Alexander Alyakin

Alexander Alyakin was born on July 31st, 1948, in the Ulyanovsk district, and graduated from the Moscow meat and dairy institute as a milk industry technologies engineer. His whole life was dedicated to the food sector. He became an outstanding specialist and the author of many large projects in food plants throughout Russia and outside the country. He was a gentle, and eternally caring, son and brother, a true friend, and an attentive and loving father and husband.

My sister and I were mostly brought up by mama, of course, but the feeling of a father nearby, of having a man in the house, this is impossible to put into words. The smell of his big daddy hands, his leather gloves, and his work briefcase - he always had that marvelous odor of eau de cologne about him. And how he could drive! I will never forget those moments on Friday evenings when we would hear through the dacha window the Moskvich horn honk, and my sister and I would race each other to the car and stick our noses in all the bags, always with the same question: "What tasty things did you bring?" And disheveled and happy from our attentions, papa would enter the house followed by an aromatic cloud smelling of watermelon or honeydew.

I was daddy's favorite, and we understood each other. I heard that it is rare that this happens between a father and a daughter, especially when she starts considering herself grown up. Dad was always reserved and objective in his emotions. Whenever I had a significant success in something, such as being accepted into the institute, he would simply say "not bad" or "you earned it" in a peaceful and even voice, but for me it was as if wings had sprouted from my back out of happiness. We played unusual games, gentle ones. Papa taught me to play chess and 'Cities', and drew my portraits in felt-tip pen.

The last time we were together was when he was directing the last stages of work for the renovation of their apartment. For almost 30 years papa had dreamed of having his own apartment with mama in Moscow, and that it should be built in the way he considered "correct".

That night we had a long and personal talk, perhaps the most serious and frank discussion of my entire life. We talked about literally everything. We shared our plans with each other, our opinions, and even argued a little. When we bid each other farewell in the corridor, I hugged him very tightly, and for some reason there were tears on my cheeks. We just stood there like this for about ten minutes, without a word. I was so very happy that we could talk about things so honestly and openly.

Before 'Nord-Ost' came, there was this big advertising campaign going on. A poster said that every evening a real bomber would land on the stage. "Now how about that!" I thought, standing in front of the poster in the subway car. Back then I could not even imagine that the musical advertised on the poster in front me would soon cut my life in twain.

We never even knew that he was THERE.

On October 24th, the institute where I was studying (and, by the way, where my parents and sister also studied) cancelled classes because of its proximity to the theatrical center. It was a gloomy day, and so I went home and lay down to sleep.

We did not find out that papa was at 'Nord-Ost' until October 25th. A colleague of my sister could not hold back, and told us. Papa, it seems, did not want us to worry. He only let his business partner know, and asked him not to tell us anything. Mama has a weak heart, and my sister and I, in his opinion, were too sensitive. We only thought he was away on a business trip.

Mama went to the theatrical center right away, but I kept trying to call papa on his cell phone, and after a few tries a man with an accent answered. He told me that papa had drank a bit and was now sleeping, but tomorrow he would come home. He asked me not to worry.

But 'tomorrow' was the day of the assault. Mama and my sister drove from hospital to hospital, and as the youngest I had to stay home and man the telephone, and follow the news on the television set. They often showed a clip with the president's commentary, and among the general words I only heard one phrase: "We couldn't save everyone, please forgive us." Every time I heard these words I started to cry. I thought, such strange words - "forgive us". But the whole time I was sure that these words were not meant for me, but just for everyone else.

Before papa's arrival I decided to bake a pie, because when mama finally did locate him, and he came home from the hospital, he would like it. He always loved the pies I baked. But the pie did not turn out right, and they found papa in the Botkin morgue. And then everything was just like as it was for everyone else.

Written by his daughter. 1