Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Ninety-Five
15th December 1968
Nella and Nan had promised to moderate their intake of sweets this year. Nan wasn’t the issue. Instead, it was Nella who had made herself sick year after year when they had gone to the annual Christmas market in the Alexander Marketplace. So much so that when Nan had come along Kiki had been afraid that she would end up having to contend with two sick little girls. Just in case, Kiki was keeping Nella under tight rein as they worked their way down the lines of stalls.
This year they were joined by a larger than usual crowd of friends and family. Zella and Yuri, who were there recording everything for the ARD news that would probably air that night. Freddy and Suga had decided that Mirai was old enough to come. Even Kiki had to admit that it was delightful to see her niece’s reaction to the Marketplace as it was done up for the holidays. Finally, Louis Junior and Anya had tagged along. Kiki found it funny that Louis and Zella were spending the afternoon pretending that they didn’t know each other, as if they were fooling anyone. Anya had been invited because her entire family was in Moscow and Kiki felt that she shouldn’t be alone this time of the year.
That was why Kiki found herself chatting in Russian with Anya as they followed Nella and Nan.
“I can’t believe I asked Doctor Holz why he wanted to go out for a drink to celebrate” Kiki said, “Why else would he have come to Berlin other than to tell me that my Doctorate had been conferred?”
“You have got be the most Russian German woman I know” Anya replied, “Every silver lining is attached to a storm cloud that will wash everything away.”
“I am not like that” Kiki said. This wasn’t the first time that Kiki had been called something like that. She had been referred to as Germany’s Russian Princess for years and she had never liked it.
“Here you are with the highest academic degree possible, magna cum laude no less, and you were so wrapped up in being depressed and miserable that you didn’t even recognize it when your Doctorial Advisor told you” Anya said.
Kiki started to say that it might have been summa cum laude except she was terrible as a public speaker but thought better of it because that would just confirm what Anya was saying.
Fortunately, she was saved by Freddy. Which was the first time that had ever happened. Earlier in the day on the car ride to the Marketplace he had said that he could no longer call Kiki by the nickname Whippet, from now on it was Doctor Whippet. And she contemplated opening the car door and shoving him out into traffic. Not that she wanted to see him killed, just hurt really bad. Freddy having both his legs in plaster casts for the next eight weeks or so was a delightful thought. Suga had told Freddy to stop acting like a child and he had, for a few minutes anyway. Their father had told her that Freddy was so serious most of the time these days and that poking fun at his little sister was a bit of an escape for him. So, Kiki tolerated it for now.
“Take a look Kiki” Freddy said handing her a purple and yellow striped knit hat and matching scarf. “Like when we were children.”
“Thank you” Kiki said, and then noticing that Yuri was taping this replied. “Except when we were children you would have snuck up behind me, put it over my head, completely covering my face and calling that a vast improvement.”
“I only did that once” Freddy said indignantly. “Just try on the hat Kiki, please.”
Looking at Suga and Mirai, Kiki realized that they were wearing hats and scarfs that Freddy must have picked out. Suga with green and white stripes and Mirai with red and blue. For years Kiki had wondered if there must be some sort of significance to the colors, but Freddy had never explained. Putting on the hat and scarf, Kiki felt silly. Freddy looked happy as he went back to give hats and scarfs to Nella and Nan.
With that Kiki and Anya resumed walking down the rows of stalls. That was when she came to the stall run by the Russian woman who sold pickled vegetables and preserves. She smiled when she saw Kiki and Nella, the two of them had gotten the pickled ginger root that had helped Nella when she had over-indulged in years past from her.
“You have gotten big” The woman said in Russian to Nella, who didn’t understand.
“Nella doesn’t speak Russian Grandmother” Anya said, “We do what we can though.”
The woman who ran the stall chuckled at that while Kiki looked at a jar of rosehip preserves. It was a good example of products of medicinal value that Kiki had been keeping an eye out for. As she grabbed that and several other jars, she made a point of getting a jar of ginger root because she would probably need it later.
“Kristina and Antonia have come here in the past?” Yuri asked.
The woman gave Yuri the look that often greeted him when he spoke Russian with a Berliner accent. He might as well have waved a flag that said Son of Exiles on it.
“Yes” The woman said as she deliberately avoided being framed in the camera that Yuri was carrying. He might be an ethnic Russian, but he revealed himself as being not from there when he did things like this.