Luda Shioshvili, 73, Rustavi Retirement Home

„Life is a staircase… Sometimes you go up and sometimes you go down. I dedicated all my life to public good. Learning and working was a priority. We were very small, my two sisters and I, when our mother passed away. Father was a teacher and his meager salary was not enough. We were rather poor. That is why, I set myself a goal to work very hard and secure my family’s well-being.

I was 17 when I finished school and started work as a courier in Tbilisi Central Bank. At that time, the Soviet authority adopted a law that made it impossible for those who did not have a higher education diploma to occupy high positions. This law would cause employers to lose many apt people, so they found a solution: for those who worked, they opened evening classes that either required or did not require attendance. I enrolled in the Economy evening course with attendance requirement. My daily routine included going to work at 9 a.m. and from there to the university at 7 p. m. This routine lasted for five years.

I was in my third year when the University gave me a reference letter. Thank to this letter, from the position of a courier I was promoted to an economist in a bank. My banking career took off from that day – I became the deputy head of a Division in the bank, then the head and finally, the Manager of the Chughureti branch of Central Bank. I have never thought of getting married. Some people thought I was making a terrible mistake, warning me I would grow old alone without anyone to look after me. I never had a problem with being an old spinster, and don’t have a problem with it now, even though I have nobody but my niece and nothing but the walls of this retirement home…

I think life is a staircase because… While I served as a bank manager, some crooks kidnapped me. I usually walked from home to work, and one evening they hit me on my head, pushed me into the car, bound my eyes and kept me in a strange place for three days. They demanded 5 million. They fed me once a day. You know, I was not afraid at all. I actually mocked them and told them it would cost them dearly. In the meantime, as I found out later, I was searched throughout the country. The whole security service was alerted. After three days, they let me go on the condition that they would come to the bank in two days and I would give them a 2 million credit. They were captured that same evening. In court they even said “If we had known Ms. Luda was such an important person, we wouldn’t have dared do it.” My life was full of adventures and I always remember my past fondly.

What breaks my heart is that I lost one sister first and then the other. My elder sister and I ended up in this retirement home because we lost our apartment. During the turmoil in the country, we mortgaged and lost it. My sister was 4 years older than me and after the death of our mother, she practically raised me. She spoke English and when foreigners visited us, she would interpret for them. In the end, she was bedridden and I took care of her. She died in the retirement home…

See? As I said, life is a staircase; sometimes you are at the top of your game, and sometimes at the bottom.”