When I was a child, the word ‘Russia’ was, for me, one synonymous with tragedy. As my father spoke about our family story, his face fell as if he himself could feel the pain of all those who had suffered at the hands of the communists.
Memories were bittersweet. His mother, Eugenie Fraser, was a Russian emigree to Scotland in 1917. In her autobiography, The House by the Dvina, she documented the dramatic tale of how, as a teenager, she had sought refuge aboard a ship bound for Dundee with her mother, their jewellery and roubles sewn into their petticoats. After the revolution, my grandmother would never see her father and grandparents again. Those left behind met a sorry fate, having lost everything.
I am reminded of this story today as I watch countless Ukrainian refugees leave their families, and everything they hold dear, at the hands of Russian aggression, and I ask myself if there is some tragic inevitability to all this. Is Russia a nation fated to be associated with tragedy and suffering?
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