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The Gatekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 30

Esther Teichtal

“I wonder if he really is my father. Farmer Gudaitis said he was a silversmith. How many silversmiths could there have been in the Lithuanian underground?”

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

V

asara enters the hallway, her excitement fizzing out of her. Daina is perched mid-stairway, strumming on her guitar.

“You have to see this, Daina,” she cries, waving a crumpled paper in the air. Daina lays the guitar on her lap and squints at her.

Dropping her shoulder bag to the floor, Vasara gives the newspaper a bold, triumphant rustle.

“This is it. It’s got to be him! My father!”

Daina’s eyes widen. “No. Way.”

“I’m certain. All the details fit.” Vasara sits on the lowest stair and opens the paper wide. “Come, look.”

Daina skips down the stairs and leans over her shoulder.

Vasara begins reading in a high-pitched voice, her tongue almost tripping over the words:

“Notable artist and silversmith Leonid Dusheik was brought to trial in the Vilnius regional court yesterday, after Soviet officials inspected his exhibit in the Užupis district of the city. An investigation found that his so-called ‘Sparks of Spirit’ collection — a range of Jewish ritual candleholders and artistic lithographs of stormy weather is likely an underhanded attack on Soviet leadership and a statement of solidarity with the traitorous underground resistance.”

Daina sits down next to Vasara and places a hand on her ragged jeans.

“What does that mean?”

Vasara pulls herself away from the article. “It means he was suspected of rebelling against the Communists. Most Lithuanians hated their presence here. There was a lot of resistance back then.”

She picks up the paper again.

“When charged with using his personal hallmark on his creations, instead of the now-standardized Soviet insignia, Dusheik insolently proclaimed: ‘A silversmith’s hallmark represents his unique individuality. I will not apologize to the court!’ at which point he was ordered to remain silent. Judge Jočienė? was not swayed by arguments presented in Dusheik’s defense, and found him guilty of promulgating Western propaganda.”

Daina points at the text. “Does that mean he was an enemy of the state?”

Vasara clutches the side of the paper and shakes it with an angry snort. “It means the judge didn’t know an honest man when he saw one. Most citizens hated the Soviets but were too scared to say the truth. This Mr. Dusheik had the courage to speak out against a system that was rotten.”

With that, Vasara continues: “Dusheik was convicted on three counts of treason and is to be held for further interrogation regarding suspected connections to other political activists. Dusheik’s fans were shocked by the allegations leading to his arrest and a thin crowd of indignant protestors paraded defiant posters at the courthouse entrance. They were quickly dispelled by the authorities.”

Vasara falls silent, her gaze locked on the photo. “I wonder if he really is my father. Farmer Gudaitis said he was a silversmith. And that there was a trial. How many silversmiths could there have been in the Lithuanian underground?”

She turns to Daina. “I’m going to get that jug. I’ve seen the hallmark they wrote about.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 634)

 

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