Alex and Friends
by B. Z. Niditch
In a room of icons and Russian portraits from Rasputin to Putin is my good friend Sasha. He is from Leningrad and still has a siege mentality. Several nervous breakdowns have added to his literary credit as a poet. He sits down for tea here in the Big Apple.
His wife Vera, from the Bolshoi, passed away here in the new world, her enemies claim, after seeing so much food in a Manhattan supermarket. She had many enemies and lovers, but Sasha was beyond jealousy after a stint in a gulag and the time he spent after the war translating and writing children’s verses.
He had an eidetic memory and eccentric ways. He could sing all the parts in Boris, knew all the spy histories on both sides of the hot and cold wars, was a marvelous chef and even corresponded with Julia Child. He was a philatelist and film buff, especially of Marlene Dietrich’s movies.
In Central Park, while bird-feeding, Sasha met Dr. Kit, a visitor to the city. Dr. Kit wore a Texan hat and had a black and white cat named Tish. Dr. Kit was attending a therapists’ convention in town. She became intrigued with Sasha and wrote his biography after their ménage and marriage. In therapy, Sasha revealed to the doctor “Maya’, a woman in his subconscious who had kept him alive in the camps and whom he claimed he had seen on the subway.
Kit and Sasha were often seen searching for Maya. They enlisted the help of a private eye who located the woman: she was a professor of religious studies who taught Tolstoy, Shestov and Berdyaev. Kit audited her class and spoke to Maya in Russian and English.
Maya’s father Alex had been in the same camp at the same time as she because of his “religious habit of glossolalia or speaking as an Old Believer in other, unknown tongues.” Maya had written her thesis on her late father. Dr. Kit spent many sessions with Sasha and Maya and knew there was some transference between these three and Maya’s father.
Maya and Sasha confessed under hypnosis they still communicate with Alex. “It must be in another world,” Sasha chuckled, and then he had another of his fearful breakdowns. Now Maya and Kit take good care of Sasha, who is a frequent guest at university psychology lecture series and on international television talk shows.
Copyright © 2012 by B. Z. Niditch