Grandmother of Alexander Rybak told about her grandson

 Grandmother of Alexander Rybak, in Vitebsk, told about her grandson to the reporter of “Vitbichy”

Published: 6.3.2014.
Source: Text and photos: Natalya Drozdova
Translated from Russian by Mónika Menyhért

I went to visit the grandmother of Sasha Rybak, a charming Norwegian guy with Belarusian roots, who wasn’t famous when waking up that day, but  he was when falling asleep on the night of his triumphant victory with the piercing song Fairytale at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 in Moscow. Maya Borisovna watched her grandson’s performance on television exactly in this apartment on Chernyakhovsky Avenue in Vitebsk, along with her sister Natasha, and … she is thinking back now:

– I remember that the TV-host Andrey Malakhov called us on air, recalls Maya Borisovna , happily shouted into the phone, congratulated me, so what happened? Our Sasha went, sang, though he’s not really a singer! His voice is not very big either, he just sings with his heart. But Sasha really wants to be recognized as a violinist. By the way, as a musician, he already has participated in three serious European competitions and firstly ended second, then he won the third place and only later got the first prize.

We are sitting with Maya Borisovna in a cozy room filled with her grandson’s music (the grandmother collects all his CDs), books, photos of beloved family relatives, among whom, of course, sons Alexander and Igor with their families and children. But it is sure that Sasha remains her favourite grandson, the grandmother invested so much in his upbringing! And also when Igor the younger one was still studying at the Belarusian Conservatory, it was necessary to help her daughter-in-law Natasha with the baby. Maya Borisovna didn’t even regret to leave her apartment in Vitebsk. She changed it for one in Minsk, by sharing apartment though, just to be close to them. And when Igor already was working in Norway, the grandmother went to the distant Scandinavian country and took everything in her reliable, caring hands.

“I had been living continuously with them in Oslo for 14 years, but only visited them the recent years, and now I don’t want to bother them with my troubles any longer, I will turn 90 soon after all,” – says Maya Savitskaya.
– Nevertheless, I was over 70 back then as well, but I did not feel my age! My daughter-in-law is always very busy. She still has seven choirs alone, and all of them want to have her as their leader! And the three of us often made trips around Norway together, me, my son Igor and Sashka. I visited France, Denmark, Sweden, Israel, Germany and have even been to Africa with my son, I saw the Sahara desert.

Where else can you meet such a grandmother who, even though she was an elderly woman, had been teaching her grandson to play football, while he, not knowing the Norwegian language, did not have friends. Yes, also Maya Borisovna herself learned Norwegian, in order to feel comfortable in the strange country. Granny Maroussia, as she is called at home, arranged readings of her favorite classics to the family in the evenings before going to bed, she even transported her big personal library to Norway. She and the boys skied in the mountains, made several day trips to the lakes and fjords of Scandinavia on a rubber boat, spent the night in a tent, sat by the fire and sang with the guitar. Songs and music is just common in this family.

– There were no musicians in our family, my mother worked as a planner in the bakery industries of Vitebsk and its region, and my father was an accountant in a bank, but they instilled the love for music into us, and my sister and I graduated from the Music College of Vitebsk, and then so did all our children. I also stayed in my former school to teach piano as a class teacher, but anyway, work is like breathing to me!, says Maya Borisovna.


But “the sacred love for music” in this fragile, strong woman is combined with no less sacred love for the family. And, surprisingly, her elder son Alexander, an honored worker of the cultural life of the Russian Federation, a journalist and musician living in Moscow, wants his mother to be in the circle of his acquaintances, even the most famous ones, and always when he calls her up, says: “Mom, I don’t have anyone so interesting to be together with like you.” And Igor the younger one reached the heights in music thanks to his mom in many ways. Grandson Sasha Rybak hurries to share his news on Skype with his grandmother who mastered the laptop, from whatever part of the world he just came home from. How did she manage to raise them all the way they infinitely love their Maya-Marusya-Maria, they just breathe along with her! Might this woman know some secrets of upbringing?

– I just instilled my interest in life into the children. The way I lived, so did they. And when the sons grew older, it was me who had to follow their interests. We always spent a lot of time together, and since their childhood, I didn’t allow my boys get sucked by the vacuum of the playground.
Maya Borisovna is a believer. Once and for all she came to believe in a power that orders both the cosmos and the human soul. Thanks to the name of their grandfather, the repressed priest of Veles, that actually had been hiding and saved their family from hunger and deprivation during the war, good people gave them shelter. Today the Norwegian grandson Sasha Rybak (Ryubak, as Scandinavians pronounce his name) carries his mascot, a small icon with the image of the Mother of God in his violin case, which he received from grandmother Maya.

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