I am looking at the large by size portrait of the People’s Artist of the USSR Nicolay Eremenko. His handsome, masculine face attracts attention of all the people, who gathered in one of the comfortable galleries in the library. The black and white picture is full of light. Light excites vision centers, is full of magnetism that is hard to resist. Classical music in live piano performance tunes high feelings. I catch myself at the feeling of sadness, the one that always goes with a lucid smile. The smile wanders around the chamber hall full of avant-garde paintings of young artists. The white soft armchairs are so comfortable. I can hear the prima soprano of the State Musical Theatre Natalya Gayda singing in tune with the melody. I think it is Grieg… I like to indulge myself in some mysticism — people do not die, but travel to another dimension; they are watching us from there, sometimes even help us, if we need them. Not long ago I couldn’t resist temptation to watch Brad Silberling’s drama City Of Angels once again. I might have been inspired by it.
This evening the co-authors of my older colleague Leonid Ekel, who humbly calls himself a compiler, poets, writers, critics, and actors as well as people close to Eremenko and his family gathered together in order to rejoice to the newly-published book. From his relatives there was only his elder sister Valentina, from his family only his wife, the People’s Artist Galina Orlova alone. It is because her son, Russian movie actor Nicolay Eremenko-junior passed away eleven months after his father’s demise.
It is a big event for the cultural life of the country, when a book is published from the restored by the publishing house “Mastatskaya Litaratura” (Fiction Literature) series LFB. This book is about really bright personality, symbolizing the whole epoch, indeed. His demise concurred with the end of the XX century. It happened on the fourth of July, year 2000. One of the newspapers of that time said, “The XX century is over — Nicolay Eremenko passed away.”
I go back to past. My memory gives signals: you also have your own recollections of this beautiful person.
Year 1989. What impressed me at that time, being a consultant for the Theatre People Union, meeting with the union director? Eremenko has been its director for 15 years.
He was all “overly”… In good sense, of course. He was overly attentive to the few in number female junior employees — he used to talk to us without any sign of formal interest that is typical about busy official. Nicolay Nicolayevich was capable of being informal, accessible. What also impressed me very much was that he could listen to us and hear what we were saying. He saw human being in every employee, who plays not only social and thus respectable role, but also spiritual. That part of our human being that is impossible to file to the personal file, plans, reports. He saw “equal” in every custodian, being a warm-hearted person, which distinguishes every person of high culture.
I browse the pages of the book. I see lots of pictures… Playing roles and in real life… Beautiful faces… of his wife, son, actor-friends… I glance on the lines, recited at the presentation by their author, playwright Alexey Dudarev:
— Eremenko had one more peculiarity, a skill but not a skill, more of a talent — to love. In spite of everything. Whatever talks were made, whatever topics and problems were touched, the conversation inevitably would end up with “my Galina and Kolya”… Nicolay Nicolayevich loved to be recognized in public, to be the center of attention both in social and artistic life, to be given various tasks, to be awarded, to be in focus of a camera wearing general’s uniform, to take a drink with his friends and talk about different things, to host guests. He loved many other things as well… However, I can’t think of the things that he really disliked. I think that he did not have a deep, fundamental, devastating dislike for anything at all.
A priori, there are such charismatic, like Eremenko-senior, people, marked by some special dignity and splendor. And we are eager to idolize them, putting ‘white clothes’ of beautiful metaphors on them. People correspond to them in big or small respect. Eremenko is definitely ‘bigger’…
Idealist-fighter, knight, person with a screaming consciousness, person of honor, person from the future, monolith with tender and affectionate heart, person-celebration, fatherly figure, man of integrity… Many, very many words like this in the book… They have volume, energy, touching to the heart. One strives to become better, live purely, lucidly, in accordance with the bible commandments… And feel a soft touch of one’s guarding angel.
The presentation of the book Nicolay Eremenko. Light is not gone… was a great success. The evening consecrated to the memory of a great Artist and a great Human Being, World War II veteran, outstanding community leader. The presentation host was the honor artist of the Republic of Belarus, Victor Manayev. He had a chance to see the artistic heyday of Eremenko, took part in the production of Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser with him.
The first word was given to the beloved woman of Nicolay Eremenko — Galina Orlova. And as she was speaking, I (in the context of my mystical revelations) for a moment felt that her husband ‘Erema’ was standing by her side.
You think it’s mysticism? Not at all, it is a mere presence effect, generated by memory and love.