My Math Teacher versus My Mother-in-law

I grew up relatively poor, but I wasn’t aware of it and didn’t care. In 7th grade, I went to a new school for children gifted in math. Looking back, I realize that most of my classmates there were privileged. My first clue about my own financial disadvantages arrived when my math teacher, Inna Victorovna, offered me several of her old dresses. I do not remember what she said to me exactly, but I remember she was tactful, so much so that I felt comfortable taking the dresses.

In an instant, I was better dressed than I had ever been. I especially loved the brown dress which I wore for my first visit to Gelfand’s seminar.

A few years passed; I went to college and married Andrey. Things got somewhat better financially, but I was still struggling. My mother-in-law, Veronika, was well-off and loved clothes. She had a habit of ordering a new dress from her tailor, every season, four times a year. In Soviet Russia, this was a lot of dresses.

One day, Veronika decided to give me some of her old dresses. Unlike my math teacher, she said something that I will never forget. She told me that she was getting rid of those dresses because they were out of fashion and made her look old. I was in my twenties at the time and didn’t want to look old either. However, I didn’t have much choice in clothes, so I wore the dresses. I hated them.



  1. Andrey Radul:

    It is possible to tell the stories of Kishinev this way, but it leaves so many aspects in shadows, that the whole comparison looks artificial and taken from a book for kids.

    My mother had a complicated character, and partially it was due to the fact, that she did not try to realize her dreams in her life. She was deeply unhappy with the life in Kishinev, and this unhappiness was spilled out by different reasons. I think the most vulnerable were her students, other people around were receiving “underserved” punishment too. I do not say her behavior was good form generic perspective, I am trying to understand what was happening with her, at least to see the picture from more perspectives. If that makes sense, I may apologize from her behalf – she did not behave correctly in the episode.

    After all we are hardly kids now and may afford being merciful and forgiving.

  2. tanyakh:

    Andrey, I forgave her a long time ago.

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