Nora Volkow: Two paths to the future  pg. 4

Nora with her father.  Esteban Volkov says he and his wife, who died in 1997, tried to nurture in their daughters an appreciation of the artistic and intellectual life—and freedom of expression.  "I established an absolute true democracy in the family," he says.  "There was no imposition.  Each one could choose the career that she would like."  Natalia earned a doctorate in information systems from the London School of Economics, and is a deputy director general of Mexico's National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics.  Her identical twin, Patricia, is a doctor and expert on AIDS.
Photos courtesy of Nora and Natalia Volkow
Esteban Volkov Bronstein became a chemist and married Palmira Fernández, a fashion designer from Madrid who had fled the Spanish Civil War. They had four daughters, and continued to live in Trotsky’s carefully preserved house (it is now a museum).

Volkov’s daughters, who end their last name with a “W” instead of the Russian “V,” gradually heard details of their great-grandfather’s story—but not from their father. “It was a very, very painful period, so he couldn’t really speak about it,” Nora explains.

They learned from the constant stream of visitors who knocked on Trotsky’s door.

“As little girls, whenever somebody rang the bell and asked us to guide them through the house, we did so, and that was a privilege,” recalls Natalia. “We usually took a long time talking to them—listening to them.”

On one occasion, a group of visitors from South America took the tour, and afterwards Nora got into a lengthy conversation about One Hundred Years of Solitude, which she was reading. Later she learned that one of the men with whom she had been talking all afternoon was the book’s author, Gabriel García Márquez.

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