July 2019 and nothing suggested that a simple call was going to take me from the south of Spain to the other end of Europe, to Kiev, and even less that I was going to end up sharing the experience on that website that my brother showed me to explain the reason for that trip.
The wife of a childhood friend of his had just had their second daughter. This couple who had met through that website and had been encouraging him to try after a very difficult divorce from which sometimes, as a sister, I thought he would never recover. After a while in front of the computer fooling around and looking at photos and without much further ado, he snapped at me, “Come with me, we’ll have a good time” and almost without realizing, on August 2nd we were landing at the Kiev airport. The adventure was about to begin.
In Borispil a driver was waiting for us and took us to an apartment in the city centre. Now I recognize that my initial fears were quickly fading when I saw that everything was perfectly organized by my brother (?).Obviously not and the answer visited us very soon, it was Luda, the director of this agency. She explained the dynamics of dating, told us things about those women my brother had chosen and showed us photos of others. Who was going to tell us that my sister-in-law would be among them? We will come back to that later. The day of our arrival ended right there.
First day of dating and nerves.
The plan was to go sightseeing while my brother, always accompanied by Luda, met girls in a cafeteria in front of the Natural History Museum. I had left them there, kept walking to to the Grand Theatre in Kiev and took the inevitable selfie with the statue of Taras Shevchenko. I wandered aimlessly through the downtown streets for several hours through the captivating beauty of an architecture with Soviet reminiscences. Self-absorbed, for some reason I began to have the suspicion that this “Prague of the East” had some kind of gift in store for us. Let’s call it feminine intuition or that I needed to believe that it was reasonable that my brother in the company of a stranger working on his future. Staring off into space, I came to the Podol neighborhood, to a restaurant with an unpronounceable name. To my surprise, I found my brother relaxed, laughing with Luda and, without waiting for me to sit down, he told me that he had not yet met the woman of his life, but that he had had a great time. That afternoon I went to the apartment to rest until Luda gave me my brother back for a while, since in an hour they had agreed to have dinner and plan the next day.
Who was going to tell us that this was changing his life?
Between laughs and some pause on my part to find a way to say something in English, Luda told anecdotes while my brother was writing the names of the girls he wanted to meet, when suddenly he pronounced one of the few words he had learned in Russian, “vsió”(bcë!), that is, “”. He recited the names of the lucky ones, ending with a Svetlana and a sonorous, “”. Luda returned to professional mode, started calling to make dates, and was back at the table in a few minutes. Everything was arranged. They would start with the last one he had selected, a nurse who could meet for tea around 11, since she worked in a hospital downtown.
We hardly slept that night gossiping about dates and expectations. We got to the cafeteria a little earlier for breakfast and found that Luda was already sitting down, having some tea and taking notes. Some small talk and the first girl showed up, Svetlana. What to say? This part is on my brother. With a respectful gesture, he addressed Luda by name and patronymic and the introductions began. It wasn’t long before my brother, taking advantage of the fact that my awful Spanish accent in English had caught the attention from Sveta, wrote to Luda on a napkin “cancel the rest of the dates”. She excused herself to go to the toilet and when she returned she whispered “done!” What was happening? The appointment was dragging on beyond its scheduled time.
A few minutes before 1:00 p.m., Sveta, addressing my brother, told us that she had to leave and go to work, since it would take her about 5 minutes to arrive. Then my brother asked if he could walk with her and she replied a not so simple “da!” and something else that we couldn`t understand. Luda told me with a look that I should stay. International language, I suppose.After waiting for more than an hour, I was beginning to worry when my brother came in. Smiling nervously at him, I asked him where she had been, what had happened. Then, he smiled me back in a misterious way, saying “I think Sveta was late for work”.
(To be continued)