Hakuna Matata

Talk about somebody who has affected you.

Russia had never been bad to me. My eleven years there made for a joyful, carefree childhood. I never thought of my life as wanting despite living on my grandma’s miserly pension for three years. During those last three years of my life in Russia, when my mom was in the U.S. and I lived with my grandma, I never once thought of myself as unlucky or lonely or poor. My grandma had crafted a splendid world for me, almost of fairy tale-like qualities: I was sure that love abounded in the world, that everyone was as happy as I was, and I was shielded from knowing that most of the world was immersed in warfare, that most marriages do not end happily, that I barely survived during my first year of life because my mom and grandma had to live on food stamps because of the currency default of 1991.

My grandma was careful not to expose me to these realities before my mindset was ripe enough to understand them. Hence I lived the life of Hakuna Matata—subject to no worries, my only duty being going to school, having everything else provided for me. I took that for granted, as any kid does, and haven’t come to appreciate what my grandma had done for me only until these past few years of my life. Slowly but steadily, my world view has been...

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