It is an odd thing: a desire comes to me to write, and to write in my faltering mother tongue, which, as it happens, I have not spoken since I left the home of my parents. Far as my childhood years have receded from me, I now suddenly find them coming back to me, closer and closer to me, so near, they could be breathing into my mouth. I see myself so clearly a plump little thing, a tiny girl running all over the place, pushing my way from one door through another, hiding like a curled-up little worm with my feet up on our broad window sills. My father, my mother, the two grandmothers, my handsome grandfather, my own and outside families, the comfortable and the needy, weddings and funerals, our streets and gardens all this streams before my eyes like the deep waters of our Dvina. My old home is not there any more. Everything is gone, even dead. My father, may his prayers help us, has died. My mother is living and God alone knows whether she still lives in an un-Jewish city that Is quite alien to her. The children are scattered In this world and the other, some here, some there. But each of them, in place of his vanished inheritance, has taken with him, like a piece of his father's shroud, the breath of the parental home. I am unfolding my piece of heritage, and at once there rise to my nose the odours of my old home. My ears begin to sound with the clamour of the shop and the melodies that the rabbi sang on holidays. From every corner a shadow thrusts out, and no sooner do I touch it than it pulls me Into a dancing circle with other shadows. They jostle one another, prod me in the back, grasp me by the hands, the feet, until all of them together fall upon me like a host of humming flies on a hot day. I do not know where to take refuge from them. And so, just once, I want very much to wrest from the darkness a day, an hour, a moment belonging to my vanished home. But how does one bring back to life such a moment? Dear God, it is so hard to draw out a fragment of bygone life from fleshless memories! And what if they should flicker out, my lean memories, and die away together with me? I want to rescue them. I recall that you, my faithful friend, have often in affection begged me to tell you about my life in the time before you knew me. So I am writing for you.