In an obscure piece of news, the world was notified recently of the death of Lana Peters aka Svetlana Allilueva at the age of 85. Born on 28th February, 1926, Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva was the youngest child and only daughter of one of the most powerful man in the twentieth century namely Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. One of the prominent figures of the soviet revolution and the torch bearer of communism is accused of being responsible of death of thousands of man and whose memories still rouse fear amongst Russians. The life story of his hot tempered, headstrong and to some extent quarrelsome daughter whom he fondly called his “little sparrow” during her childhood is one of the being wandering in search of the self.
She married twice between year 1945-1950 and both the marriages ended in divorce leaving her with a son named Iosif and a daughter named Yeketerina. The decade of 1950-1960 was tough for her after Nikita Khrushchev publically denounced Stalin for his crimes. She also shed her father’s name during this period and opted for her mother’s surname. It was in 1963 that she met an Indian communist Brajesh Singh and they fell in love. When Brijesh Singh died in 1966, she was allowed to bring his ashes to India. But instead of returning to the Soviet Union, she walked into the US assembly in New Delhi and requested for a political asylum.
It was the tense era of the cold war between USA and Soviet Union (Yes, it existed outside James Bond movies i.e., in the real world, too) and she became the mascot for defeat of communism after her arrival in USA in 1967 when she publicly denounced his father and communist rule. She was treated with extreme generosity and the memoir written by her “Twenty Letters to a Friend” became the best-seller in USA.
In year 1970, she married William Wes Peters and changed her name to Lana Peters. The couple had a daughter named Olga, but the marriage did not survive longer than 3 years. Svetlana’s behavior to Olga throughout her childhood seemed very harsh to her amercian friends and led them to believe that she was repeating to her child what she herself had suffered as a child. The haunting memories of her mother’s suicide and the harsh discipline demanded by her parents never left her.
She found the American schools excessively lacking in discipline and moved to Britain in 1982 to find a strict boarding school for Olga. Depressed and to some extent repenting the distance from her elder children, she went to the Soviet Embassy in London in 1984 and asked for a permission to return to Soviet Union. But in a few days of her return to Soviet Union, she had quarreled with her son, and her elder daughter never visited her. And in 1986, she once again returned to United States where she spent rest of her life. She died of Colon cancer on November 22, 2011 at Richland centre in Virginia.
In the later years of her life, she went into seclusion, became modest and unassuming and a latest interview in 2007 she repented the fact that people invariably connected her to her father, though she had tried to live outside the shadow of him.
May her soul find the peace that she searched across the Earth throughout her life…….