The two girls from Kyrgyzstan got into the spotlight four years ago. The Russian media provided extensive coverage of Zita and Gita Rezakhanovas, the Siamese twins who were surgically separated by Russian doctors on March 26, 2003, at the Moscow-based Filatov Children’s Hospital. The operation was unique.
It was impossible to make a prognosis of the girls’ recovery. Will the girls start living different lives? Will they be able to fully recover after the operation? What does the future hold in store for them? Fortunately, the operation went off without a hitch. The doctors did their utmost trying to perform it in the best way possible. The girls did their part while going through extreme physical pain during the operation. They whispered the same phrase over and over as tears were flowing down the faces: “We’re happy. We dreamed a lot of being separated.”
Zita and Gita moved to a children’s rehabilitation clinic following the operation. Later they spent some time in orphanages and boarding schools located in Moscow and the Moscow region. The sisters were learning to live in a new way. They went to school, made new friends. In 2006, they returned to Kyrgyzstan. They spend most of the time in a special boarding school under constant medical observation.
However, their Moscow doctors have not lost track of the twin girls. Zita and Gita recently arrived in Moscow to have their old prosthetic devices replaced with the new ones.
“Hello! Have we changed in any way?” ask the girls as happy smiles cross their faces.
We have not seen the girls for a year. It is obvious they look different these days. They became taller. They will soon turn 16. Still, they just love to behave like some boisterous children. They are cheerful and sociable. They seem to enjoy chatting for hours.
They girls were getting ready to pay a visit to a hairdresser’s on the day when we met again. “We’re going to a beauty parlor,” as one of them put it. The sisters are accompanied by Natalya Zhavoronkina, a Moscow teacher who keeps watching over them just like she did all those years.
The girls start to pepper their favorite teacher with all sorts of questions as soon as we arrive in a hairdresser’s. “What do you think will the best haircut for us?” is quickly followed by “Who will be the first to have her hair cut?” and so long and so forth. Finally, they do some sort of a counting-out rhyme to decide who will the first one to get a haircut. Zita is in luck. Gita goes to a manicurist instead.
In the meantime, we have a nice little chat.
“How are things at school?”
“Everything’s okay,” Gita says and goes all smiles. “You know, teachers come and go too fast, that’s the only problem. On the whole, we’re doing fine. We get As in Kyrgyz, we get … good grades in English too. Well, we received Cs in Russian some time ago. But it was an accident. We’ll do better next time, I’m pretty sure of that. As for me, I like math. I want to become an accountant,” Gita adds.
“And I like reading. I’m going to enroll in a medical school. I want to become a masseuse,” Zita says.
It’s obvious that the sisters share a strong feeling of nostalgia for the time they spent in Moscow. One can easily see them walk down the memory lane as they keep asking each other: “Do you remember how it used to be in Moscow…?”
“The life in Kyrgyzstan differs from that in Russia, it’s more difficult, by and large,” said Zumriyat, the girls’ mother. “A curriculum in their boarding school is completely different. Compared to those who go to school in Moscow, my girls lag behind in their studies.
And they just love to go to school and learn new things. We often take them to our farm on weekends. Still, both of them just can’t wait to go to Moscow again. Who knows what’s in store for them in Kyrgyzstan?” Zumriyat adds.
Although Moscow doctors and teachers continue to provide help and support to Zita and Gita, the issue relating to the return of the girls to Moscow has still to be raised.
“A German company is currently making new prosthetic devices for the girls. The devices have to be changed twice a year as the girls are growing fast. The price of the devices is quite high, but we’re working on that problem,” said Natalya Zavoronkina. The sisters will spend two weeks in Moscow before going back to Kyrgyzstan.
Translated by Guerman Grachev