Today M. became president and in the mean time all the newspapers have run news about Stalin’s popularity. They say he is one of the most beloved personalities here in Russia. Comrade Stalin. That is how I used to call him, in my early morning visits. We were not friends I was as any other person a civil servant in the Soviet Union, like the rest of us, but had the fortune or misfortune as many might say today, to work closely with him. I don’t even know why today as I read the paper my memory sent me to those times. Perhaps seeing the photograph of comrade Stalin with his vision thrown somewhere in the distance and a smile directed to no one compels me to tell what not many people know about him. Of course as you dear reader might expect what I’m about to say is not a story of Stalin’s infamous murders, or trials not even about his coming to power, what I am about to reveal is a side of him only a few of us knew and were sworn to secrecy and to take it with us in our grave. My comrades who met the creator before surely did, perhaps they forgot to reveal it perhaps out of reasons of loyalty to their leader, and perhaps they might have been afraid of being tormented by comrade’s Stalin’s ghost. I suppose thousands or millions are the reasons why the story didn’t find its way in the press or some TV news after the fall. Now dear reader you might be wondering and asking then what is making me to break that promise. Oh, dear when one has lived and seen as much as I have there are no longer concerns with tormenting ghosts, who come and dine with me awaiting my passing, nor am I concern of meeting comrade Stalin on the other side, hell that is. We will be after all under the same Master, with whom we made a pact from the start. How do I know that I’ll end up in the same place with Stalin? Redemption is not something I hope to acquire on the other side when I meet my creator, the years of praying can not compensate for what my eyes have seen, my hands have committed and ears have heard. I have lived my hell already body and soul, now I am close to putting my body to rest, and my soul where it belongs. No regrets. But before I’ll go have decided to leave behind my secret. Comrade Stalin was a man of great stature and a brutal one too (I can admit that know) but there was a softer side of him that he never showed to many people, only to us the closed circle, I’m not sure whether his wife was in the know. Stalin loved flowers and knew them even by their Latin name. Early mornings in his usual military uniform, he would go into the designated area that was rightfully known as Comrade’s garden, situated in a corner of his palace-home. He would tend to the flowers one by one, deadheading them, working the soil, fertilizing it, watering and all. We, the circle sworn to secrecy, were to meet him often in his garden. There were times when as I gave him the briefings he would stand in a line of fresh cut flowers and figuring out how to better arrange them in a vase and take them inside. Than as a painter stepping away from the canvas to value his creation, so too Stalin would step a bit away and immerse himself completely at that moment to admire the bouquet, his bouquet. At times he would bow his head and dive into the multitude of their fragrances, combined in an ethereal one. It was in this moment when his face would soften and he would turn to us, to me, and talk about them as the most wonderful object that had ever existed. Once I found him pacing up and down the garden, when I approached him there were tears in his eyes. Comrade Stalin was deeply saddened. One of his favorite flowers had withered away as if someone had sipped the life away from it overnight. He was faulting himself for the loss. Then he turned to me and made me swear again to secrecy for his shad tears. The softer side of Comrade Stalin has remained with me as I fulfilled happily my service to our Soviet Republic, just as every moment when countless of orders were whispered out of his mouth to imprison, execute, transfer, torture, destroy the lives of millions of Russians, while tending to the garden. Yet they still love him!
© Aida Dismondy, November 17, 2008