Moscow citizen Semen Leontyev married his beloved one being 84, after having waited for her for 56 years. He could have died two times: first time – during Great Patriotic War (he was wounded in his head) and second time, being 96, of stroke. He is sure of being rescued by love.
Now he considers this was stupid of him miss Gyuli. The whole their life, he says, could have been so happy. “She was so beautiful, when I met her,” - he says, showing an old photograph of an oriental beauty in skull-cap.
By that time, 27-year-old Semen was a property-man in Moscow Academician Arts Theatre. Gyuli became his aid. She was only 14 years old. He fell in love with her, as he met her. He literally went crazy with love.
The girl’s family was suffering privations. Semen knew it. He understood that the girl did not eat enough and asked the theatre leadership to sent Gyuli to a rest home to refresh herself. In the rest home Gyuli met some economist and married him. It was a real tragedy for Semen. He had thought she was too young to get married!
Afterwards, he entered workers’ faculty, then architecture institute. While Gyuli was invited to Moscow Mobile Opera Theatre as a painter.
Gyuli married not for love. Her family was poor, so her parents wanted their daughter to organize her private life as soon as possible. She married economist Leschinsky, who was and old friend of then-Communist Party secretary, Lazar Koganovich. The couple started to visit him in his dacha very often. Koganovich showed his sympathy with Gyuli and even tried to court her. One day, Gyuli returned home too early and found her husband with a mistress. She could not forgive her husband and left him. Leschinsky wanted to return her, even menacing with Stalin camp.
Soon, Gyuli married a shipmaster and moved to the city of Leningrad, where she started to work in Hermitage.
Autumn 1941, when German troops approached to the city, and Gyuli was preparing museum pictures for evacuation, she was arrested by NKVD (People’s Committee of Internal Affairs, later KGB). She was accused of espionage in favour of Japan. After some interrogations, she was sent to the camp. The same happened to her husband. At that time, Gyuli was pregnant. Her son, who was born in the camp died of malnutrition being only one year old. Her husband disappeared somewhere in the camp. While she spent there 16 years. After rehabilitation Gyuli was permitted to see her file: there was an information note against her with Lazar Kaganovich’s visa.
Semen knew about his beloved one arrest from her mother. By the time, he was married and had two sons. Though he often thought about Gyuli.
His wife Nina died when Semen was 78. For two years, he longed for his late wife. And when his pain abated, he decided to find Gyuli. He found her in Leningrad. Gyuli invited him to her flat.
Of course, she was no more that black-haired girl, but an aged women, though she still was beautiful. She was the woman Semen has dreamed of for the whole his life. That day, Semen asked Gyuli to marry him.
They have lived together 12 years. Gyuli died, after having celebrated her 86th birthday. Her husband was 98. At that day, their wall clock stopped. Gyuli wanted to wind it up: she climbed on a chair and fell.
The old woman asked to bring her water and go to bed. At night, Semen woke up: he felt that his wife was not breathing. He called ambulance. Doctors came only at 7:00 a.m. and after having examined the patient they said Gyuli had died 15 minutes before their arrival.
In Semen’s room, there are at least two dozens of Gyuli’s photographs and portraits. Every day, Semen prays to the icon Gyuli has painted. Semen believes that the late people souls do not go to heaven just after their death, but stay near their beloved ones, until they can join to them.
Translated by Vera Solovieva