Родилась 27 июля 1984 г. в Краснодаре. Школу окончила с золотой медалью, и 2 вуза окончила с красными дипломами. Замужем, воспитываю сына, работаю преподавателем английского языка. Хобби – занимаюсь разведением кошек породы русская голубая. Пишу давно, публикуюсь в местных газетах и журналах
Plane tree Alley
Zhenya comes to visit me every couple of months. We have known each other for many years.
I am used to asking her: “How are you?”
– Oh, my family do not let me go. While all are fed, cleaned, calmed down … – she says as always. At the same time she looks from under her eyelids, her eyes seem to be saying: “Well, you know!” I answer her with a sympathetic glance… And we continue to talk easily about the weather, nature, work, fashion …
Zhenya is a little more than thirty. She is a tall, big brunette in glasses, she is beautiful in her own way. She has long hair and she almost always unbinds it. Now Zhenya appears to have a strand of gray hair which she doesn’t paint. She has some sort of a female power and grace, a virgin primitiveness in herself. She dresses modestly, but almost always in a folk-style: long skirts up to the floor, wide dresses, sandals on a flat sole with a closed nose or high boots, she often wears shawls. It may seem to some that she dresses as an old woman, but it seems to me that Zhenya is girl in “ethno” style… She has many talents: she practices yoga, she is interested in esoterics, she knows English, plays the piano and sings in a popular choir. She is still young and beautiful, but there are first wrinkles around her eyes. Zhenya always tries to hold her back, but when she thinks nobody sees her she slouches …
In a couple of hours it is time for Zhenya to leave home. She throws back the phrase about the family again: “They are not so difficult.” “Aren’t they?” – I am surprised. She is smiling only with her lips.
– Well, I need to go.
– Say hi at home! – I say politely. – Get out more often. Call in after taking your mother to work. Do you need to take her away at 1 p. m.? Hospital is near here, you can sit with me from 9 a. m. till 1 p.m..
– I wish I could. But Fyodor … You know … It is necessary to feed him, wash him, shave him, clean after him… but someday for sure.
Fyodor is Eugene’s older brother. He is almost forty. He is a Down.
Zhenya and I have been friends for a long time. We met at English courses during the first year of university. Then we visited American Club together, hung out in the same company and went to the same summer camp for two consecutive years.
And only a few years later Eugene confessed to me that her brother was a Down. Then I realized why she had never invited me to her flat and avoided talking about her family. Her classmates, who had studied with her side by side for five years did not know her secret.
Zhenya adjust to her life as much as she could. She can’t go to the full time job from nine to six because she has to take her mom to and away from work constantly and make sure that Fyodor doesn’t do something. She earns a living by teaching music to disabled children and giving English lessons.
Every year she travels abroad for her birthday. Alone.
Zhenya’s mother Tatyana Fedorovna is seventy. It looks good for her age, and she could still help Zhenya with Fyodor. She as well as Zhenya is a tall, dark-skinned woman, wearing glasses. Recently she has become very stout. At forty she underwent an unsuccessful operation on the hip and she became crippled. Aunt Tanya has been on crutches for 30 years, but she is still a pediatrician at a hospital and Eugene drives her to work at 9 a. m. and takes back home at 1 p.m. every day.
Aunt Tanya had always been severe and her complicated life spoiled her temper completely. At thirty she had her first child who was sick. Pediatrician by education she knew about the high probability of childbirth of a Down before pregnancy as her husband had s sister – Down. There was no ultrasound and complex genetic analyzes that time, it was impossible to have an abortion at three month pregnancy after learning a bad prognosis. She probably hoped to be lucky; maybe she thought that it couldn’t happen to her. Maybe she was much in love, perhaps, she wanted a child from this man.
After giving birth to Fyodor, Aunt Tanya did not abandon him. I do not know whether she hoped to the help of her parents or the support of her husband, whether she was afraid of God, but she did not take on a sin and kept the child. Her husband left her and his son in six months, he married again, but he did not have any children… Aunt Tanya’s senescent parents helped her to bring up Fyodor.
Ten years later she gave birth to Eugene. She didn’t marry her father. Zhenya spoke little about it. As I understand, in her life it was a casual man, a holiday romance, almost a night on the train or something like that. Whatever it was, but Zhenya never knew her father. It seemed to me that Aunt Tanya gave birth to Eugene to have someone to give a glass of water in her old age and look after Fyodor. As for bone marrow transplant for an older child parents give birth to a younger one.
I don’t often visit Eugene’s. I don’t feel comfortable to drop in, to throng. – their apartment is always crowded. Usually, Fedya sits with us in Zhenya’s room, and Aunt Tanya fidgeting behind the door. Fyodor always confuses me.
One day I came to Zhenya’s to return the English textbooks, and then we sat in the kitchen, drinking tea and watching television. At the time Fyodor was crapping on the floor in the corridor. I was shocked. Zhenya then explained: “He is used to going to the toilet properly, it was just a protest.”After this incident I began to visit her even rarely.
Once Zhenya and I were walking around. It was the beginning of May. We were slowly walking along the alley of plane trees. Because of the tall trees we could not see the sky. It was already evening, the cool breeze was blowing, the air was fresh. Recently it had been a warm spring rain. There were a few people around. The whole atmosphere was conducive to revelations. We got to talking.
Zhenya rarely spoke about her family, but then she burst. Who knows whether she spoke to me or simply thought aloud?
– I often think about how it is difficult to make a choice whether to leave the child-Down or not – she shared with me. – Now how those who do not have an abortion, who do not send their children-Downs to the orphanage are praised. Caring for a Down is good for showbiz stars with their millions, three-storey cottages and staff of servants. For many showbiz stars a disabled child is also a PR. But for me in a two-bedroom small flat with my disabled mom a brother – Down is an encumbrance…
I was sad to hear her words, but I knew she was right.
– I do not see the princes on white horses who want to share my worries, not those princes – even trubodurs! – She giggled hysterically.
– The man who will dare to be with me most of his life is to take care of my disabled brother. Nowadays, a man is afraid of the birth of his own child – to say nothing of the maintenance and care of someone else’s forty-year old Down. I would like to get married someday, to have kids. But maybe this is not for me? Maybe, everyone has his own life?
Ray of sunshine occasionally made their way through the dense foliage. The sun was out there somewhere, behind layers of leaves of plane trees. Zhenya was beside me, looking somewhere to the side; she continued:
– Fyodor is good, kind, QUIET … such people even work abroad. He does a lot by himself …
Then with quite another, hysterical voice:
– Why did not my mother have an abortion? She knew that the risk of having a sick child was very large. Why did not she give him for adoption?..
I wrapped myself in the jacket: was it becoming colder or did I shiver because of her words?
We left the plane tree alley, it became somehow lighter. We crossed the road and went on to the avenue of maples.
Zhenya continued. She spoke easily, and it seemed to me that her words sounded from a distance:
– When will my life begin? When will anything change? … It is said Downs do not live up to fifty …