#Love! It’s indeed a verb! Reflections on Figes O., Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag

I am out of words to explain my reflection of this book because it is such an in-depth moving story…and worse enough, it’s a true story! A true story about love. A love relationship between Lev and Sveta that could not be deterred by any walls, no matter how thick or high. What an exemplar couple! I think, if anything, their story has highlighted the ‘goodness’ that still exists in the gloomy world.

Lev and Sveta fell in love while they had started university, then war broke in the Soviet Russia, Lev joined the front, taken hostage by the German army, then when the War was over he was arrested and charged under false accusations that he served as a German spy during the hostage. This was indeed very painful and an act of injustice not least because Lev was very loyal to his country. He had refused to help the Germans, and even when an American soldier offered him an asylum in the USA he refused, as he wanted to serve his country. Arresting Lev and sentenced him for 10+ years was a sign of the injustice and cruel system that the Soviet Russia was establishing.

Figes gets us into personal love life of Lev during his jail term. His girlfriend, Sveta, was the loyalist woman I have ever read in history. She was dedicated to her love for him that she risked everything she had to keep it. She visited Lev, taking days train journey covering 4000+kms for a possibility of seeing him for a few minutes under the presence of a guard. She was very educated and her career was doing so well, yet she held on to a prisoner. No wonder, when she was in her 80s, Figes asked him what made her fall in love with Lev, she said ‘I knew he was my future from the start’. What an answer! Well, a bit of advice from me as informed by a reflection of this book- For those girls who are forcing relationships, please stop and find your future who will adore and respect you! (All girls go through this stupidity of trying to nurture a relationship just because you think the man is all that (in your uninformed blinded imagination, remember!) but you are not late, if you feel like you are in a crap relationship, I beg you to get brave and stop it, your future might be somebody very ordinary yet so special… read this book it might help.

The account of Lev’s life gathered through hundreds of letters they exchanged with his love Sveta while he was in the prison, Pechora, elaborated the cruelty of the Gulag industrial complex instituted by Stalin. It was a typical form of ‘exploitation of man by man’…what a hypocrite Stalin and his system were! Preaching love and act hate. The Gulag industrial complex built the Soviet Union with free labour and propaganda that blinded its people. For the first time, I found myself smiling upon the news of somebody death, when I came across ..Stalin died… and my smile was material! As it was evident from Lev’s letter that the situation in Pechora was getting better and policies were passed that uplifted the conditions of the prisoners.

With regards to the methodology, content, coherence, and structure of the book, I must say Orland Figes is a genius. He must be a very good historian. This book composes of a romantic story woven in a complex history of a country. The book has taught me a whole lot of the Soviet Russia history in its very critical moment. One of the best things in this book is that Figes puts the letters into the context, which provided key historical insight into Soviet Russia politics and economy.

For a wannabe writer like me…who, while not doing at its best in academia, is trying to move onto creative writing…books like Figes’ are a good compromise. They strike between academia and creative writing. This is because ‘Just Send Me Word’ is a novel yet very well researched with defined and systematic use of methodology. Probably, I should use my little academic experience and my desire for creative writing to come up with a book like that…(on TZ politics may be?)…LOL!

However, #TheDiaryOfAMadPartyGirl is too messy that its contents will have to be ‘fictionalized’ if it is ever to come out/public…#bombshell….you feel me?

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