v. 1953-1955.4

Coming Home from the Exile

Fumiko began to live in the house of Anna Fyodorovna.  She was a learned German Russian, who had been in exile with the experience of studying in a medical school. Monthly wage at the nursery school was 310 rubles per month. She took care of children from the age of three-months old to seventeen years old. She sang as many songs as she knew, including Russian children’s songs, English songs, and the Japanese song about a dove. She drew pictures of flowers and animals and put them on the wall. The work was supposed to be for eight hours, but she worked for ten hours a day. Regardless, this was a good time for her. She enjoyed the quiet time at home after the day’s work and receiving Anna’s correction of the Russian pronunciation. She was a fine person who was trustworthy. On some Sundays, they went to pick wild berries and bathed in the river together.

On March 5, 1953, Stalin died. On the same day of his funeral in Moscow, there was a memorial service in Bay village as well. Throughout the year after that, Fumiko kept waiting for the notice that she could leave the village, but nothing came. It was comforting that another Japanese called, Ms. Baba came to the village in the middle of that time.The ship, Koanmaru, for the repatriates from the Soviet Union arrived at Maizuru, Japan in December, 1953, but she did not know about it until March 1954 as she was reading the newspaper article in Pravda. When she saw that, she felt her time of going home was coming near and she began to clean up her belongings. Then she sent her plea numerous times to the Soviet Red Cross in Moscow.  Suddenly, certificates were sent out to all of the ex-convicts sentenced to five-years of exile stating that their previous criminal records and sentence of exiles are all retracted.  However, Fumiko did not receive a Japanese Passport, and she just received the certificate of resident without nationality. At a local government office, she was asked to show them a letter from her family in Japan asking her to come back. She then had to write a letter to her uncle in Nagano prefecture where her original register was and waited for his reply for a long time. Finally, on February 7th in 1955, two years after the death of Stalin, the long-waited order to go home was issued.  Ms. Anna parted affectionately, and in the joy of going home to Japan with Ms. Baba together, she said farewell to everyone and got on to the horse-drawn sleigh. 

Now, Fumiko was back, completely free, in Krasnoyarsk where she was brought to as a person in exile five years ago. There was no one following her and she was able to go to a hair dresser.  During her ten years of detainment in Siberia, she never had the chance to even use moisturizer on her face.  She got on to the ship, Koanmaru, in April, 1955. When she was finally back home in Japan after a long journey, she was forty-six years old.