Autumn does weird things to me. After spending a few hours listening to Arthur Meschian's songs and reading Mark Grigorian's posts about Yerevan and about his grandfather, an Armenian architect who, among other things, designed Matenadaran, I felt homesick - in a way I had never experienced homesickness before.
Suddenly, I was craving to look at all the old photos and papers stored back home in Kyiv, a messy and neglected collection, some of it packed into an ancient suitcase that I keep in my room, the rest hiding somewhere in the dark and dusty mazes of the so-called entresol, a space I've never really explored.
Home is where all this stuff is. A family history that's too sketchy and disorganized, that won't reveal itself unless someone talks about it. And my father's no longer around to talk about his part of this history. My history, too - but most of it out of reach now.
In Kyiv, I keep promising myself to buy a scanner next time I'm there, then sit down and go through as much of this paper and photo stuff as possible. But I never do this somehow. Part of me, I guess, is scared of attempting to connect with the family's past: what if I fail to connect - or, what if I find something I don't want to find there?
Here in Moscow, I only have a few photos of my father's father, and a few of my mother as a little girl. And I've a scanner here. So, to alleviate this unusual homesickness, I went ahead and scanned those few photos of Sergei Andreevich Khokhlov that I keep in the little pocket of my Dear Diary.
I don't know as much as I'd like to know about my grandfather. He was a very good man, everyone used to say. He died in 1969, unexpectedly, due to a surgery gone bad, at the age of 61. My father missed him very much, but he rarely talked about him - or maybe I just didn't listen well enough. I love to look at the photos of him: I find him very handsome. He had some Greek roots, according to my father (I wrote more about it here). He had nothing to do with tennis and was pretty upset when my father quit his studies at the Construction Engineering Institute after one year and switched to sports. For a while, he was furious, actually. He worked as a quantity surveyor (I had to look up the translation of the boring Russian term "сметчик": it sounds as boring in English). He was said to be the best quantity surveyor in Ukraine at some point, whatever that means. I had spent some time looking at his work-related papers - and also at his insanely detailed calculations for repairs in our two-room apartment (hilarious stuff, somehow) - and even though I don't understand anything about the field he worked in, I do understand that he was a very stubborn and meticulous person. And very independent. I find it moving. And I'm proud of him. And I'll try to write more about all this later. For now, here are some of his photos.
With my father - who looks Marta's age on the first picture and a little bit older on the second one, so this must be one of the last pre-war years, 1939 or 1940, but there's no way of knowing for sure, I guess:
At some party at our place in Kyiv, with my father's friends - gymnasts Yuri Titov, Boris Shakhlin and Larisa Latynina - Olympic and world champions (only these three are identified on the back of this photo in my mother's handwriting):
And some miscellaneous photos: