How Long is Exile?: BOOK III The Long Road Home


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At the end of Book I How Long is Exile? — The Song and Dance Festival of Free Latvians — widowed Milda Arājs had taken a new direction in her life. She had decided to break solidarity with her mainstream ethnic community and make good her promise to her daughter Ilga that they would make a “pilgrimage” to Soviet Latvia at Christmas time (1983) and welcome the baby Krišjānis, born to American Māra and Latvian Igors, as the symbol of a new era. Also, Milda had chosen to give herself to Pēteris Vanags, the one-armed veteran she encountered in the Esslingen DP camp after the war. (Story in Book II—Out of the Ruins of Germany.) They married shortly before the momentous trip, and soon thereafter Milda joined him in Washington, D.C. For a decade they lived happily, making up for lost years of forbidden longing and desire—until the Soviet Union fell, and the Kingdom of Exile felt the shocks and aftershocks.

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