Shelter and Hostility
Nadia's uncle on her father's side lived close enough to them to see, from his own window, that his brother's family had been literally tossed out into the icy cold. He struggled for quite a while. Could he let his brother's children freeze to death in the cold? But what about his own family? What would become of them if he helped the family of a political prisoner?
"I'll tell you what will happen!" shouted his wife. "You'll get sent to a Gulag! And what will become of your own children? What will become of me?" she cried. His children were listening in quite intently. He reached for his coat, and his wife tried to pull it away from him. "I will not allow my brother's children to freeze to death, woman." He walked out into the snow and ice and brought Nadia, Maria, Boris, and their mother, Oksana, into his home.
On December 31, 1924 a little baby girl named Nadia Chaplya was born in the Ukraine. Nadia would be the middle of three children; her older sister was Maria and her younger brother was Boris. Her parents were Anton and Oksana. The Chaplyas had a small farm with a grove of cherry trees that their children had helped them to plant. Anton, however, struggled with alcoholism and made things difficult for the family.
This was a difficult time for the Ukrainian people as the Communist influence was increasing. In their small village, corruption and abuse of power was rampant. The town constable, Ivan Dushko, wanted the Chaplyas' land so badly he was willing to use his power to take it. To that end, he falsely accused Anton of political crimes, making him a wanted man.
Sara McCaslin is an engineer, a computer scientist, and a freelance writer.