Colorful world of a lonely grandma living in Georgia's abandoned village
06 December, 2016
Colorful world of a lonely grandma living in Georgia's  abandoned village
“I have been wearing black since I was 18 years old. First I lost my parents, then my husband died and then my son. Tskere is the remotest village in Khada gorge. It is built on the top of a mountain and I have been living here since I got married. I was 21 back then. Now my children and grandchildren live in bigger cities or other villages that are closer to Pasanauri. I am all alone here all year long. In summer, seven-eight houses are full of people but as soon as it becomes colder, everybody moves to the lower lands and only three people are left: me and the old couple living in another house near here.

In winter almost nobody comes here. When everything becomes covered in snow, only the tractors can climb these steep roads and even they cannot go further than lower bridge. After that, one has to walk. I remember the old times, when people made cattle pave the way and then used sledges. Now everything is empty here. Years ago, there were several 4-grade schools in Tskeri and the children could go there until they turned 9-10 years old. A boarding-school was in Kvesheti and children were then moving there to continue studying. Now we have no schools. Only in Kvesheti there is a public school and people cannot leave their children uneducated, can they? So, that is exactly why they move from here every August. Some of them rent houses, others live in small cabins. That is how desperately they want their children to receive knowledge. That is why some villages like Tskere become emptied.

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Photo courtesy of Salome Tsopurashvili

During autumn, when the cars still manage to drive on these roads, I try to gather everything I need for winter. I am very old already. My legs hurt and I cannot even look after my cattle. So I gather everything before cold weathers begin. My pension is 216 Laris and additional 50 Laris as social assistance. You can only take your money in lower villages, so people living there help me. They keep my money until somebody decides to come up.

I remember, three years ago, I was all alone here the whole winter. During three months there was not a soul here. So I amused myself by knitting carpets
and socks. In the evening, I played panduri. I had no TV then so I talked to myself. That brought the feeling of being alive. I thought then that a little kitten would be fine. I would talk to it and tell it the stories.

I like working with wool: I wash it first and then make thread. Then I paint the threads too. I like different colors, they amuse me, make me happier. I knit the socks during winter and then, when summer comes, I sell them to tourists. Many people come to Tskere. Some of them do not speak Georgian or Russian and it is difficult to make them understand anything. But they take photos of me and it is really amusing. They like what I am doing and buy everything with pleasure. One tourist once bought many pairs of socks and gave me 300 Laris. The foreigners like my wool socks better.
As a permanent resident here, I don’t pay for natural gas in winter. I am only eligible to pay from May till October. But I have no running water here, so I have to walk across the road every time I need to wash my things.

Maybe you’ll be surprised but I have only one thing to ask to God. Whenever he decides it is time for me to go, let him not do it in winter. People will have to walk up these roads and I don’t want to bother them that much."

Author: Maiko Chitaia

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