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                                                                Anushka and Pasha   © Anushka R.
            Pasha and I
 
I became a huge fan of Pasha in1991 when I saw her for the first time at
the World Championships in Munich. Her skating just took my breath away and
I kept following her to every competition she entered. But it was 1995 that
I really discovered what she meant to me. That year I became ill. I was
just 14 years old and I just lost everything. I couldn't go to school
anymore, I couldn't do the sports I loved so much and that I had done for
such long time anymore, I couldn't even walk and the first months I
couldn't watch TV. I just lay in bed. I went to almost all the hospitals in
my country and tried every other sort of therapy, but with no success. The
doctors just told me I had to rest a lot. According to them I had some
unknown virus and I couldn't do anything about it but rest. It wasn't the
fact that I was ill that hurt me so much, but also the fact that a lot of
people didn't believe. You can't see on my appearance that anything is
wrong with me, so they said I was just pretending and I was lazy. These
people weren't just people, who didn't know me very well, but also close
friends and relatives. I was just 14 and I didn't understand why people
were so cruel to me. The only people who believed me were my parents, my
aunt and my sister.
After a while when I could watch TV again I started to follow Pasha more
intensely and it struck me how strong she was. I learned about her problems
and I saw she didn't give up. That gave me the strength to keep fighting,
because many times I just wanted to give up and crawl in a dark corner and
feel awful. Pasha also showed me that I should make new dreams for the ones
I lost and that should try to find new things I could do and enjoy. So I
started to write poems.
This year February I totally collapsed again. During the years I was ill I
tried to go to school and that was quite a struggle, since my school wasn't
really supportive. Last year I did my fifth year in high school for the
second time. The first time I managed to go school for a total of three
weeks all together. The second time things were going a little bit better
for me till February. Again I lost the ability to walk. I was just too
weak. At the same time Pasha had to defend her title at the Olympics and
she broke her wrist two weeks before the Nagano Games started. She went
anyway and successfully defended her Olympic title. Again she showed me
that I shouldn't give up. This time I wrote a couple of poems for her.
Things didn't improve for me and I thought I wouldn't be able to finish my
schoolyear this time again. When I would have caught up with my schoolwork
I would be became so ill again that I had to stay in bed and then I could
start all over again. It was frustrating and I was afraid that I wouldn't
be able to pass this schoolyear again.
At the end of April I got Pasha's fan mail address and I decided to send
her the poems I wrote for her and I wrote her a letter in which I explained
what she meant to me and I more or less told her my story. I didn't expect
any reply. I just wanted to show her my support, but not very long after
that I got a reply from Pasha and her family. They send a really sweet
letter in which they told me that I shouldn't give up and that they hoped
that I would be healthy very soon again. At the same time I had to decide
if I would try to finish that schoolyear. I had missed two semesters and I
only had three weeks to do over 20 exams. I was still very weak and I just
didn't believe that I could do it. The people at my school didn't think so
either and they suggested that I could do an adult education the next year,
since I had turned 18 that February. I had hoped on a little more support
from them. My parents and my aunt were the only ones who believed I could
do it and Pasha's family. They kept in touch with me and told me that I
could do it and that all my dreams would come true as long as I would
believe in myself. I relied on their faith that I could do it and I made
it. I even became the best student of my year. Pasha and her family were
very happy to hear that I had passed. They probably don't realise it, but
without their support I would have given up a long time ago.
During my summer holiday I had to stay at home. Because of my illness I
can't travel long distances, so we can't go on a trip to a foreign country.
Pasha, her family and I kept in touch. They would send me get well cards,
letters and gifts just to make me feel better. Pasha and her family also
gave me the chance to deal with some painful memories. I could just tell
them anything without being afraid that they would hurt me or turn on me. I
have a difficult time trusting people, but with them I had this feeling of
complete trust. They believed me instantly and that hadn't happen to me for
a long time or I must say it only happened with my parents and aunt (BTW I
know now that the people who didn't believe me and said hurtful things to
me did that out of ignorance not on purpose).
Pasha and I had been talking about meeting each other in our letters and I
knew she would give a fan meeting on the 8th of August. I was hoping I
would be strong enough to go and that feeling became stronger when I heard
what had happened to her. I was just devastated when I heard about the
split. It seemed if Pasha and I had switch places and I really badly wanted
to support her just like she had supported me. But all of a sudden I became
weaker and weaker again and the prospect of me going to the fan meeting was
very minor. I couldn't go and I felt really awful. Pasha didn't forget me
though. At first I got the chance to talk to her through the telephone. My
sister still teases me with this telephone conversation. She says after so
many years you finally get a chance to talk to your role model and idol and
all you can say is: Thank you and How are you. It was so weird to talk to
her, but she was so sweet. She kept thanking me and asking me how I felt.
Since I couldn't visit her in Germany she decided to come to me and we set
a day: Friday. We called each other a couple more times and those times we
came further then only: Thank you and How are you. It was like I was
talking to a friend who I had known for a very long time and she never
mentioned any of her problems. She was just very worried about me. We
hadn't set a time yet and when we tried that another problem appeared: I
could only come in the mornings (because of my illness I get very tired
later on the day) and she already had plans on Friday morning. When I
mentioned that to her. She said: Can you come Saturday morning? She would
leave Sunday to the US and she made her whole Saturday free for me. So we
agreed to meet each other on Saturday. She called me again Friday just to
ask me how I was and if she could do something for me. You can probably
imagine how my Friday was like. I couldn't do anything normal and I don't
think I had much sleep that night.
I will never forget the first time I spotted Pasha in person (I could see
her, but she couldn't see me). I got so nervous, but I gathered all my
courage and walked towards her. She made me feel at ease from the first
second on. She put me down on a chair afraid I would get ill or hurt. We
started talking about all kinds of things, about me and about her. She
never mentioned her accomplishments. She was just very worried about me.
When we would walk from one place to another she would jump in front of me
if someone would come near me afraid that I would break. At one point we
were walking and she said:" If you are tired or if you don't feel well just
lean on me." I am approximately 10 cm shorter than Pasha, but she is so
slight I thought she would break if I would lean on her. Pasha answered my
questions about her career very patiently, although we didn't talk too much
about figure skating. She said to me that she had asked her friend if she
knew how I looked like (we had been in touch for over four months, but I
had never send her any picture of me). Then I said to her that I had told
her friend that I would surely recognise her (if I wouldn't recognise Pasha
I wouldn't recognise myself in the mirror!). Pasha said at that point:"
Maybe I should have put on my Memorial dress than I would be sure that you
would recognise me." We then spend a couple of minutes rolling on the floor
laughing our heads off. After five wonderful hours the time came that Pasha
had to go back to Germany again. We promised each other that would keep in
touch and when we would go through a difficult time that we would think of
each other.
The next day I called her before she would leave to the US and we talked
about the difficult time that was in front of us. Again we promised to
think of each other when we would go through a difficult time.
Although Pasha lives thousands of miles away from me she never forgets me.
She always lets me know that she is thinking of me. She and her family have
become very important people in my life. They are always there for me when
I need them. I consider them as my guardian angels. It think it's really a
miracle that Pasha and I have found each other, because the last four years
she has lived a very open and public life and I have lived a very closed
life.
True friends are difficult to find, but if you have found them you should
cherish them.

Anushka.