A most extraordinary artist

A short story


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 Critically ill and two weeks overdue, Valentina Baliuniene made one last journey in an attempt to save her unborn baby.

Sadly she did not complete her journey but the gentle rocking motion of the train encouraged nature to take its course.

Irena Valentina Maria Von Antonio Baliunate (PiRi) was born.


Monochromatic, completely colour blind and without a mother, PiRi was nurtured by her grandmother,

a highly respected doctor and surgeon. Her father helped where possible but was restricted by his disability.


While training to be a gymnast, the 15 year old PiRi took a heavy fall and broke her back.

After three months in a coma, followed by a further twelve months of physiotherapy and rehabilitation,

she made a remarkable recovery.


                Her father encouraged her to become a lawyer but her heart was in art and medicine so she ignored the advice and

trained hard at both art and medical colleges.


Fluent in five languages, her love for medicine started to dominate her life.

Then, young and head over heels in love with Nicholas, an army officer, she joined the army.

She became a medical officer in his parachute regiment, jumping into hostile territory to support and care for the wounded soldiers.

Unfortunately, after only a few missions, Nicholas took his last breath in PiRi’s arms.

A sniper had identified his officer uniform and killed him with one shot to the head.


Distraught and bewildered, PiRi was attacked and captured.

After months as a prisoner of war and daily torture, she was surprisingly released and returned home a free woman.


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She continued with her medical education in Siberia and with little and sometimes no money,

she trained during the day as a surgeon and lived in a mortuary at night.

With outstanding examination results and a very bright future in medicine, destiny dealt her another poor card.

An ordinary autopsy left PiRi with a life changing decision to make.

She was given an ultimatum but can’t reveal the details for fears of recrimination.

She left.


                Turning to art, she qualified as an interior designer in Switzerland and once again, full of hope,

she tried to make a new life in Germany.

Life was not easy, her qualifications were not recognized by the German authorities.

For two years she worked as a waitress in a restaurant while living in the back of an old car, owned by her employer.


                Eventually, she met and married a German musician

but after just a few years her marriage failed and with two young boys to support,

the stress of life finally became too much for her body.


PiRi was diagnosed with a chronic stomach illness that will eventually claim her life.


 Her life is an incredible story of survival, commitment and endless enthusiasm with much still untold.

She has survived and after many trials and tribulations she has and always will have the biggest smile in the world.


Her journey continues ...


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