My grandmother’s Russian box—a story in miniature

October 7 | 2020

My Russian box, like a Russian doll, is hollow. As a teenager fleeing the pogroms in Lithuania, my grandmother Malca carried this enamel box with her on the passage to North America. It belonged, my mother told me, to Malca’s own mother. As I tell in my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, Malca was my father’s mother, and she eventually acquired many beautiful objects. I’ve no doubt her mother’s box remained one of the most precious. To my discredit, I misplaced this family heirloom for more than a decade, then recovered it from a forgotten carton in my own basement. I can never regard it as an empty box. This box, for me, is brimming with stories.