I was born in a small Russian village. Our home was a log house, covered with a straw roof. The front part of the house overlooked a large clear lake, and the back, open fields. The first time I became aware of my existence was on a cold winter night. My father and I were sitting on top of our red brick oven. The wind, whistling through the chimney and rattling the ice-covered windows, frightened me, and so I pressed close to my father and held his hand tightly. He was looking across the room where mother's bed stood curtained off with white sheets. Every now and then I heard a moan coming from the bed, and each time I felt father's hand tremble.