A friend of mine, Sarah, has been doing humanitarian work in the Ukraine for the past couple of years, and
she's working with a young Ukrainian with cerebral palsy named Ihor. Thanks to her translating our letters, Ihor and I started
corresponding via e-mail earlier this year. I have enjoyed getting acquainted with him and learning about what life is like
for disabled Ukrainians.
Ihor is a remarkable person because even though disabled individuals in Ukraine aren't encouraged
to obtain an education and have very few amenities, he recently earned a "red" diploma (for making straight A's) in Ukrainian
Literature. The above picture of Ihor was taken on his graduation day from the Kiev University. He has started graduate school.
Like myself, he's unable to write with his hands, but he writes by holding a pencil in his mouth, and he types in the same
manner with a stick in his mouth.
I was honored when Ihor allowed me to read a story that he had written, and he has
graciously given me permission to share it with you through this website. (My friend, Sarah, also translated this story
for me.) He said that it would tell me more about him than he could himself, and it did help me to understand more about his
feelings and beliefs. I believe you will enjoy this "fairy tale" or "fable" and be impressed by Ihor's writing and strong
morals as I was.
* * * * * *
Dedicated to S. Leonchuk
Somewhere far away in the city of Evenshev once
there lived a girl. But she wasn't that Cinderella
we are told in the fairytale. First of
all: she lived with her own mother. Second of
all: she was not a chambermaid;
on the contrary,
it was impossible to find her at home. She was
either visiting someone, or strolling around, or
with her own matters. "So! What kind of a
Cinderella is that?" you ask.
--Her soul,--I will answer. Yes! Underneath
mask of indifference a person was hiding, a person
who was ready to sacrifice herself for others.
just needed to be awakened. It slept.
And the girl understood this. And who could have
thought that in a single moment
her family's life
and her's too would change. It was like this: she
heard about some palace that was located at the
edge of a forest. But most important was what they
said about the master of this palace: that He
"Who is He? How does He do it?"--
these questions did not give the family any peace.
"We'll go see," offered the
agreed, but they were a little afraid. But
curiosity got the upper hand. And to tell the
there was a second motive: above their
home terrible stormclouds gathered. They simply
appeared and did not want to
The day comes, the day when a person needs to
fundamentally change his life. A person is so
that he always must make decisions that
will influence his future life. Oh, how difficult
it is to be placed before
such a choice! But
thanks to such situations a person remains a
person. The most important thing is not to make a
mistake! A mistake, as a rule, costs a lot. This
fairytale is becoming not a fairytale but rather a
morals. It is a good thing that only one
person will read it. But let's return to our
Cinderella. Where did we leave
her? Ah...she is
going with her family to the home of the Master.
What waits for them? No one knows except the
The family gets closer to the palace, their hearts
are all racing; it seems that their hearts will
out of their chests. But they continued
on. They got to the door on which was written:
"Knock and the door shall be
opened unto you."
"What is this strange message?" they asked one
another. And then they thought: "It is true that
in order to have any door open it is necessary to
knock first, but why write about that?" None of
Time passed, and they needed to
do something. And at last they decided to knock.
The doors immediately opened as if
they had been
waiting for them. The family was led into the
"The Master will appear presently,"
said a servant,
smiling. The guests were led by a hall into which
they glanced: probably no words have been thought
up to describe that hall. Everything was made of
gold, and what was most interesting--there was no
desire to steal
it. The ceiling was high, so high
that when you looked up your head spinned. There
was no dust--everything was spotless.
"Who can this Master be? Who is the owner of this
palace?" These questions haunted our guests. The
told them about the Master, and with each
story the family wanted all the more to see the
Master himself. When the
wish was more than they
could bear, the Master himself appeared. It was an
indescribable meeting; even the palace
compete with the beauty of the Master. His clothes
were the whitest of whites, He Himself was
And most importantly his eyes were
kinder than kind; not even any of the old servants
could forget those eyes. Love
radiated from them.
Maybe our Cinderella had never seen such eyes; yes,
she was searching for love and it seemed to
that she had found it. But in these eyes she felt
infinitely more love than in the eyes of that
whom she had placed her hopes. Whoever
has experienced such a meeting will never forget it.
"I will be very glad
if you will stay on to live
with me," with love offered the Master. And the
love with which He spoke won out.
what is happening beyond those doors," said
the Master, seeing that a few of them were wavering.
the door a crack. She was
terrified: A huge storm had risen, their house was
being destroyed, strong winds were ripping
at the roots. And people...they were shoving each
other just to crawl up on any small hill, thinking
in that way they could run from the storm, but
the tempest got to them and took people in its
circles, hurling them
into a bog from which there
was no escape. And inside the palace it was quiet
"Will it be like
this forever? Is there really no
exit from that bog?" asked Cinderella, not
"Yes! People chose
that themselves," painfully
answered the Master. "I offered them better,
but...There is a way out--to hide in my palace.
They see it, but they do not want to come here. It
works out that being Saved is closeby, and it would
be so simple...And
I promise you a much better
life, if you will stay. There are problems here,
but I will be nearby."
stay!" said Cinderella confidentally.
"And we will stay, too," confirmed the entire
family. And so everyone stayed
to live in the
In honor of this event the Master held a big feast
at which all of the residents of
the palace where
happy and celebrated.
Time went by...Our Cinderella spent all of her time
closeby the Master.
But once he said, "It is time
for you to work in one of My rooms."
"With pleasure! Which one will You send me
"I will send you to unordinary people. To people
who need the love that is inside you. It is
for you to understand them, but you shall
try. I will tell you about one of them: he
considers himself to be an Ugly
Duckling. This is
a unique person. How much I have suffered with
him! But I love him! Because of his physical
he has suffered so: he wants to do one
thing, but does something entirely different. And
he often hates himself. He
wants to be like
everyone else, but he is not able to do it. People
are impressed by him, but no one wants to tie
his or her life with his. He wants to be needed by
someone, but no one needs him. He wants to love,
is no Nastia (a female name) like in the
fairytale "Alena's flower." He wants to be
special, but all the time he is
reminded that he is
the same as everyone, even though every person is
an individual. You will see much in him that
contradictory, but do not be quick to judge, and
try to understand, as I understand, because no one
Myself has the power to understand a
person. You both are simply able to love without
greed. People will use you,
but don't get
discouraged, because your great reward will come
"But doesn't he get offended at You?"
question from Cinderella.
"No! He understands that, if he doesn't have what
he wants yet, it means
that it is My will or the
time simply hasn't come. Everything that he wants--
it is simply human. And it is no one's
everyone wants simple human happiness. That's
being human. In short, you will see for yourself."
Cinderella has already been going to that room
for a long time. Most importantly, she does this
out of love. Misunderstandings
occur, but "LOVE
Any fairytale must have a fairytale ending. And
why a fairytale ending? Because
any fairytale can
become a reality and the end of this fairytale,
which looks more like a saga, will be the same as
the endings of these two fairytales. But in our
particular saga the ending is really true.
live with the Master and at a ball
will meet a handsome prince. They will live until
the Master calls them to his
And, because of all of his suffering, the Master
will turn the Ugly duckling into a white swan, and
the swan will soar above his palace; everyone will
fall in love with its beauty. And the swan will
fly to the
kingdom of its Master.
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