... My mother is not present in the binder in her name, but in her labouring over the embroidery. To restore mothers' presence, nameless as it remained, I made a film which reveals her in her voice and hands, re-rolling the binder slowly. When I was little, my mother and her close friend, who often came to look after me, used to lull me with a song called “Миленький ты мой” (literally: “darling you're my” or plainly: “my darling”). It was a lullaby-like, sad and repetitive narrative of an unhappy love affair and separation.
The music for the lyrics, which most sources describe as anonymous or folk, may have been written in the 1910s-1920s by a popular Jewish composer of romances, Lev Drizo (Leo Drisse, d. 1935). In the last four decades it has been performed by many popular singers, notably the romance singer Zhannah Bichevskaya (1983), the Soviet folk diva Valentina Tolkunova (1986) and Russian rock veteran Boris Grebenshikov (Чубчик 1996). Very recently, numerous pop versions of the song have been released, ranging from shabby to delightfully ridiculous.
To my own surprise, I became familiar with those renderings only when making the video, whilst looking for the complete lyrics. Bichevskaya and Tolkunova performed the song on TV broadcasted concerts, which were most likely watched in our house and which I nevertheless do not remember. I remember the song vaguely from childhood and more so from family folklore, as mother and her friend were exchanging stories in which the song figured. In those stories the singer had to repeat the song at my demand over and over again, until she fell asleep, leaving me awake and wandering. The song as a lullaby was closely related to the ex-swaddling-pillowcases-cloths, which I embroidered, thus closing a circuit in my memories. Apart from this it was a simple, melodic and yet very evenly rhythmic tune, which made it appropriate for the task. And - there were lyrics, which set well in the overall narrative of immigration, belonging and female “fate”.