“We returned to Norilsk by plane along the route Abakan – Krasnoyarsk – Turuhansk – Norilsk. We got off in Krasnoyarsk, and when boarding back, it suddenly turned out that my grandma didn’t know that I already needed a child’s ticket. My despair knew no bounds! We walked along the airfield away from the airliner departing for Norilsk, and I scolded her, saying, how could she forget that over the summer I became a completely adult person and she was supposed to purchase travel documents for me. Granny was distressed, but for a different reason. She literally stunned me by admitting that she didn’t have money with her for my ticket! I did not expect such a blow of fate and burst into tears: I had to spend the rest of my life in a gray, nondescript airport… I offered her to go to Norilsk on foot, but she did not agree… Without delay, my grandmother was re-registered for the next flight in a day, but they refused to let me on board, even if I fly on her lap. We waited at the airport for more than a day, and when the flight to Norilsk was announced, she hurried to the first Norilsk resident and asked him for a loan, starting to explain the situation, pointing her finger at me and showing him her ticket. The man didn’t even look at it, got into his pocket and, counting out the money, hurried to the line at the counter… Then, together with her, we found him in the city and repaid the debt.
And another incident happened to me a couple of years later at the Norilsk airport, where I, having met my classmate in the waiting room, argued with him about the runway length. I said it was a kilometer, he insisted it was much less. There was no one to resolve the dispute, and without thinking twice, we decided to measure the field adjacent to the airport terminal… The runway was laid with slabs with black bitumen joints, therefore, having determined the length of the slab in steps, it remained to count their number on the runway. We reached the end of the concrete road and started counting down… We both lost, because its length turned out to be more than three kilometers! There and back, with stops and discussions, it was about an hour and a half… The flight was delayed because of us, and the police were involved in the search… Fortunately, our parents had no time left to tell us off, and we flew away safely, avoiding punishment”.
Vladimir Gulyaev Vovka’s Stories:
“…The North met them unfriendly. Immediately, leaving the plane, Vovka felt with his nose and cheeks that this was a serious matter – the North, its prickly, piercing wind made its way everywhere, it stung and did not allow him to open his eyes, pushed with sharp gusts and knocked him down, trying to knock him to the ground, but Vovka walked, clutching his father’s hand with both hands. The first tens of meters in the North from the plane to the airport terminal building were difficult, but they were still covered, and this was his first victory. It was warm and cozy inside the small station, and only the howling snowstorm reminded us that it was bitterly cold outside. All the seats on the benches were taken, passengers also sat on their bundles and suitcases near the wall. The father and the men went to find out the bus schedule to Norilsk, Slavka dozed on his suitcase, and Vovka decided to do “reconnaissance” and find out where everything was. His nose felt delicious smells coming from somewhere in the far corner of the hall, and his feet moved in that direction. It was a buffet, somewhat reminiscent of their village tea room, only smaller in size. Vovka squeezed through to the glass display case, and his eyes ran in different directions, and his mouth opened from a large number of different goodies. He didn’t remember how long he stood in this silent scene, pressing his nose to the glass and looking at a large ruddy gingerbread with some letters and drawings, covered in white glaze: gingerbread for him was everything! The line passed him, and he stood and swallowed his saliva. He woke up to someone shaking his shoulder. It was his mother:
– Vovka, why are you standing here? We’re looking for you.
– Mom, I want that big gingerbread!!!
– Let’s go get money from father and then buy it.
– It’s the last one. Someone will take it!
– No one will take it, let’s go.
– Tell the seller to keep it for me! Tell!
Someone in line said:
– Madam! Is this Tula gingerbread that you have on display the last one or are there more of them?
“The last one,” answered the seller.
Vovka shuddered all over when he heard this, and said loudly to his mother:
– I told you that they will take it away! I told you!
“Give it to me,” said the guy who was standing first, he took the gingerbread and turned to Vovka. – Take it, guy! Otherwise, someone will really take it!
“Thanks a lot!” said Vovka, took the treasured gingerbread and went to his family. From behind, the mother thanked the uncle:
– Thank you! You know, he loves these gingerbread cookies so much, he’ll never pass them by! I’ll bring you the money now!
– No need, don’t worry about the money. This is from the heart! Let him eat, little guy, for good health!
Soon they announced boarding for buses, and, running through the thickness of the snowstorm, their entire village group boarded one of them, filling almost half of it. The bus was rocking from the stormy gusts of wind, but the passengers, being warm, had already relaxed and some dozed off to the monotonous noise of the engine and the howling of the blizzard… Lights appeared in the driver’s window ahead, a lot of lights! The driver said, apparently for them, who were coming here for the first time, that they were approaching the city of Norilsk”.
In the History Spot’s previous publication, we talked about polar childhood.
Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive