got not just our money; they enjoyed a show too. Very possible the people in charge for the show remembered the other time when such trains were bounded for not so friendly places. * The first smile and eye contact we saw in Vienna. Here, in the airport we were guarded by Israeli security because of Palestinian threats to assassinate people who would go to Israel. It was springtime again, but this time it was not Ukraine, it was Austria. We were guarded by the soldier, but felt freer and safer then into the county where we were born. In the country were our fathers and grandfathers were born, the country we call our Fatherland. Four young Israeli solders with machine guns and very good Russian has formed us to a column and began escorting us to waiting buses. It was a mid of May and very hot. My dad was dressed in a heavy coat with a fur collar, underneath the coat he had two wool sweaters and a few pair of warm underwear, finally on the top of the coat across his shoulders he had the bag. Any attempts to remove even a part of his clothing were categorically rejected. Dad was deeply distressed with all these strange things, but forming a column made him desperate. He couldn’t see or hear very well so he didn’t understand what was going on. I think, it remained him other days when other people have forced him to columns. One of the soldiers approached my dad, looked at him and took him at the head of the column. He asked all of us to keep pace on the old man. In this moment my dad had realized that he was surrounded with armed people. My dad never expected any good from people with guns and suddenly dashed, zigzagging along the street on bent knees as he was taught to do under fire a long time ago. The bags on his back jumped up and down and strike him hard with each hop. I didn’t know which war has snapped in his head: the First, the Civil or the Second, he saw them all. Of course the crowd of former authority abiding citizens eagerly followed the leader. I run too, trying to catch my father. Finally, the accident was resolved and my father was sited into the bus and soon arrived to the Vienna airport. We had a flight to Rome. However, it was not the last endeavor for this arduous day in Vienna. In the airport my father again demonstrated how dangerous could be the little tailor to the western civilization. Every time when he tried to pass the airport gate, he triggered the metal detector. The airport security took him to a separate room and removed everything that could possible cause the problem, but nothing had helped; the gate stubbornly panicked each time my dad approached it. The security took my father to the room again and began undressing him. It wasn’t easy to remove all the clothes but at the end we witnesses my father naked, his wrinkled skinny body was girded with a belt that hold a rag sheath with a big kitchen knife. He looked like a 90 years old Tarzan and was awfully mad at me. He thought that I told the security about the knife,he needed for self-defense,i in the capitalist jungles of America. * I remember him in the nursing home, where this peaceful old man charmed all the staff. I think only now he achieved peace in his heart. He has lost his memory, good and bad. Who knows, maybe it was better for him. But he always remembered picking wild flowers for the nurses, every morning until last day he could walk. Then he sat all day in a wheelchair staring into nowhere. If I put glasses on him, his facial expression would become more sensible and his mummified fingers with big bones began move as if he was trying to finish his last sewing while he still have some time left.