A Jew from Russia with an Ukrainian last name met a Lithuanian girl who worked as a translator. The Jew had spent a few years in St Petersburg’s Theatrical Academy preparing himself for actor’s career. The girl was fluent in six languages (Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Latvian, and Belarussian). Their names were Grigorijus (Grigori) and Ringailė (no equivalent in other languages). They fell for each other and from their union came two children – me and my brother.
My father left our family when he found out that my mother was pregnant with me. She alone raised me and my brother. My father went to live in a countryside. He gathered mushrooms and berries and sold it to purchasers and shoppers. During the cold season he sometimes came back to us. My mother would take him in because she was a forgiving and compassionate person.
My mother’s parents were living with us but they did not show much interest or affection for their grandsons. I was a spitting image of my Jewish grandmother. The grandmother with whom I lived was a sworn Nazi. She had two photos by her bedside – one was of Pope John Paul Second. The other one – of Adolph Hitler. My grandmother resented my and did not try to hide it.
My early years were full of chaos and hardship but I felt happy. We celebrated Christmas in orthodox temples, catholic churches, or we would instead celebrate Hanukkah with my Jewish grandmother.
We were a rather poor family. My mother had to work twelve-hour shifts. I spent my childhood running around neighbourhood and playing with other children. Our neighbourhood was a multicultural space – there were families from Poland, Russia, Romany families and a few Lithuanian families. The Poles taught me to fight, the Russians taught me to swear and play cards, and Romanies taught me to steal from market stalls and shops.
I would like to believe that all of these factors gave me not only traumas and twisted moral sense but also flexibility and diplomatic abilities. I tried to adjust to all of the national groups in the playground and I managed to shape my behaviour in a way which would bring the least amount of anger and resentment.
After graduating from my primary school I was accepted into Vilnius Jesuit Gymnasium. To this day I feel grateful for the environment there and wonderful people who did not lose their hope on me despite me being the worst possible student.
When I was sixteen both of my grandparents died in two consecutive days. I took care of my grandfather while he was in his deathbed. My grandmother died suddenly from a complication of stomach ulcer. After a week my father, who was staying with us at the time, got into an argument with my mother and left slamming the door behind himself. He came back to the countryside and found his lover in bed with another man. My father ended that man’s life and ended up in prison. These were very hard experiences for me to cope with.
Thus began very difficult times. I started mingling with people from various subcultures – punks, goths, metalheads, ravers and hip hoppers. I would rarely come back home. I indulged myself in alcohol, narcotics and violent behaviour. I had type 1 diabetes since I was three years old and during this period of my life I had thirteen diabetic comas. This was mostly due to the various substances I used and endocrinal system which starts dancing tango in adolescent years. Three time safter waking up from a coma, doctors told me that was not supposed to survive.
I only snapped out of this way of living when two of my friends committed suicide, one was put in a psychiatric hospital and one girl had an abortion. I began talking to people around me. I was looking for counselling and advice. With the guidance of Jesuit gymnasium’s chaplain and headmaster, who was a Jesuit monk I managed to put myself back on tracks.
At the time I was eighteen years old. I discovered the joy of volunteering. The last high school years were spent volunteering in children camps, going to day care centres, taking care after mentally challenged people, visiting prisoners, taking a part in cultural festivals, and communicating with children from dysfunctional families.
Along with volunteering I took up philosophy class and began my journey through all kinds of literature. I began attending Lithuania’s Writers Union events. I participated twice in the union’s academy for young writers. I started going to theatrical groups, wrote poems, essays, letters and plays.
After graduating from gymnasium in 2012, I started studying philosophy in Vilnius University. After a couple of months, I left university. I became overwhelmed with passion for something else, a craving for more than what academic society could offer, an unquenchable thirst. Accidentally I travelled to a monastery in countryside and spent a few days there. They were catholic monks – Fraternity of Tiberiade (Fraternité de Tibériade) There was a misunderstanding which resulted in me promising to stay six months with the monks. Those six months expanded into almost a year. I spent this time in Lithuania, Belgium and Italy.
I lived as a monk without taking any vows. I prayed and worked with the brothers. I took care after sheep, pigeons, a pig, a donkey and bees. I helped to construct a new henhouse, dabbled in carpentry, husbandry and gardening. During this period of my life I had no means of communication except for letters which I wrote incessantly. I came back from the monastery in summer 2013. I started studying translation (English and Italian) in Vilnius university. Things were going nicely for a while.
It was December, 2014 when my mother fell sick. She had a heart attack and became bedridden. I decided to pay less attention to my studies and become a provider for my family. My brother was getting his bachelor degree and I thought that he should concentrate only on that. After a few weeks I was working in four part-time jobs – translator, mailman, junior copywriter in an advertisement agency, and text-reader in a radio.
My mother was getting well. For about a month I was sleeping 2-4 hours a night. After such performance eventually I was put into a psychiatric hospital. My diagnosis was F 23.10 – Acute polymorphic psychotic disorder with symptoms of schizophrenia. Psychiatrists explained that I had burned my psyche. I spent two weeks there and then I ran away because I strongly disapproved of the medical treatment. The medication I received made me feel like a torpefied vegetable. I had many dreams when I was a wee little boy, but none of them was to have emotional scale of a tomato.
Time passed, I got back up on my feet and took academic vacation. I started working as a waiter because I wanted a predictable down-to- earth job. I was still writing and participating in poetry slam events. After one of those events I was delegated as Lithuania’s champion to International Poetry Slam championship which took place in Tartu, Estonia November, 2015. I reached the finals and took the 6th place.
In December 2015 I decided to create homemade fireworks. The hotplate I used was older than me and the thermostat wasn’t working properly. I burned down my flat, no humans were injured save for myself. I climbed down the balconies from the fourth floor and sought medical treatment. Then I spent a month in a hospital, everyday thanking for the experience of my own mortality. When I got back on my feet I returned to my former job and once again started waiting tables.
I left the university once again because I felt it necessary to spend as much time as it is possible working and using the money to rebuild my home. I am working to this day and still having a dream of getting some sort of education. Since teenage years I’ve never let go of the pen and even without any spare moment I manage to find a few seconds to scribble few verses. During slam poetry event in March, 2016 I won against Žygimantas Mesijus Kudirka who was the winner of European Poetry Slam Championship 2014.