для читателей старше 18 лет
One day, Richard Gere said: “People, you can’t hide from your poison. It exists, and it will find you, so, as my friend’s mother said: ‘If I knew that my life would end this way, I would live it to the fullest, enjoying everything I was told not to do!’ None of us get out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself as something secondary. Eat delicious food. Walk in the sun. Jump into the ocean. Share the precious truth that is in your heart. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is simply no time for the rest.”
Every person has one life. And everyone lives it in their own way. Someone lives up to a plan, and someone lives a silly, strange, but interesting life, by his own code.
We never know what fate is preparing for us. This expression has acquired a new meaning for me when one day, unexpectedly for myself, I entered into a correspondence with a stranger from India, whom I later married.
Before the acquaintance with my future Indian husband, I was not interested in India, but since childhood, I have been a fan of the work of the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. My parents loved to read books. Almost all the cabinets in the house were crammed with books by various writers. We had the several works of Tagore. As this great Indian poet, I loved to buy bouquets of fresh flowers and put them on the table, then to drink coffee in a beautiful setting from good service and on a beautiful tablecloth. It made my life happier. As Rabindranath Tagore used to say: “Of course, I could live without flowers, but they help me maintain respect for myself because they prove that I am not constrained by everyday concerns. They are evidence of my freedom.”
* * *
Before India I worked for an international human rights organization.
I loved my comfortable life and my interesting job. Every day I went to a colony or prison and worked with convicts. From there I went to my office and studied the appeals of convicts, making for them appeals, petitions, and complaints.
In the mornings, pensioners, women usually came to me with their disabled children, to whom I gave my company car so that it was easier for them to go to hospitals. I sought for them free examinations and treatment in good clinics.
One day a woman came to me with her child. She asked me to help her with the examination and treatment for the child. I paged thresholds of various instances and institutions, bored with letters to health officials. In the end, we managed to send her and her child for free examination and treatment abroad. I subsequently had a lot of such cases, and for everyone, I tried my best, regardless of their nationality or religion.
American employees regularly visited our office to check our activities, because our organization was sponsored from the US budget.
One day, when I was sitting in my office in the winter, my boss approached me and said that one recidivist in prison required a meeting with me. The next day I went to the city prison.
I usually went to correctional colonies, where the persons sentenced were serving their sentences. This time I had to go to the prison, where there were persons for whom they had not yet been sentenced, or who were waiting to be sent to a colony. Everything here breathed uncertainty, gloomy and hopeless longing. Prisoners dressed in black robes, behind the fence of the checkpoint, inside the prison yard, did their fatigue duties. There was a grim longing for freedom in the air. I passed a checkpoint, then a yard, another checkpoint, another yard and entered the prison building.
It was damp and smelled like mold.
I was asked to go to the prison warden’s office.
A gray-haired man with a stern face and clear eyes sat in the office.
— The person who wants to see you is an old recidivist, a wolf who brought a lot of grief to people. Why are you defending him?
— I do not defend him, but his rights. If his rights have been violated, then we must correct the error.
They provided me with two security guards with the Kalashnikov gun, and we went to the recidivist. A Russian grandfather of about 60 years old was sitting on a chair, his face was arrogant, his faded eyes were sly, and his hands resembled sled-hammers.
— Hello. You said that you wanted to meet with me to discuss your criminal case; — I said and then called my name and surname.
— Surely you are not the Jana, are you? — The recidivist laughed. — You are very popular here. Our guys in prison told me so much about you that you helped a lot to many people, I thought that there such an adult wolf would come, but you look like a kind angel.
— I can leave if you no longer need my help, — I said, shrugging my shoulders.
— No, let me tell you what kind of help I need.
— Tell me what you need.
The grandfather talked for two hours, I wrote down for him, asked questions, then he said:
— Girl, I don’t know why, but I believe you. I think you really will help me. I am an old man who reads people like books. You are a pure soul.
I asked him to show me all the documents of his case.
— Bring my documents from my cell, — he asked the prison guard. When they brought the documents, we examined them together and discussed each piece of paper.
Then he turned to me.
— I will give you all the original documents of my case, I believe you, help me.
— I do not promise, but I will try my best.
At that, we parted.
Next week, after studying his case, I wrote requests to various authorities, prepared complaints. When the preparation for appealing the verdict came to an end, I went to the Supreme Court.
The reception in the Supreme Court lasted as usual; I explained the essence of the case, showed all my papers, the answers received to my inquiries from various institutions, the complaint, and other documents.
After some time, the answer came from the Supreme Court that the Supreme Court had considered my complaint and agreed with my arguments and therefore sends the case of my client for review at the first instance, that is, to the city court. In the definition of a Supreme judge, it was written that the person was subject to total justification, and arguments were listed, including those that I stated in my complaint.
After some time, the court of the first instance was held. As a result, the recidivist was acquitted of all the articles on the case, for which he had already served three years and which was reviewed several times before me with the participation of eminent lawyers.
No one, except the most mistakenly convicted person, is interested in his release. The state, by and large, does not care who exactly to punish for the crime committed. The truth is interesting only to one person — to the one who is undeservedly deprived of freedom. To catch a real criminal, to prove his guilt is a costly affair for the authorities.
For this, there are human rights organizations. Human rights defenders are those screws in the judicial system, which, indirectly, by the very fact of their existence and response to human rights violations, force investigators to look for the real culprit. Therefore, as long as we, human rights activists, caring citizens, movements, organizations, will remain indifferent, the government will be forced to perform its protective functions. In itself, it will not do anything, because it does not contain any guarantees.
One day early in the morning my phone rang at my house. I picked up the phone and heard the voice of the same grandfather-recidivist:
— Jana, I’m home, I was released from prison, thank you very much.
Three years later, at the age of 63, he passed away. His friends called me and said that he blessed me before his death.
* * *
Sometimes I attended international conferences. Ministers and ambassadors, diplomats, employees of various departments of different states came there.
There I met a young man who served as a diplomat in Moscow.
* * *
India… An unknown, all-knowing force controls events and people. In India, everything is not going the way you wanted or planned. India knows what you have in your soul and even more than you know about yourself. Wise India knows what to give and what to take. India calls a person when his spiritual world needs to change. I do not know why it is India that has mystical power, why not any other country. On the Internet, you will find many reviews of travelers who have visited India. The most interesting thing is that all the reviews are different and seem to describe completely different countries, but all of them are true. Everyone has his own India.
On the territory of modern India, there lived many different nations, empires, and principalities, which time took to oblivion.
Each state had its own characteristics, customs, and habits. Each era has brought its own changes. Much has changed with the arrival of the European invaders. Therefore, India is such a different and interesting country.
Once I received a message from a stranger of Indian origin who worked in Saudi Arabia under a contract as a welder. For some unknown reason, I responded to his letter, and we began to correspond. He was ugly and had no virtues that would make me fall in love with him. Our strange correspondence continued by reason of his intrusiveness.
We had a big age difference — almost ten years. The young man was free and had the most dishonest views of life.
— I once had a virtual lover from Thailand, — he boasted. — She was sixty years old. I will have many foreign women. From the previous, I will go to the next — and not empty-handed. And then I will marry an Indian woman with a good dowry and with her money I’ll go abroad. I’ll live for my own pleasure.
— But will you take the Indian woman with you?
— No. We bring a wife to sit at home and care for our parents. She will stay with my mom. Abroad, I will find another woman: a rich, white, aged.
— Will you divorce her?
— No need to divorce. Simply, she will suddenly die from the poisoning — that’s all. A widower can remarry.
— Are you kidding!!!
— No. I am not kidding. Do you want me to show you the correspondence with my women? We are all serious.
— Show me.
Then I saw how he wrote to many women at the same time, how those women sincerely planned meetings, weddings, how he asked them for their money. It seems that he did not lie. In front of me on the laptop screen was a real marriage speculator, who treated me as his friend.
One day, having casually talked, I shared with him my plans to go to America or the UK to study. As soon as he heard the phrase “I am going to the UK or America” from me, amazing metamorphosis happened to him right before my eyes. From the lecherous rogue who revealed to me all his secrets about how to deceive women for money, the young man turned into a decent, wise, serious young man. He suddenly looked at me as a woman.
Since then, I have noticed that my Indian acquaintance has become a bit more persistent and intrusive in communicating with me. He became more affectionate but secretive. I have never heard from his talk about women. To myself, I noticed his efforts to gain my confidence.
The yesterday’s cunning little boy, who used to communicate with me as with a middle-aged elder friend, disappeared and today, suddenly, turned into my beau.
Despite the seeming changes for the better, my new Indian acquaintance still strongly reminded me of Tenardieu’s spouse from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
Let me remind the reader how the author of the novel described Tenardieu and his wife: “These were those dwarf natures that easily grow into monsters if they are warmed up by an ominous flame. In the character of his wife was bestial rudeness, in the character of her husband — innate meanness. Both were highly gifted with that disgusting ability to develop, which grows only in the direction of evil. There are souls like crayfish. Instead of going forward, they continually move back toward the darkness and use life experience only to enhance their moral deformity, becoming more and more corrupt and more and more saturated with nasty. It was such a soul that the spouses Tenardieu had”.
For the stunningly exact resemblance of the character to the character, I myself began to call the new acquaintance “Tenardieu”. Also it was surprisingly similar to the real name of him. I am ready to vouch that Sergeant Tenardieu was just like that person in his youth.
Indian Tenardieu spent all his working time in a room with the air conditioning turned on, talked to girls on social networks, leaving for lunch and dinner. It was a slacker who at first wore a protective helmet on the object, like a fancy dress, but at the same time, he dealt exclusively with the fact that he spent all day running away from a construction supervisor with a helmet on his head. The poor supervisor chased him all over the construction site to give instructions. The young man was well able to run with obstacles, so the supervisor never caught up with him.
In his deep conviction, work was something shameful, unworthy of its origin. He said that in India there is a division into southern and northern Indians.
— I’m not a fool from the south of India to work and do what my boss says, — he once told me. — I am from the north of India, and I will not work, we are ashamed to work, we are not slaves.
— So you are from the highest caste? Why ashamed to work?
— No, I’m from the carpenter caste of khati. — But I’m from northern India. This is not a slave south. In general, I think that working is unworthy of a decent person.
— I do not agree with you. Thinking like yours, people in Europe were many centuries ago. This used to be the case in ancient times: it was a shame for the lord to work, slaves worked for him. Then there was a cultural leap, and for decent people, it became a common thing to work. Thanks to this mental and physical work, the technique via which we speak with you appeared, the airplanes we fly on, beautiful clothes and cosmetics that we use. Is it all created by slaves? No! This is all created by hardworking educated people.
Tenardieu told me a lot about his country and the people in it.
According to him, only representatives of the untouchable caste are engaged in hard work and dirty work in India, officially the term “untouchables” is not used — these castes are called “registered”, in English scheduled. If a person works, then he is one of the untouchables, wealth is good, therefore any means to get wealth is honest. Even deception and murder is okay. He also boasted to me that he himself possesses the art of hypnosis, which in their society is actively used along with reading mantras — magic spells. Many of his countrymen possess the art of hypnosis from birth. If a person has become your enemy, then you can send him a bad wish. What a funny medieval rule.
Workers who sit in rooms without work are called standby people. They are paid a minimum salary, food and accommodation are provided.
This resourceful comrade, before meeting me, has been living in Saudi Arabia for eight months. He spent all his days on social networks, having at the same time twenty virtual girlfriends of different ages and backgrounds, the main of whom was a thirty-six-year-old Filipina with two children.
The young man in all seriousness was going to marry her and move to live in the Philippines, where she would make his life comfortable. She would work on two jobs, and he would sit at home and watch TV. In the rosy dreams of the youngster, there was also a joint journey across the ocean and many beautiful mistresses, but his wife would not be jealous, but, on the contrary, she would praise him and shared with him her salary.
The dream was constantly disturbed by the “wrong” life views of the Filipina, who was jealous of this Indian “gentleman” to the other girlfriends. He honestly told her about his other girlfriends, in order to immediately accustom his future wife to his freedom. In this connection, the Filipina would block that Don Juan, and then a few days later unblocked and everything repeated, again and again, jealousy, tears, plans for the future, his declarations of love.
Once a Filipina promised to send a curse on him for hurting her:
— I wish you a wife worse than you. Then you’ll cry.
And she blocked him everywhere.
The next day, being blocked by the Filipina, quite by chance Tenardieu could not log into his account. Therefore, he created a new one and, accidentally seeing my profile, sent me a message. So we met.
We began to communicate. A few days later, he confessed his love to me. We corresponded and called back with my flattering acquaintance many times a day.
Sweet speeches flowed in my address by the river on the phone, and on the video camera, I saw a sly, almost villainous face.
Sweet flattery and declarations of love alternated with questions about my salary, the amount of my income.
Once he said that he wanted to marry me because I was hard-working, and he would stay at home and watch TV. He said that he wanted me to come to his home in India first, meet his family, we would get married. And from there we would have jointly applied for a student visa in the United States as spouses. I would get a visa for studies, and he would travel with me as my spouse, on a visa for spouses.
After that conversation, I decided to stop communicating with him and asked him not to bother me, explaining that I would never voluntarily provide a man with money, and also that I would never allow a man to use me for a visa or other material goods. After that, I stopped responding to his calls and messages.
My Indian friend threw me a real tantrum. I blocked his number, but he called me from other numbers. It seemed that he had at least a thousand numbers and accounts. A week later, I was tired of fighting him and we began to talk again.
We talked for six months. First, we talked occasionally, then more often, then every day. It was him who initiated the communication each time. The young man tried not to tell anything about himself, but mostly asked me questions, emotionally and sympathetically commenting on my answers. He seemed to be an absolute angel, who is always with me in any situation on my side. As it turned out, it was part of his psychological play.
There were months of our virtual communication with him. I kept away from my diplomat and more often refused to meet with him under various pretexts. Compared with the intelligent and predictable diplomat, the Indian acquaintance looked extremely mysterious.
Tenardieu still ran away from his supervisor when the supervisor called him to work. He would sit in a room with air conditioning, mainly engaged in correspondence with girls. He said that he had long ceased to communicate with girls for my sake alone. Now he confessed his love to me and constantly called me even during my work.
Still living in Saudi Arabia, he escaped from work, while receiving a stable minimum salary. Then the supervisor got tired of running after him. As a result, it was decided to dismiss Tenardieu.
Tenardieu was fired in about a month. During this time, he ate and slept every day with a calculator, anticipating a large last salary. He dreamed of buying one luxurious thing or another. But the vindictive supervisor counted the hours actually worked by the sloth and gave a tiny salary.
The young man was furious. The poor supervisor still does not know how much dirt has fallen on his name.
I explained to him:
— What did you want? You had to work.
My acquaintance, being sure that he was entitled to a large sum for lying in a room during months in a hot country, went with a scandal to the personnel department of his company.
He shook papers at shocked employees, threatened to go to the embassy and complain about the supervisor.
In the end, so he flew to India with nothing.
He returned to his homeland, and other stories began. I still lived in Moscow, went with friends to restaurants and exhibitions, from morning to evening I worked in my organization and in the evenings I visited the pool or met with my diplomat.
In Moscow, my closest friend was the daughter of the head of the administration of a large industrial city in South Korea. She worked as a diplomat in Moscow. One day when we were sitting in an expensive restaurant in the south-west of Moscow near our Moscow University, Tenardieu called me. At the end of our short conversation, I told him “kiss you, bye”. My friend asked me:
— Who called you just a while ago?
I told her that I befriended an Indian welder who was ten years younger than me.
She was shocked by my words.
— Are you crazy?
— Yes. I myself do not know what is happening to me. He does not leave me alone. He says he loves me and he is crying on the phone every time when I want to stop it. I have never seen a man crying.
— This is not love, Jana. He is cunning and he deceives you. His tears are fake tears! Don’t you see it? Marry your diplomat and that’s all. He is a good young man and loves you. Give me the phone number of that Indian guy, I’ll tell him something. After that, he won’t dare to call you.
— Do you think he is a bad guy? When we talk he seems to be very nice and good guy. Dear, not all poor people are bad and mean. Maybe he has a pure soul and brave heart.
— Jana, a Russian girl told me not to mess with Indian guys, they are all liars.
— Oh dear, in every nation there are bad people. Don’t judge them so strictly. If you give respect to someone, then you will be respected and loved. Isn’t it?
— Jana, before you many girls got into troubles with Indians, why don’t you believe me. Many girls who studied with Indians in the Russian medical universities, then married to them in India, but all returned home mentally broken. Some of them died in India and returned home in the coffins. Do you want to be the next one?
— I cannot believe that all are the same.
— You have to choose. You stay with us, or with him.
— How you can say that they are bad? What if you are all wrong, what if Indians are not liars, maybe those Russian girls were bad girls?
— They were good girls, who trusted those guys. They were in love. They left their country for their boyfriends and husbands from India. And those guys treated them very bad in India. There are zillions of such stories in Russia. I just don’t want you become one of those girls, whose life was broken by an Indian. The Indian cheater wanted to make you fool. Hahaha.
I did not give his phone number to her, but I promised her to block him and never communicate with him again.
My attempt to get rid of the welder was unsuccessful. After I blocked him everywhere, he terrorized me from other numbers and cried bitterly. I felt sorry for him. So our online relationship went on.
Then Tenardieu asked his parents for permission to marry me. Father told him:
— It’s up to you, of course. Are you sure you want to marry her?
— Yes. Sure. I can’t live without her.
After talking with his father, he proposed me, said that he could not live without me, that he loved me to bits. He had plans for a happy future for both of us. He continued to dream that we would live a little bit in India with his parents, and then from there, we go to the West. I would study, and he would stay at home. Every time after his words about the travel to the West, I stopped communicating with him. Then it all began again with promises not to speak on this topic again.
With each new quarrel, Tenardieu threatened me to commit suicide.
— I don’t need the life, — the young man told me. Here in India, people are not afraid of death or poverty. We are afraid of only one thing — an insult.
— Who insults you?
— I told everyone that I have a bride. I told everyone that you will come to me in India. We will get married. And then we will go to America.
— First, I repeated to you a million times that we won’t go to any America. Secondly, I did not ask you to tell anyone anything.
— Then I’ll kill myself.
One day he convinced me that he was really going to hang himself. A whole performance with several actors was played for me. And I believed it.
Sometimes you need to give a chance to events unfold under their own power.
When you date a man in reality, you can see all his flaws. When you meet a man on the Internet, in your imagination this man has no flaws. On the Internet, he seems to be perfect.
The Indian guy was waiting for me in India, doing repairs in the house, preparing for my arrival. On a video camera, I saw how his poor house was becoming more beautiful.
Neither my parents nor my friends knew about my plans to go to India to a virtual acquaintance. I did not know how to say this. I felt shame.
Only once did I share this story with my old friend, a professor from an American university. In the end she said: “The more you tell me about him, the more scared I am for you. There are too many red flags in this story. I’m pretty sure he’s a crook and invites you to India to rob. Please keep me posted. If you need anything in India, write to me. I know some big people there. It is better than going without warning anyone”.
I and the Indian guy met online in October 2015, and in early May 2016, I applied for a visa at the Indian visa center in Moscow and three days later I received a tourist visa. My future husband bought me a ticket at the end of May, and we planned a wedding and honeymoon trip to Shimla at the beginning of June.
I constantly felt that I was being cheated by him. Moreover, I felt in my heart that this deception was so huge, so dangerous for my life, that from the moment I received my visa I knew no peace. Obviously, he was a marriage swindler.
He broke the fates of innocent women and girls and did not consider himself guilty because he did not consider women as people; their fates for him were not the fates of people. He did not think about what would happen to their lost, deserted souls, with their deceived hearts, what would happen to their mothers and fathers who cherished their children like delicate flowers, protecting them from the slightest cold.
Two weeks before my departure to India, Tenardieu told me the following:
— Today my friend and I were in Hisar. I saw a beautiful girl and fell in love and immediately went to her father with my friend and asked for her hand. We talked with her father for almost two hours, and I have already been given consent. But my stupid friend suddenly told her father: “Thank you, but he already has a bride. She arrives soon from Moscow for the wedding.” The girl’s father was shocked, and I ran away from there without saying goodbye.
As a result, that evening I felt a huge relief and said to the young man that I would not go anywhere, and I wish him to marry the one he chose:
— It is very good. Thanks god. So many times I wanted to cancel this trip. This is the happy end. You marry that girl. I stay in Moscow. I wish you get married and live a hundred years together. Goodbye.
— No, don’t leave me! Forgive me, please come to India to me. I cannot live without you. I will never meet a girl like you, — told me Tenardieu on the phone.
— But you do not love me. You said you proposed the girl.
— I love you. I will commit suicide if you won’t come. My father will. Two people will die because of you.
— I don’t believe you. Leave me alone please.
He cried on the phone and screamed:
— My love, please, please, do not leave me. I cannot live without you, babe.
I disconnected the call. Every day he was sending me photographs of his face full of tears. It lasted one week.
And I agreed to come to India.
— What did you do all week?
— I sat alone in my room and cried all the time, — he answered in a trembling voice.
When we were reconciled, the young man asked me all the time:
— What will you bring me from Moscow?
— What shall I bring?
— Bring gifts to all my family, I need vodka, and I have a little niece, buy her a dress.
— What kind of gifts to buy?
— For my mom jewelry, for dad leather purse or expensive watches.
In our country, a man would not say so, asking to bring alcohol is a shame, it is considered indecent. But I wrote off everything on the peculiarities of the culture of his country or family traditions and therefore I decided to buy the gifts he asked for.
I remember how, before leaving, I went shopping in the center of Moscow and bought gifts to his family, which he ordered. I chose something beautiful for all: for his niece, I ordered an Italian dress, for his father — a watch, for mother — bracelets, etc.
My future husband would not let me rest and called me every five minutes. At first, I politely replied that I was busy, then disconnected the calls, and then turned off the phone.
I told him:
— Let’s cancel everything. Please explain to your parents that I was sick and missed the flight.
— Do not be afraid of anything. If you do not come, my father will commit suicide. He said so. And bear in mind that his death will be your guilt. Just trust me and do not be afraid of anything!!! Can you believe me?
I allowed the thought that the story with dad was a hoax. But since, earlier, in the conversations with this guy, accidentally I could give him hope for more, made me feel guilty. The idea that I could cause someone’s death was so terrible for me that I decided to come. After all, what was worth some trip compared to the whole human life?
— I will come because I feel myself responsible for the situation with your father. But if you deceive me, you will regret. You don’t know who you’re messing around with.
And then came the day specified in the airline ticket “Aeroflot”. I sat at the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport and waited for the invitation to board the plane. Tenardieu called me endlessly while demanding to show me the airport on the camera. But since I was sitting in a crowded room, I did not do this but only took a picture of myself against the background of signs and shops at the airport. Eventually, he did not believe me that I was really at the airport, and decided that I was deceiving him.
From the plane, I did not see where the border between the ordinary world and India lay.