Dedushka died of tropical sprue in Shanghai just after the war ended so mom and dad set about getting both Balia and Jenny into Hong Kong.
Balia was granted permission to come to HK in April 1947
Balia was obviously around when I was born, and Jenny arrived soon afterwards, so it was great to have the whole family around as I was growing up 😀
When we moved across to HK side, Balia stayed on in the flat at Cameron Road and gave piano lessons. At the time, there were a number of White Russian kids whose parents wanted them to learn the piano so she had quite a few as pupils, and then they included British, American and Chinese pupils as well.
We used to go for drives in the New Territories and Balia used to come along too, which was good fun! I must say we were a very close family and enjoyed each other’s company.
I just found it hard to communicate with Balia since her English was lousy and my Russian was non-existent. I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn about learning Russian so that I could have conversed with her and if I could turn back the clock, I think I would have done things differently 🙁
Every year she used to have concerts at the Peninsula and I remember hating having to play in front of all the parents and other pupils! Still, I had to play so I did!
I think it was around 1960 when developers decided they were going to tear down all those old apartment houses so Balia had to move to a “newer”, smaller, less attractive flat on the first floor of 3 Humphrey’s Avenue, just a street away.
I know mom was not very comfortable with Balia living alone and occasionally one of her more mature pupils, Doris, used to stay over to keep her company.
Doris also told me that Jenny used to come over more or less on a daily basis and Mrs Gabriel used to visit quite often and the three of them used to chat in Russian.
Since Balia’s English was very bad, poor Doris couldn’t really speak to her about much but she said Balia was a great cook and she used to have lovely Russian meals. Knowing Balia, she would have urged Doris to eat as much as she could! LOL! 😀
In 1966 Balia flew down to Perth to visit Jenny and Chucha after Michael’s death. She stayed for a couple of months and then, when she got back, mom got her flat all packed up and finally Balia came to stay with us in Broadwood Road.
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