Please tell me the truth, is there an Easter Bunny? I really must know how to understand this.
I am a 58 year old ethnic Latvian pensioner. I had little choice but to go into early retirement some years ago due to redundancy in my place of work. My indexed pension after nearly 20 years of hard back-breaking work (literally) is barely EUR 230 which is well below the state minimum wage of about EUR 360 month. If I wasn’t surrounded by a loving family I think I would have died of cold, hunger and depression several years ago.
When I die, my hard earned pension capital goes back to the state. Even if I only live for another five years (sad reality for me), I cannot get more than the calculated monthly amount (ha ha – the state thinks I could live for another 25 year term on EUR 230 per month).
So, I am beginning to wonder if I am just some kind of a ‘bunny’? I have heard the expression that a ‘bunny’ is like a sacrificial lamb – somehow not really important as there is no shortage.
My grand-daughter, Sofija, who is learning English at school and often reads The Baltic Times as part of her international and current affairs studies, suggested that I might like to write to you: “If you see it in the Baltic Times, it must be so” she said. I was quite amused by her sense of loyalty to your newspaper. She has become disillusioned with our local media and tells me that most of it is off-sourced (?) and re-hashed from what she called ‘wire reports’. I don’t really understand.
You must come across a lot of alarming news of major international importance. The type of news that upsets me more is mostly to do with social issues ‘at home’ ... you know, like the scandalous attitude of Latvian Railways in closing off its passenger lounge at Central Station – because, allegedly, it has become a daytime warm location for our homeless men ... I don’t (yet) really know where our
homeless women spend their days, especially in the harsh winter.
Well, dear Mister Editor, I’m still lucky. I have a little space to myself in the ‘kitchen’. While the rest of the family is out and about I can always take a nap on my mattress by the radiator, and my chief duty now is to make the meals and try to keep the house clean. I am helped by our little Minka the cat and we have no mice or rats in out apartment. We all survive mostly on use-by and cut-price groceries.
I checked some facts about myself on www.latvija.lv some days ago and it was frightening to know how much the government really knows about me (even I had forgotten about the arthroscopy so many years ago when I was much fatter ... but all the details were there for any ‘authorised’ person to see. It was like looking at a spreadsheet sitting on some mainframe computer. Just some numbers really. Even the old State Security Committee file on me can’t be as comprehensive as this new data base.
I really feel that have been reduced to some information access codes that tell me that am not really living, but that I am just existing. I am not being creative anymore nor am I expected to be. In fact my natural creativity as a closet late night Bansuri player is even discouraged by my neighbours! I feel that I am now well set on the final path to what is called ‘Administrative Separation’ ... I am being kept alive (as long as I don’t get sick) to service the state machinery and after my last gasp, the state will benefit from the return of about 52,000 EUR of MY pension capital to its coffers. Is that fair? I would rather invest that money in my grand-daughter so that at least she can get a start in life, pay for her education without having to sacrifice her youth and always have enough money with which to buy a one-way plane ticket to New York.
Please tell me the truth, is there an Easter Bunny somewhere ‘out there’? I really must know how to understand this. I am hoping that you have some good advice for all of us ‘ordinary’ people.
Elvira Zasenhof, Riga