When someone dies in a Russian household, there is a strange tradition to cover all the mirrors until the funeral. It is believed that if the soul of the departed happens to catch a glimpse of itself in the mirror it will be trapped in this world forever. I found out about this sad ritual as a teen. My father was a renowned environmental physicist, and after the Chernobyl disaster he volunteered to lead the team of scientists who were charged with figuring out the ways to deal with the radiation. As a result of his frequent trips there he passed away suddenly at the age of 50. That day I grew up in one second flat.