“`Stalin is dead!’ she shouted now, from my doorway. I went cold all over and pulled her into the room. As long as a dictator lives he is immortal. I decided my colleague must finally have taken leave of her senses: for such words you could easily be accused of plotting to kill the Leader and be packed off to rot in a camp to the end of your days.”
Though dead, Stalin still controls his subjects. Even for so tough and stoical a survivor as Mandelstam, her first reaction is fear.
“I switched on the radio and was overcome by a joy such as I had never known before in the whole of my life. It was true: the Immortal One was dead. I now rejoiced as I went on packing my wretched rags and tatters, and for the first time in many years I looked at the world with new eyes.”