0-the green floorI have known Mykola longer than any other person. Actually, the roots of our friendship go as far back as our mothers’ childhoods – they were classmates and had been sharing the same desk till they left school and married “good guys”, as they put it, soon afterwards. Mykola and I were born in the same year, and after another seven years we went together to “our mothers’ school.” As our mothers, we also sat next to each other at the desk, got our noses to every possible grindstone and loved the German language – our favorite subject. Later our roads parted: I entered the foreign language department at a pedagogical institute, Mykola failed in his entrance exam in German and switched over to agronomic studies. He got a degree in agriculture, settled down in a village some twenty kilometers from Kyiv. Now he is a farmer, he has two cars, and he is “his own 1-vegetable gardenboss,” as he himself expressed it. Kyiv is a good market for his organic produce. He works hard, but feels financially secure.

Now and then we visit each other – I go to his place on the Left Bank, or he comes to my Obolon. Yesterday my wife and I were invited by Mykola to spend the Sunday with his family and his two cousins. Needless to say, the invitation was accepted most willingly. The floor of Mykola’s house inside was traditionally strewn with green leaves, and the rooms were pleasantly cool. However, it was decided that a better place would be under a cherry plum tree where the table was spread. While the food was being carried from the kitchen to the table under the tree, I was entrusted with a responsible task – to keep watch over the food – 3-strawberry boyguarding it against their cat, a potential miscreant. However, my heart warmed towards the cat when I saw his “patriotically” colored collar, and from time to time I secretly dropped meaty bits feeding him under the table. Later I found out that the cat bore a proud name of UKROP, which is a compounded abbreviation of “Ukrayinskyi Opir” – “Ukrainian Resistance.” Incidentally, Mykola is rather politically minded and very critical of every Ukrainian president and all the oligarchs for their pinning small business and entrepreneurship. With a satellite dish on the roof of his house, Mykola is more versed in nuances of current politics than I am. “Have you watched the latest match (of Euro-2016)? he asks indignantly. It looks like the coach instructed our football-players like this: you, guys, try to win, but don’t attack the opposing side … Very much like our soldiers are instructed in Donbas (in the East of the country) by their generals. And then… don’t you think, Vitaliy, that it’s most indecent, if not criminal, to send young boys to the war zone and make them living targets for the Russian fire, and at the same time to do business with Russia?”

I listened to Mykola agreeing to every word he said. I enjoyed the Northern Ukrainian dialect of his cousins while they were talking with each other. I was craving for those half-forgotten tunes, for this lush greenery which was enveloping me now, for this fresh evening in the open, for the direct truths told by my friend point-blank, sometimes in blunt terms. And I also knew that he valued no less the time when we had been sharing the same desk and the same textbook in a small village school that had only three classrooms. I know it each time when he phones to invite me to his place and jocularly says a few opening phrases in German.8-help yourselves to varenyky

7-his name is UKROP

6-potential miscreant


9-the ruby-reds on balcony of Floor sixteen


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  1. rocca Says:


  2. Olia Says:


  3. vitaliyb Says:

    Thanks for this emoticon, Olia! Are you enTAILing that it’s the right one to decipher on a vaCATion? I’m very PAWsitive about it and think it PURRfect.

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