A childhood. A house.

In my dreams my childhood house always looks different, but the feeling in the dream is that perfect sensation: I was just there, back in time and everything stood still. Sometimes the dream comes often, then it is gone for months.

In my memory, the happiest childhood ever.

In that small village at the edge of that small country. In that small house with just one liveable room. With a grandpa, a grandma, a grand-grandma, those dogs who only eat bread and leftovers, the cat who attacks the neighbours’ dog to protect her breed, the cow with her big human eyes who knows exactly which gate she has to open when she comes home from the fields.

It’s now empty.

The last dog died last winter. He’s lived there alone for several years, the neighbours brought him bread and water, when they remembered or heard him bark. I can’t recall his name anymore, but it’s probably Muhtar. There were several of them throughout the years.

We sold the cow when grandpa suddenly died. I can see her walk out through the small front gate touching it with her hips, this big and very gentle being, white with black spots and humble intelligent eyes.

And the cat. Smart and proud creature. Well, it lived a long life. We say she was around for at least 22 years. Murka was just another typical name. You’ll find them in every little village. The name, not the cat. The little mop of hair made its appearance around the same time as one of the dogs. They’d play together, eat together, until one day when the dog decided otherwise. He’d never catch her, there she was up the tree. The cat lived long enough to meet the grand-grandma in her last years of life and decades later to meet her grand-grand-granddaughter who she never knew.

The neighbours next door are still the same, just fewer. It seems life goes on the same way as ever before. Though in the meanwhile an entire Soviet empire has collapsed and a little country together with this village gained a fragile independence, filled with hopes and dreams of happiness.

I now have my own house.

A middle aged IT couple owned it for almost 30 years before us. It was just for the two of them, and their two cats, and of course their computers. All of them happily moved away last year. We kept the doorbell, the house number, the laundry ropes, and you can still see there used to be a hole in the back door, the cats’ entrance into the house. We got it fixed, but didn’t get to painting it yet. All the rest is vanished. There are new floors, a new bathroom, everything is freshly painted. Their wild, jungle-looking garden is also gone, together with the ponds, the salamanders, the decades old pine trees, even the frogs from under the ground had to relocate. Both the neighbours had to comply with our desire to have a wooden fence instead of green boundaries. The former owners stop by sometimes to visit the old neighbour next door for a game of bridge. Must be a sore sight for their eyes this new house we built.

I still fear that one day the little house in the village will be gone too. The walnut trees, the water well, the toilet in the garden. And so will all the last things of my childhood.