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Baranovskiy, Sergey
Written by   
, 28 2006

Age 46; Russia, Moscow

Lenaand Sergey lived together only a year and a half. Thatwas how long they were married.

Lena met Sergey in 1969, at summer camp. Theywere 14back then, and were friends ever since, all through the rest of their lives. WhenLena married Vladimir Nikishin, an avid skier like herself whom she met in the mountains, Sergey called her up and said: I congratulate you, but either way, someday you'll be mine, because Ilove you so. Back then they were not yet 21, but their parallel lives for the next 18years had justbegun.

Lena gave birth to Andrei and put everything into his upbringing. Sergey finished the military language institute with degrees in English and Farsi, and ended up in Afghanistan at the end of the 1970s, when the war began. Heremained there 6years, except for short holidays backhome.

I didn't feel romantic love for him, says Lena. He was just a friend. Avery dependable and trustworthy one. Icould always count on his support. Hecame to Moscow on vacation, was accepted into our family, he even helped out Vladimir when he had some difficulties. ButSergey never got married all this time. Sometimes he said that he was waiting for my divorce, that he was faithful to me.

Lena taught chemistry in high school. Andrei grew up, and he developed an ability for languages and science, and already from 6th grade on Lena and her mother helped the boy prepare for entrance exams at Moscow University. Andrei was a thorough student: if he was learning about mineralogy, the whole house was full of his collections and stacks of books. Hememorized all the Latin names of various rocks. How are you able to do this? asked Lena. I like to, so therefore Iremember them quickly, replied Andrei.

And then we fell on hard times, remembers Lena. Andrei was preparing for the university, but we had no money for supplemental courses. Vladimir wasn't earning anything, and he had taken to drinking. Thenhe started seeing another woman. Iunderstood it all, but Ididn't have the time or strength to deal with it. Andthen Sergey came to the rescue. Hewas now a lieutenant colonel in the reserves, and had started a business. Hegave me money for Andrei's tutors, while Vladimir carried on like it didn't concern him.

Andrei finally was accepted into the college of chemistry at Moscow University, and went to a professor to determine which discipline he should pursue. Theprofessor asked: After school do you plan on moving to the West? Ordo you want to work here? That's what your field will depend on. Andrei answered: I will stay here. Then the professor smiled and said: I get 100dollars a month. Andrei returned home and said to Lena: He is a true scientist. Hehas nothing and needs nothing other than pure science. Iwant this. Andrei chose the field of macromolecular bonding, that is, pure science. Sucha specialization allowed him to chose either pharmacology or cloning.

It the latter days Andrei spent less time at the university. Lenaasked him why, and he answered that he already knew it all. Likely, being such a deep and fundamental person, he already learned a lot while preparing for admission, and while a student he heavily occupied himself with English and German. Heattended a branch of the Goethe Institute in Moscow, and took English classes. Twoyears in a row he travelled to England, and was in Ireland. TheEnglish language was easy for him, and he defended his theses at Moscow University in English, hoping for a serious career in science. Everything was goingwell.

When Andrei turned 18, Vladmir left the family and started another. Itwas his latest love, but Lena's patience had finally given out. Lenarecalls: I talked it over with Andrei, and he told me: 'Let him go, he doesn't treat us well'.

And so it was Sergey's time. Hisaid to Lena, the school teacher, became permanent. Hewas ready to do anything possible to make her life care-free. Lena, for the first time, felt protected. Nolonger did she have to bear her heavy burdenalone.

Of course, Ithought that, if Sergey showed up, it would be uncomfortable for Andrei, so once again Iopened up and told him: 'This is Sergey, who loves me'. AndAndrei just answered: 'I know, because everyone knows this'. Andso we got married. Iwas so scared starting things over again, but Andrei gave his blessing.

The first thing Sergey told Lena was that they needed to buy a different apartment in her building, one meant for a different family. Otherwise he couldn't live like a real man in hers. Atthat time an old 5-story building was being torn down nearby, so they decided to build their new home there. Fromscratch.

A happy period of planning, projects, and ideas began. Theypromised themselves that, just as soon as everything was done, they would throw a big, noisy wedding and house-warming at the same time. Sergey had Georgian roots and he did not know how to observe family holidays in restaurants. Hesaid that in their new apartment they would celebrate for a wholeweek.

Everything was done in the apartment. OnOctober 22nd we carried furniture to Andrei's room, cleaned, and at 10that night back in our house we made our toasts, and the fellows who were moving the furniture drank with us and wished us a long life in our new home. Onthe 23rd Iwent and got tickets for 'Nord-Ost'. Sergey came and got me at work. Ichilled a bottle of wine, fried some meat, but Sergey said: 'There's no time. We'll come back after the show and sit down to eat'. Wewere in a good mood, and had no forebodings about what was to come. Justa feeling of happiness and the start of a new life.

Between acts Sergey went out onto the street to smoke, but Lena and Andrei wandered about the foyer. Theyworried a little when after the second call Sergey still stood outside.

We were in the 4th row, in the best seats. Whenit all begame, Andrei and Ibegan to tremble, but Sergey turned to stone and said right away: 'No one will save us'. Itold him that it couldn't be, that Putin learned his lesson after 'Kursk', that they'd save us now. ButSergey repeated: 'No, no one needs us'. Mytrembling passed, but Ididn't cry. Itried to calm down Andrei, but he told me: 'I'm not afraid to die'. Sergey repeated that, when it was all over, we'd get a real church wedding, and we wouldn't wait for our house-warming. AChechen woman came over and pointed a pistol at Andrei. Itried to block her, but they wouldn't let me. Nomatter how hard Itried to seat Andrei between me and Sergey, they told me: 'You must sit between us, we'll protect you'. Sergey had all his documents and officer's identification. Ioffered to hide them in my boot and toss them in the toilet when Igot the chance, but he refused: 'No. Iwon't disgrace my rank, I'll keep my documents, come what may'.

Andrei noticed the gas first, and said that it smelled like something sweet. Lenawet some handkerchiefs. First for Andrei, then Sergey, then the last for herself. Allthat she remembers was putting her hand up to her face. Thenblackness

Later Lena watched video stills from the hall after the operation. Sheand Sergey were no longer there, but Andrei was still sitting alone in the 4th row of the empty hall. Hesat, with his head lolling to the side. Theyhad not dragged him out because he was very large, over six feet tall, andheavy.

At the nearby War and Labor Veteran's Hospital, to where he had been taken, Andrei Vladimirovich Nikishin's death was fixed at 8:20 AM on October 26th. According to medical documents, he was presented already in terminal agony at 7:40 AM, two hours and forty minutes after the gas attack. Fromthe theater hall to the hospital is 200paces.

I didn't wake up until the hospital. Theytold me: 'It's okay, it's all over'. Isaid: 'But where's my husband? Myfamily?' They said: 'Everyone was saved'.

Lena was brought into intensive care. Whenshe came to, she did not sense the tragedy yet tocome

And then two women arrived. Oneof them asked: 'What would you do if you found out that both have died?' And Inoticed that the second woman was yanking at the first's skirt. Atthat moment the door opened, and my mother came in. Ijust asked: 'What? Both?' and Mama answered: 'Yes, both.' Iturned to stone. Ipractically didn't cry. Itwas such a horror that even tears couldn't cover it up.

Lena buried Andrei and Sergey next to each other, and reserved a place for herself. 1

Novaya gazeta #79 (2003)


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Comments (2)
1. Written by , on 02-11-201215:10
, , , 1979, . , ! !
2. Written by , on 22-01-201319:16
1982, 19821983, , , , , !

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