May 29, 2023

Photo: Ekaterina Esther/

Valentina Iosifovna Kotkina was born under the siege of Leningrad in May 1942. Dad went missing at the front, and mom became disabled during hard work during the war years and did not have time to nurse her grandchildren, leaving life too early.

Therefore, for Valentina Iosifovna, six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren are the main wealth and pride in life. True, for the most part they grow up in other cities, next to them are second grader Margarita and kindergartener Ilyusha.

Photo: Ekaterina Esther/

To convey to today’s children the memory of the significance of a great day in world history – Valentina Iosifovna also feels personal responsibility for the fulfillment of this task. Therefore, he never refuses when they are invited to schools. True, over the years it is more and more difficult to go out: not only age, but also blockade childhood and hard work in a rural bakery affect health.

“My work was hard, for twenty-four years I baked in the Nessk fish farm, and chopped firewood, and dragged sacks, and carried coal,” recalls the veteran. Now the stove has stopped. And before, in the village, they did not live without pies: bread in the morning, shangi for dinner, pastries in the evening. There was always a pot with dough in the house.

Valentina Kotkina arrived in the Nenets District when she was barely twenty. After the death of her mother, the girl did not hold anything in her hometown, and she accepted the offer of her future husband, Yuri, to leave for the Far North.

“The older sisters already lived with their families, my mother died,” recalls Valentina Iosifovna. – And we went to Nes, where we lived all our lives. We had a good time, we had a good time. There was no greed in people, no envy.

The interlocutor and her husband moved to Naryan-Mar only in 2010, although the children had suggested that they move before.

“Once they called me to the village council, they said: I was given an apartment in the city, as a blockade,” recalls Valentina Kotkina. – I was surprised, I tell my husband, and he says: “Go, they gave you an apartment, not me!” He joked like that, he liked to joke. What an accordionist! On all holidays, whether weddings, birthdays, he was called to play the harmonica. It’s been seven years since he’s been gone, we’ve lived for 54 years.

The family family nest in the village is not empty. The eldest of four daughters is coming for the summer. And of course: from Novgorod – through Naryan-Mar, to stay with my mother, and help with the housework. At the time of our meeting, Valentina Iosifovna was visiting the youngest daughter, she came from Arkhangelsk. Daughter Natalya lives in Naryan-Mar, who was named after her childhood friend Valentina.

Photo: Ekaterina Esther/

“We still do not lose touch with that Leningrad girlfriend,” the blockade woman says, “She is a little younger, she was born in 1945. We are still in touch with her. We used to write letters, now we talk on the phone, we tell everything to each other.

And when Valentina Iosifovna stays alone in the apartment, she likes to sit by the window, admiring the city landscapes.

“I don’t go outside every day, so I look out the window,” the woman says. – I like to watch people, I see, for example, an elderly couple, I am always happy for them. I would like to wish everyone to take care of each other, otherwise people today do not know how to do this. They quarrel, run away, do not know how to forgive, love, they all only think about themselves. After all, our happiness lies in taking care of others, and not living for ourselves. If you give your heart to another, then life is a joy!

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