2013-02-15I was rushing to work and it looked like I was being late: our Japanese partners, for whom I had to interpret, were to arrive at 9 a.m. To get to the company’s premises, where the talks were going to be held, I had yet to squeeze into the overcrowded bus, get to the metro, go two stations by the metro, change to a tram and then walk (run?) for another 10 minutes. Besides, I had two huge arrears of written translation to be completed no later than this afternoon. My nerves were on edge. I was beyond my limits. I’m 63 – the age when you start needing a comfort zone called retirement.

When I dashed out into the corridor and headed for the elevator, Nina Ivanivna, a neighbor, looked out of her door. Being about 50 years of age, she lived only with her son, who was some 20 years old. The son was mentally ill.  On rare days, when he went out for a walk, you could see him wantonly beating his fists on the entrance doors, or tearing down advertisements and kissing them.

This time I understood that Nina Ivanivna needed my help. Her face was pale and strands of grey hair trailed down her forehead. “There are two strangers in my flat… I can’t drive them out..”

I didn’t hesitate. I followed Nina Ivanivna into her one-room flat. I didn’t even think what kind of strangers they were and what I would be doing with them.

I saw nobody in the room except Andryusha, Nina Ivanivna’s son. He sat on the floor gloating on me.

“Where are they?” I asked Nina Ivanivna, trying to be as calm as I could. “Here’s one”, she said pointing at Andryusha. The other is in the kitchen.”

The kitchen was empty…

I understood. Nina Ivanivna got insane too. Might have been the effect of the continuous stress she had living with her mentally deranged son.

I turned round, went back to my apartment and explained the situation to my wife. She immediately went with me to Nina Ivanivna’s. “Come, come, Nina”, she said. “It’s Andryusha, your son.”  Nina Ivanivna looked at us: “Is he?” There was something childish in her eyes. And there was relief too.

Seeing that things are more or less under control, I re-started for work. After the Japanese team had left, I spoke to my boss and obtained his permission to be absent. I went to the polyclinics and called for the doctor. The doctor arrived at Nina Ivanivna’s apartment  later in the afternoon. After talking to Nina Ivanivna for some time she told my wife that Nina Ivanivna and Alyosha would certainly be hospitalized.


How often we focus on our own concerns and anxieties thinking them crucial for our present or future! If we only knew what our neighbors are going through!


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  1. Hana Says:

    so touchin! very generous indeed! it’s great to know that still there r carin and good ppl around 🙂

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