Oksana -It seems but days ago that you sat on my lap rattling off words in English proud of your ability to master languages.
I present you with a new challenge to start at, a skill – teaching. “Oksana, take these pictures of words and hold them as you point to them. First say the word in your language, then say the word slowly in English. Very slowly form the letters “R_AB_BIT. ” Atleechna you are a natural.”
My eyes sparkle as I look at the proud face of a woman who never knew she would be a mama and certainly not at 65. “Nina be happy. Oksana will make you proud. At six she is fluent in Russian and English and is attacking Polish.”
Oksana holds the cards with hands that barely shake. Just tiny reminders of the drug addiction she had as a baby. “Yes, you will grow beautiful like the rose and your knowledge of the world like its thorns will keep you strong.”
I silently remove the picture of a bottle from the stack of cards. It too closely resembles the scores of bottles that Oksana’s mama found herself wrapped around. They found Oksana’s mama at the bottom of her bottle one day; a screaming 5-year-old clutching to her ankles. “What was it you poured for yourself? Sleeping pills and Vodka? The Vodka never hid the scars that you got from your husband’s beatings did it? Oksana’s little body only survived because your body shielded her. Your older son Sasha was not so fortunate. What pile of broken glass does he lie under? Prison is too good a place for a man who uses broken Vodka bottles to tattoo his son using blood as ink.”
‘”Da,” Oksana very good. You pronounced WA_TER well, just a tiny hint of a V, but not much. Nina your love has cleansed this girl like water. Yes, she will always be old for her years and bear a certain sorrow, but look at her radiant smile.”
“Dance Oksana dance with the children as they play in the waves of the Azov Sea. Fly high with the gull; he too has much knowledge of the world he sees below him. Crimea is etched with scars well hidden in the sunlight, but you understand them.”
“Persevere Nina, this is a job for a young woman. The energy and vitality of this young mind will test you. Be strong for her. For one day Oksana will be a strong woman. She will hold the hands of other young girls who suffer at the point of the needle, are cast offs, or are used by men for momentary pleasure. Shield her from her mother and father’s world. She will always wear the scars like Crimea, but she will hopefully wear bravery like a crown.”
I have fictionalized the story of a young girl I met while working in the Crimea enough so she can’t be identified. “Oksana’s” story is one of victory because she was rescued by a compassionate woman who lived in the neighborhood. “Oksana” would have otherwise joined her mama soon as most of the discarded children of that country do.
I’m also using this story for the Daily Post at WordPress. The challenge is to write three paragraphs (Person Place and Thing), though you can choose to write more or less if you wish — the goal is to get you watching closely, observing, and collecting people, places, and things to use in your creative writing projects. It’ s story that I believe is poignant and needs to be told.