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LJ Idol X - 6: Heel turn (~600 words)

My grandmother had two sons. The elder son was my father, the younger was my uncle Kolya.

My father was a "good" child, quiet, industrious, seldom in trouble, if you don't count him missing a lot of classes one term in college in favour of going to sports competitions.

My uncle Kolya, he, was boisterous and as gifted in the literary arts as my father was in physics and mathematics.

Only where my father went to college, graduated as an aviation engineer and a lieutenant of the reserve, then served for two years in the army, then worked in science and helped develop two or three inventions,

my uncle Kolya did almost the exact opposite. He dreamed of college too, and of becoming a writer, but in high school, he got mixed up with a crowd of juvenile offenders among whom the idea of the then obligatory army service was unpopular, and whose way out of this civil duty was committing a minor offence punishable by jail, because those who had been in jail were exempt from military service.

And to jail he went. The letters he sent to grandmother while doing his time are preserved in the family archive, and it was from them that I learned what little I know about uncle Kolya as a young adult. They are sad and odd, these letters, full of remorse that feels genuine, and dreams of a better future; most of the letters end in requests of material items, or small sums of money.

Uncle Kolya did not hold a college degree, and I do not know if he ever tried to enter one. He finished a vocational school instead and became a high-qualification mechanic. His choices though continued to be what could be called not very proper, and ten years later he got a seventeen-year-old girl pregnant and married her by special permission from her parents, because she was not yet of age of eighteen.

His wife left him when the child, my cousin, was only one year old, because uncle Kolya had started drinking somewhere along the way, and she did not feel safe with him anymore. Yet through a miracle of goodwill, she kept a good relationship with my grandmother, and through her, my father's, our, side of the family.

My father, meanwhile, was studying, serving, then working, and eight years after his niece was born, he married my mother and had my brother and I. My parents will have been married for 40 years in 2018.

After the marriage, my father returned to working as an aviation engineer, and raised his children, and opened his home for his parents when they grew older and needed support and care, because uncle Kolya, who they lived with before, was drinking more and more, and was also becoming a violent drunk.

After she moved in with us, my grandmother went to see uncle Kolya every month upon receiving her pension, to buy him food and leave him some money, for because of his drinking, he could hold no post long despite his qualifications. He bought booze at once with the money she brought him, and if she did not leave soon enough, he would often beat her up.

Uncle Kolya died when I was in high school in a house fire he'd started while drunk.

My grandmother passed away seven years later, and as was her wish, she now rests in the same cemetery plot as uncle Kolya for, you see, he has always been her favourite son.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
kehlen_crow
Jan. 24th, 2017 10:08 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

I may have told part of this story in previous seasons of LJ Idol, but this is a different angle.

I wonder how many heel turns you will count in this story :). I had fun trying to write it so it obviously contained several.
dmousey
Jan. 25th, 2017 01:46 am (UTC)
Your father must've been so hurt by that. How sad. Hugs and peace~~~D
st_martin_a
Jan. 25th, 2017 09:32 am (UTC)
Interesting read. It's amazing how siblings lives can turn out so differently.
Interesting to read a short Russian biography too as we get so little information over here of life in Russia.
rayaso
Jan. 26th, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
It is a shame that your uncle caused so much harm to those around him. I loved this look at growing up in Russia, however brief, and I look forward to more.
favoritebean
Jan. 26th, 2017 08:36 am (UTC)
It's strange how love works. I certainly didn't expect that your grandmother would be buried in the same plot as your uncle.
halfshellvenus
Jan. 26th, 2017 08:36 pm (UTC)
:( It's never good when parents have favorites, especially when they enable bad behavior in the favorite and even suffer abuse at his hands!

What a contrast between your father an uncle, and what comparatively stunted life he led. Whatever he might have come around to doing later in life-- perhaps returning to literature-- his alcoholism stole it from him along with so much else.
eternal_ot
Jan. 27th, 2017 12:54 pm (UTC)
This was an interesting read. And I can't even guess how much it must have pained your grandma to see her favorite son being self-destructive. A nice take on the prompt, I agree there were lot of heel turns here.
my_name_is_jenn
Jan. 27th, 2017 03:26 pm (UTC)
It's always interested me how siblings raised in the same house can turn out so differently. Though when a parent has a favorite, it's easy to see why some things happen the way they happen.
bewize
Jan. 27th, 2017 05:30 pm (UTC)
This was sad, but rings all too familiar.
majesticarky
Jan. 27th, 2017 09:41 pm (UTC)
I remember reading about Uncle Kolya before. It's very sad that he couldn't control the alcoholism... a fate that beholds many Russian men.
uselesstinrelic
Jan. 28th, 2017 01:56 am (UTC)
I knew people who had a story like this. One brother who did everything he was asked, was kind, and tried his best. The other who couldn't do a thing right, yet was always the golden child.

I don't know how your father (the father in this story?) handled it, but it did a lot of emotional damage to the brother I knew- the one who could never be good enough. Soon he started to take his constant frustration and disappointment out on others and became almost as destructive as "The Golden Boy." When parents favor a child, it can do terrible damage.

Thanks for this story!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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