We were walking peacefully, Gena, my dear brother, was then with us. (Photo of the picture is above, and to the right is the photo of Gena and Janko on the background is seen the Michael’s Gate.)
All of a sudden Gena disappeared. We looked around as if it happened a miracle.
We started worrying and worrying. But he is an adult of 68 y.o. and decided to wait.
Next day he came to the village where we stayed.
“Where have you been, brother?” I asked anxiously.
He was silent for a long time, and then when we remained alone with him, he confessed:
“I met my first love, a Ukrainian girl, at the “Michael’s Gate cafe”, I could not believe my eyes. Oksana was wearing a neat skirt and a blue and white-striped linen blouse, looked extremely beautiful in the cafe shining light, that girl whom I intended to marry but instead married the other one when I was young. She was a waitress here, saw me and asked:”Gena! What is it?”
I tried to tell her but choked over the words.
I was emotionally shocked. Oksana, dear Oksana, how many years had passed!
“Don’t say anything now, Gena”, she said quietly. “My shift is over, let’s go to my room. I live nearby and celebrate our meeting.” She kissed me, put her hands on mine.
For a moment we stayed like that, our faces only inch or two apart. It was impossible to tell her that she represented all the things they’d lost in their lives, wrong partners in marriages, unhappy previous relationships and so on, and so on.
She represented peace, homeland, his youth, his whole life even, in a way nobody else ever had.
My head turned uncertainly as I kissed her throat but she did not resist.
We hurried to her room. We kissed each other all over, and I felt her tense and saw her eyes fill with tears.
Oksana gave a little moan, after all the wasted years, crucified by her longing for me. “Oh,Gena”, she whispered again…
She turned a lost face towards me. Love, I decided, was a sort of self-immolation that left you dizzy,but, with her in my arms, again, I didn’t care.
There had been many times in recent years when there’d been a loneliness it seemed impossible to endure, but suddenly, now I felt I was no longer on my own. We kissed with painful intensity and then she was crying, hard sobs with taut lips, and clenched teeth, small and lost like a child, as if she were putty in my hands…”
“Oh, that was a case”, I said with compassion. “I remember that was Oksana from Ternopol, isn’t she?”
“Yes”, Gena answered.