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To Russia, With Love




Innaka was a beautiful woman. She lived with her parents in the Russian region of 

Saint Petersburg. It is a multi-culture city of Russia and was once the capital city of Russia.

 There was an Engineering college close to her home. There she met a guy named Rashid. Rashid was an Indian and quite a contrast to Innaka. Innaka was white like snow, while Rashid was dark. Rashid studied in the Engineering College as a foreign graduate. The contrast that he set in the surrounding made Innaka drawn to him. An Indian in love with a Russian- was not something that wasn’t heard! Rashid was an Engineer and Innaka’s parents didn’t object to their daughter’s choice. So when Rashid asked them the permission to marry her, they agreed. Now, it was left for Rashid to contact his parents in India and tell them that he was in love with a Russian girl and wanted to marry her. His parents might have feared that he would settle in Russia after marrying a Russian girl. Moreover, they had heard of stories how the girl’s family would confiscate the passport of Indians who went to live abroad. And that would make them settle abroad. Rashid however sent the girl’s picture and asked his father’s permission to marry her. His father agreed.
It was a long time after marriage. Innaka had a beautiful boy and Rashid named him Inayat which in Arabic meant “care”, the name sounding similar to Innaka. After that when his son was a few years old, Rashid decided to come to India with his wife and son.
 She saw the country, and felt strange. People all over the village and neighbouring villages flocked to see her. Innaka thought it weird, and she felt like she was an exotic animal species in this part of world. She would weep and ask her husband why there were so many people were around, just to see her? She could not eat the food that was cooked. It was too spicy for her. She tried to convey her message in sign language. She spoke and nobody could understand her. People thought she spoke in English. They asked her husband if she was a Muslim and knew the first kalima. She had to recite the verse of faith to the curious villagers, which she did flawlessly – “

لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله

*(la 'iilah 'iilaa allah muhamad rasul allah - There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah)”


The villagers were pleased. Ha, the boy had married a foreigner but had kept his faith!
She was surprised to see so much rice, goats, and cows. She felt the people must have ample resources to lead a luxurious life. Following some months of her stay in India, in some tiny unknown part, she gave birth to a beautiful daughter. She named her 

Atiya alHind, meaning Gift of India. 

She learned a bit of the local Hindustani dialect, while her little son mingled with the village boys. She would say, “bhaat khaiche”, when she ate rice. A proper sentence in Hindi language would be- “Main chawal kha rahi hoon”.  However, in those 18 months that she stayed in India, her little boy picked up the local dialect, turned brown and was indistinguishable from the native Indians. Her daughter was of 6 months when the family planned to return to Russia.
So, Atiya grew up in the cold region of Russia. She learnt Russian and knew very little about her birth-country. She would picturesque what her father and mother told her about India. She used to daydream about those big huts, tall grasses, cows and rice-paddy fields. She would dream of her Indian cousins, and the language they spoke. She wondered if she could understand them, or they could understand her. She was 16 when her parents, decided to visit India with her. Her brother had gone to India before he turned 18 to avoid conscription (to military service). Her father thought of permanently shifting to India.
The couple arrived with their beautiful daughter in India in the month of June. Her brother had already learnt the native language, and he spoke well like a native person. When Atiya and her mother arrived, it was now Inayat, who used to translate the language so that people could understand each other. It was funny to hear them speak. Gradually Atiya picked up some of the words. She acclimatized to the weather of india and didn’t much look like a foreigner. People however used to call her mother a Kashmiri woman. The beauty of India is the diversity in its population. An African can be compared to a South Indian, a European to a Kashmiri, and the Chinese/Japanese to a Northeastern Indian. An average Indian from North India would fit in any part of the world, and blend in the next generation with the local population.
Hassan was a distant cousin of Inayat, and when he heard that his Russian Uncle and aunt had come to their village, from his sister, he decided to see them. He had just turned nineteen had had qualified in the medical entrance examination two years ago, and his life was taking a new start in the medical college. During the ward-duty, he had met an intern who had done MBBS from Russia. The only sentence he thought he could learn properly in Russian was- “Yah liblu tebya”.
The natives didn’t know what she spoke was Russian and not English. It was only when Hassan came, that he realized that they knew nothing of English. Their English was very poor. And unfortunately the only sentence he knew in Russian was,

Yah liblu tebya.

 And he couldn’t flaunt that knowledge before everybody.  He had told his sister that he knew Russian, and had told her about Yah liblu tebya, but hadn’t told her the meaning. 
So, when Hassan met his Russian aunt and cousin, he spoke in English. But they were confused and didn’t get a word. Finally he realized it would take time for him to learn Russian or for them to learn the native language. His sister spoke, “My brother knows Russian. He kept saying “Yah liblu tebya” all the way, as if he was rehearsing for a speech.”
 Hassan hushed her to keep quiet. He went red and he could see Atiya going red too. To change the topic, Hassan asked what she had read. She told about the story of the fox, who couldn’t reach the grapes, and so said, that they were sour. She was reading it in Hindi. And she couldn’t pronounce the words properly. Rather it was difficult for her to pronounce “t”. 

“Angoor khatte hain (अंगूर खट्टे है),” meaning grapes are sour, she would say, “Angoor त्ते हैं”. 

He told her "khatte" means "sour", and she diligently took a pencil and wrote it on her text-book. Then he asked her about Russian writers.  She told him about Anton Chekov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He realised he had been pronouncing Chekov wrong all the time. Then he told her about Tolstoy. She was very pleased to hear about him.
To establish a communication with his cousin, Hassan during his stay in the village, downloaded from the local café a lot of Romantic Russian movies with English subtitles. He saw 

The Housekeeper, Wife Available, Poor Liz, Vanka, The year of the Golden Fish, 

and many more, till his head was filled with Russian words. He realised that the concept of love, romance and wooing was similar across all borders and though the language and the country may change, but the basic emotions and instincts remains the same. This is the instinct to exist collectively as a human species. He downloaded YouTube videos to learn Russian. After some months he was able to read, write and speak some good bit of Russian. Pity, the internet in the village was too slow to use the google translator, the data pack was also not cheap, and the mobile a 2G one! Well that was before the launch of Reliance Jio, and we can assure our readers that it was no fault of Hassan if he did his best to know Russia and its language and culture.

When he met Atiya next time, he would use

 “Spasibo” and “do-svidaniya”

 instead of “thank you” and “good bye”, respectively. She was amazed at his zeal for learning a new language, which was unknown to that place. They communicated in broken English, and his native language, and a bit of Russian. It was all a mixture of languages, but the emotions to be revealed was conveyed without any obstruction to the flow in the language. They would go out in the fields with her brother and he would usually translate to her most of the time. It was not unusual for Hassan to fall in love with Russia.
It was the coming of winter, and winters were harsh in Russia. Innaka and her children were quite cool with the weather and they loved the cold wind blowing as they felt the heat of the fire on their bare hands. It would have been impossible to go outside without gloves in Russia. But that wasn’t so here in India. Hassan asked Atiya what he heard was true – that boiling water when poured from a kettle would immediately turn into ice, before touching the ground. Atiya laughed. Her laughter resembled the tinkling of bells, and Hassan was mesmerized with it. She told him – it happened in Siberia, and they lived very far from that place. Atiya loved the winter of India. She saw numerous migratory birds. She would name them and say, some of them were seen in her country also.
The intimacy and attachment between Hassan and Atiya grew to a very strong level. When the winter was over, Innaka, Rashid and Atiya had to leave for Russia. Summers were hot in India. Innaka and her two children had however learnt to love India.
They would go to Jayprakash Narayan Airport in Patna, and travel from there to Delhi. Then they would travel to Russia. Hassan was studying in Patna Medical College, and when they came there, he went to meet Atiya at the airport.
They talked, and Hassan was happy to know it would be a short stay in Russia for them. They would return to India soon.
He looked into Atiya’s eyes, searching into her soul. “Ya liblu tebya”, he finally had the courage to whisper to her. She looked bewildered. They had to go through security check up. She turned back and whispered to him,

 “मैं तुमसे प्यार करती   - *(Main tumse pyar karti – I love you).”

 and quickly went to her waiting parents. She had found all the more reasons to love India.
He shouted in joy,

 “Любите вас, Россия. Отдайте мою любовь Росси. До cвндания. – *(Love you, Russia. Give my love to Russia. Good bye).”



To Russia, With Love Reviewed by Polymath on 12:32 am Rating: 5

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