Prague | 2021


City  Prague
Age  86
Love life — Widow, 2 children, 3 granddaughters, 1 great-grandson
Profession — Worked in a laboratory (retired at 80)
Years in Prague19, during her childhood
Location — Charles Bridge

T H E   P R A G U E   S T O R I E S






  • What makes you happy? “My entire family.” (With tears in her eyes:) “They give me back the love I gave them before.”
  • What is your best personality trait? “I’m honest with everyone. Especially at the lab where I used to work. There I told my colleagues without any hesitation that their work wasn’t good enough. At that time, it was quite uncommon to be so straightforward. But I had to be brave and speak up, since I needed to be really, really precise. After a biopsy, I had to find out if someone had a disease. I might harm other people if I wouldn’t get the diagnosis right. That’s also why my greatest insecurities were related to my work. I had to be 100% sure.”
  • What makes you different than other people? “I’m more active than most people my age. For example, I volunteer. I help young foreigners from Spain, England or Poland who moved to the Czech Republic to work for an NGO. I take them on trips, teach them how to cook, or help them with knitting or other crafts. Now during Covid I can’t do as much, but the University for Seniors where I studied for the past 9 semesters, will start online classes soon.”
  • What is your biggest struggle? “When I heard the diagnosis of my husband’s illness. I was 50 years old and fought for five years, helping him while trying not to panic and stay sane. These were the most horrifying and frightening years of my life. We were married for 33 years. He was tall and funny and we never argued. Only when my granddaughter was born, I felt able to live again. Her name is Lucie. Her name means light in Latin and she did indeed give me back the light in my life. I deeply regret that my husband couldn’t meet my granddaughters.”
  • What was your greatest life lesson? “Don’t intervene with other people’s lives. Everyone has to live their own life. Live and let live. I’m not here to push my opinions on anyone.”

  • What is your greatest disappointment? “What happened in 1968, when Eastern European troops led by Russia came to Czechoslovakia. Before that, life here was quite nice. Maybe it wasn’t completely liberal because the communist party was in charge, but we tried to change it during the Prague Spring that year, so things were getting a little bit better and more democratic. But then the Russian army showed up in August 1968 and they stayed here for 30 years. Life became really hard. Every bit of progress society had made during the previous years was torn down. Everything became worse and that was the worst feeling for me, my country and everyone around me. Life didn’t change for the better until 1989, when the Velvet Revolution ended the communist regime and the Russians left. ”
  • What is your biggest fear? “I’m afraid of wars. I can say from personal experience that it’s the worst thing that can happen to a person and to humankind. The memories of all those air strikes and air bombs come back to me a lot when I talk about the war. Sitting in the dark in a cellar and feeling the fear of the people around you is a horrible experience, especially when you’re a child. I strongly hope that one day there won’t be any more wars.”
  • What is your biggest dream? “That the Corona virus will finally be gone, so we can travel and breathe freely again. I would like to go to the seaside one more time.”
  • What is the best advice anyone ever gave you? “During World War II my father told me to never forget that I’m Czech, because people were betraying their nation during the war. So even as a young girl, I played my part during the liberation of Prague. I was quite young, so I helped by bringing snacks and hot tea to people like my parents, who were building barricades during the night. I still remember one of the biggest air bombings on Prague. They destroyed the street next to ours. There was so much smoke and fire and I was so scared. I have never forgotten my father’s advice. Some people feel ashamed to be Czech, but I’m not, I’m proud of it. Many people find it hard that we’re not on the same level as other countries when it comes to politics, finance, economic, social status – basically everything. They consider themselves not up to standard, but even if I would agree, I still think the Czech Republic is a great country and no one should be ashamed of how they live. You live up to your standards the best you can. So I would advise other women: wherever you live, don’t be ashamed of your nationality or your country”
  • What is your greatest sadness? “Even though it’s the cycle of life, it saddens me when people around me pass away. My parents, my siblings, my husband. I’m happy to be around younger people and my descendants, but the sadness remains that people around me are gone and will never return.”
  • What does Prague mean to you? “It’s the place where I spent my entire childhood. Back then it was calmer, less crowded, and safer. My parents let me go on walks with my friends by myself. But everything changed, the world changed. I still enjoy walking around Prague, visiting theatres and exhibitions and most of all, visiting my granddaughters. The old part of Prague is almost the same as it was in my childhood memories, it’s still beautiful. I like its old history.”

Photos by Nataliya Yashchuk


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