Olha Shkaravska laughs with her friend when she is introduced to a very heavy item. Margriet van der Linden just concentrated on the autocue with the names of her first four guests. But with Olha she didn’t even come close to the correct pronunciation. The hostess – start the show! – is in a hurry.
At the table of m there are four ordinary young citizens living in the Netherlands with a Ukrainian and/or Russian past. With unusual stories.
Olha’s mother lives in Kiev. She has metastatic cancer and would just start with new medication. The question is whether she will still get it. Hospitals in Ukraine are in war mode. And the necessary medication for chemotherapy will have to be imported.
Next to Olha sits friend Vera Ande – bright green-blue eyes, half Estonian, half Russian. She distances herself on behalf of all Russians from Putin’s invasion. Her parents grew up in the Cold War. “My mother was 33 when the Soviet Union fell apart.” She can imagine that you then believe in Putin.
Her family too?
“Yes, I have to admit that with a great deal of shame.” She explains that her family thinks Putin is on a peacekeeping mission to fight neo-Nazis. People in the West have been brainwashed, according to the Russians. “They really believe that.”
She can’t talk about it with her family. She does not even know that she is now on TV and that she has demonstrated every day against the war in Ukraine since Thursday.
During the short conversation it only becomes apparent how far-reaching her choice has been to join M. It means no turning back. “I can’t see my family anymore. It is not safe for me to come back, because I have spoken openly against Putin in principle.”
And go, there are already four other guests at the table. “We will continue, because we have a packed broadcast.”
Ended up later in the evening without a trace bringing family members together. Neeltje is eighty and has been looking for her mother all her life. She was illegally adopted during World War II. She was afraid of her adoptive mother from whom she “got no love.”
Birth certificates were wrong, but no one in the family wanted to tell her what was going on. She has low expectations when she approaches the trackers of Spoorloos. Even if it’s just something tangible, she says. “I love a photo.”
The editors put Neeltje’s DNA in a database, reconstruct pedigrees and visit people who have a ‘match’ with Neeltje. After a year and a half of research, presenter Jetske van den Elsen is standing in front of the door in IJmuiden. She offers the research results painfully slowly at the dining table.
“You said very clearly: I will be satisfied with a photo of my mother.”
Neeltje looks at her expectantly.
In one fluid movement, Jetske puts the photo on the table from her yellow bag. This is followed by a person card that says that Neeltje is actually called Sybilla and was born a week later. And it turns out she also has an 82-year-old sister in Rotterdam.
Again Jetske lifts a document from her bag. In it Neeltje reads that her newly discovered sister has the same father as her. “Do you have a picture of that too?”
For the last time, the presenter conjures up a family member. Within fifteen minutes Neeltje saw her biological father, her biological mother and her sister for the first time. The apotheosis is a meeting of the eighties, in a flat in Rotterdam. Rusk with mice.
This column will be written by various authors until April 25.
#Vera #Russia #performance
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