Why have I, in the autumn of my days, decided to recall my roots and to write down the story of my long life?
In 2002, to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sergey Lebedev, member of the Soviet Academy of Science and the creator of the first Soviet computer, his children asked me to write about my long-standing friendship with Sergei Alekseevich and his family. In the process, I had to touch upon certain events and periods in my own life that were connected with the Lebedevs. My friends and family liked my writings and began asking me to write some more about myself.
Although I dismissed their requests at first, I recognized how important it is for children and grandchildren to know about their forefathers. For my part, I really regret not asking more questions of my father and mother, which left me with a less than coherent picture of their lives.
Of course, I had misgivings. After all, most people never write their memoirs and are, I think, quite right not to.
In the 1950’s, when the worst years of Stalinist terror were past and life was beginning to assume a more orderly and calmer pace, I often felt that I had been spared the worst trials – the prisons and the Gulag, the battlefields of WWII, or the starvation of the blockade of Leningrad. I had never had to get to the end of myself and therefore did not know how I would have held up under such trials; would I have cracked, surrendered to fear? As grateful as I am to have been spared, I have not thereby earned the right to write memoirs; who wants to know about such an ordinary life?
Still, the onslaught continued, led by my son and family and reinforced by friends – the Lebedevs, then a daughter of my other close friends who, after reading my notes on the Lebedevs, asked me to write about her own parents. It was beginning to look as though my memories might hold some interest at least for a small number of those most dear to me.
“In light of the foregoing,” as they say in bureaucratese, I decided to give it a try -- in spite of my misgivings. I am aware of my increasing physical limitations and the limited time remaining, which may, for all I know, run out tomorrow. I am also mindful of the need for tact and sensitivity to protect the feelings of those I write about, or the feelings of their loved ones, when they themselves have passed on. And yet, I look forward to this work: as much for the mental challenge as for the thrill of recalling my past. Well then – here goes.