My older sister believed that our father was the Second Man in the country after Nikita Khrushchev, who is known in the West as the angry Communist President with the shoe. In our eyes, our father was the greatest man. Every time he took us to his work, we were greeted like little duchesses, walking around the palace with hundreds of mirrors and rugs, where thousands of Soviet children were given a chance by the government to develop their artistic gifts.
Our young and handsome father became a President of this palace when he was just thirty. The Palace used to be a private residence of one of the wealthiest families in Russia before the Great October Revolution of the 1917.
Kharitonov lost his privileges even before the revolution, because he had more money than the tsar and wanted to cover the roof of his palace with real gold, but the Tsar Alexander 1 prohibited him from doing it because only the Tsar could do that. The Palace had an English garden with pretentiously trimmed bushes, a pond with an arched bridge and a gazebo, and beautiful white swans.
It was hard to imagine our father to be lower than Khrushchev after watching him being greeted by his bowing staff or knowing that he goes to France or Australia, while nobody else travels abroad.
“If we give up our condo,” – my father started a conversation with us over dinner – “I will get a job in Moscow and a new apartment.”
The coldness of the unknown chilled our excitement about living in the capital of Russia.
“How about our friends? School?”
“Girls, this is a rare chance for all of us.”
Our mother tried to explain to us the meaning behind the move, but I cried. I couldn’t imagine myself away from my childhood friend Ninka. It was a love-hate friendship; we fought and sometimes didn’t talk to each other for months, but we couldn’t live without each other. On the other hand, I knew that, in the new place, I would not have to share a room with my sister. This dilemma was hard to resolve.