Sunday, September 05, 2004

Mishah told me this story today, out of the blue:

When he was 9 or 10, in the third grade, sometime in 1978 or 1979, he and his twin brother Max (fraternal, but they do look alike a lot) got featured in the national children's newspaper, Pionerskaya Pravda: the story was about them playing chess, competing and all on the kids' level. Like, isn't it cute, twins playing chess...

The newspaper's name translates as The Pioneer's Truth, and there were local versions of it, too, but the one Mishah's talking about was quite a big deal... Pioneers were something like boy scouts, with a communist twist; we've all been pioneers, and we all had to subscribe to this paper... I don't remember much about its contents because I was a very scatterbrained kid and I only started following the news and stuff seriously when I was 21 or so...

Anyway, after that story about them was published, they started receiving letters from kids from all over the Soviet Union. The kids, most likely urged by their parents and teachers, must have been writing to tell how much they admired Mishah and Max, the usual thing then, more of an exercise in writing and making friends than anything else. And one kid wrote from Beslan (or a place near Beslan), wrote with an accent (e.g. many typos), Mishah says.

And he thought about that letter today - what if that kid (who's now probably in his mid-30s) was a hostage, what if this kid's kid was a hostage... Or perhaps - hopefully - he had moved elsewhere, at some point in the past 13 years, as many many people here did. Maybe he even lives here in St. Pete, for all we know...

For the past few years Mishah's been playing chess with the computer; he can't get beyond the most elementary level - and that causes him to curse A LOT.

Me, I've never heard about the town of Beslan until four days ago.

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