Eteri Borchashvili, 86, Jokolo, Pankisi Gorge

„All my life I’ve seen nothing but suffering… I was six when my mother died. I remember myself running in our land plot, yelling “mom’s dead”. At 7, I went to school. I didn’t have any clothes to wear. They cut up my mothers clothes, redid them and put them on me. I didn’t want to wear my mother’s clothes and I cried my eyes out. I couldn’t even dream about having a coat or a jacket. Still, I was gifted, I was very talented and studied well. I received excellent marks. On the 1st of May, the celebration day, they would put me on the wall as an honorary pupil. It was a difficult life for a schoolgirl, we did not have electricity and I had to study under the light of the fireplace. I wouldn’t go to school if I was not properly prepared for the lesson. I was gifted but I did not have proper care to finish school. My father took me away when I was in my fifth year at school. I was taken to Khevsureti were we stayed for 9 years. My father and brothers were shepherds there and they took me with them to take care of me. You see, I was still a child. My duty was just to look after the house, as I could not cook. Then one of my brothers was lost in the war, during the war his wife and one-year-old daughter passed away too. They left behind a two-year-old boy. I was ten when I started taking care of my two-year-old nephew. I raised him until I was nineteen and when I got married he joined the army.

I got married at the age of 19. I loved another boy but my relatives chose my husband because he was the only child in the family, and they promised me to help too. So they got me married. I had seven children, two of them died… Now they are away, leading their own lives. There is nobody for me, only god. I loved my children so much that I would lay them at my feet and head to sleep. My mother-in-law helped me very much. I was very lucky with her. She was a vicious women, men were afraid of her, but I am very patient, and I never let her words and temper affect me. I was used to hard life, there was nothing I could not endure.

My love was so great, when my kids went to school, I would sit them down in the evening, I would not let them eat or sleep. I swear they remember even now. “I can’t forget how you smacked us upside the head”, they will tell me. I did not let them alone, until they’d shown me what they’d prepared for the school. I wanted my children and grandchildren to get education. I have a grandchild now, a fourth year student. I love this grandchild so much for being talented and hardworking. Another grandchild of mine sent a photo with a diploma in one hand and a medal in the other. He’d won the first place in football. I was so happy, so happy. The grandchild – the one which is a student – sometimes asks me “Granny why are you so happy to see me?” How can I not be happy? My grandchild is a student! I wanted to learn, I wanted to learn so much.. But, sadly, I had neither time nor a mentor…

I have not seen a single shred of happiness in my life. Although, I have to say, my husband was good, he had mild personality, and generally, he was a good man… He used to tell me “I’m not asking you to do anything, just do not answer back to my parents, please”. He was a good man, and I’m grateful to him. And this is what matters.”