Eteri Gvaramadze, 86, Rustavi Retirement Home

„I am originally from Guria, but I lived in Tbilisi. My husband and I ended up in Rustavi because of the family situation. Rustavi was a completely new and strange city; I did not know anyone here. To be part of a city, you have to either grow up, study or work there, but I had left all this behind in Tbilisi. Regardless, you have no idea how much I like Rustavi and how much I’ve got used to it.
The apartment my family used to live in was left to my sister. I had two brothers too, but one of them passed away. My father was a professor and, as a man with a large family, was given a land plot near the Tbilisi Sea where he built a house. My brother moved to that house and my sister remained in Griboedov Street. My sister is 90 now, she has sons and grandsons so I, another granny, cannot go there and become a burden for them. No! I’m not like that, I have never troubled anyone! To go and live with them after Vakhtang’s death, is not something I could do!

We had a one-bedroom apartment here, but my husband has been dead for 11 years, we did not have children, so I am all alone. All my relatives are in Tbilisi, but I cannot ask them to take care of an old woman like me, I’m like that…

I always loved art and did not want to study economy, I dreamed of being a journalist. My dad was appointed head of a department at the Tbilisi State Polytechnic University, where he also taught, that’s why I was forced to enroll there, even though I hated Math. I loved literature, journalism, but did not hope to pass the exams because of an extremely severe competition. And I chose Polytechnic University out of respect for my father. In my second year as a student, I left and enrolled instead in Tbilisi State University in 1954. I graduated in 1959. After graduation I started working in the Film Studio. I worked at the films such as Melodies of Vera District, A Necklace for My Beloved, On the Shore, which was made in Batumi, and Pore Mosulishvili (shot in Kakheti). I financed those films. Melodies of Vera District cost a million and a half rubles which was an enormous amount back then. As soon as the filming was over, I went to work in the Institute of Physical Culture.

Many of those actors are already gone, and have taken pieces of my heart with them. I loved all of them. It was sheer happiness to meet Zhorzholiani, Khvichia…

Then I got married. My husband was my neighbor. I lived in Griboedov Street, and my Vakhtang, nearby, in Zubalashvilebi Street. Vakhtang studied in Russia and his sister, that is my sister-in-law, lived in the same apartment as him. I told him: “Vakhtang, I cannot go and live with you, Iza is living there and she cannot start looking for a new place to live, the children have grown in that apartment and I don’t want to claim any space there. This is the only sister you have and I don’t want to meddle.” So we rented an apartment for a while, then we lived in Kazreti and finally moved to Rustavi. It is close to Tbilisi and we spent most of our time with our relatives.

I did not marry because I loved my husband, but we knew each other, our families, our parents well. But there was no love. Vakhtang threatened if I did not marry him and marry someone else, he would go to Siberia and get lost. I liked and respected him very much. After living together for 30 years, I wrote a poem for him. The poem was about the fear of one of us dying and leaving the other behind to grapple with loneliness, and hoping we would die together.
But he passed away earlier than me. I outlived him.

Iza and I are going to move to Gldani to live, even if Tbilisi is only Vake, Vera and Rustaveli for me… Iza often comes to see me together with her grandchildren. I cannot go and visit them as often, it is getting difficult for me. I go to the window and tears start rolling down. This is all I have. This is the end of me.”