The sunlight flooded the runway and the grass was the colour of emeralds:
“It looks nice, much Better than everyone said England would be. No
torrential rain, and no ugly grey skies! What a blessing, the sun has come out for me!”
Louisa thought to herself as she stared excitedly out of the aeroplane window and she smiled a warm smile to the seat in front of her, and then looked up at the red seatbelt sign above her head. The writing made no sense to her, but she could understand the picture. She pulled apart the seat belt clasp and yawned. It had been a very long and boring trip in which Louisa had slept the majority of the journey.
As well as fatigue, Louisa was also aware that she was hungry. She hadn’t eaten for hours and her stomach kept rumbling.
“I wish you would be quiet”
Louisa whispered to her stomach,
“People will think that I have swallowed a lion!”
She had woken up in a very happy mood. Maybe this had been a great idea all along, just like Yarik had told her.
Louisa sighed under her breath. She wondered if he were missing her as much as she missed him, already after only twelve hours.
From beneath her seat, Louisa pulled out a blue velvet handbag, neatly embroidered with gold stitching. She reached inside and searched about the bag clumsily. Seconds later she produced a photograph. On it were the figures of two people, a man and a woman. Dressed for winter in thick gloves and scarves, woollen hats and big boots. They were standing side by side, on a blanket of crisp white snow, in front of The Towers of Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. The girl in the photo was Louisa, and the man standing beside her, Yarik. Her husband.
Gently with her fingers Louisa rubbed the photograph of Yarik’s face affectionately. She put the picture to her cheek, closed her eyes, and tried hard to visualise his face, and remember his smell. When tears started welling in the backs of her eyes, Louisa put the photograph away, picked up her belongings and tried to compose herself:
“It’s only for one year, and I trust Yarik, but I know I am going to miss him incredibly. I must write him every day and stay strong, for both our sakes.”
Louisa Vachnadze was born into a poor family of farmers in an isolated village called Hugir, on Olk’han Island along side the Lake Baikal, in former soviet Russia. She is 19 years old and a clever girl who excelled at school. She has a good relationship with her father Alexander and her mother Polina. She is very close to her older sisters, Inna and Colette and her younger brother Alexei. Her parents are religious and together the family would attend the Russian Orthodox Church in the neighbouring town of Irkutsk. Coming from such a close knit and loving family Louisa had a sheltered childhood and grew to be a content yet naï¿½ve adult who is optimistic and always tries to see the best in everyone and everything.
Louisa is beautiful. Her hair is light ash blonde, like spun gold. It is long, thick and straight. Her eyes are round and shining, the colour of sapphires, rimmed with hundreds of long black lashes. She has a very smooth complexion, she has defined cheekbones that have natural glow and are softer than that of a small child’s. Her lips are perfectly formed, full and heart shaped, stained rouge like the reddest rose. She is 5’7, slim with very long legs.
Every winter in Hugir it snowed heavily. It was always very deep and would last for long periods of time. For months Alexander would be unable to work and there was often a shortage of food and electricity. Over time the Vachnadze family learnt to deal with it, and thanked the Lord above every night, for keeping them safe and giving them shelter. On the eve of Louisa’s 16th Birthday it snowed particularly heavily and the Baikal Lake froze over. So in the morning after breakfast, Louisa and her brother decided to go skating on the Lake.
To begin with the lake was full of happy children all smiling and milling about merrily. In amongst them were Alexei and Louisa, who skated together happily for hours. They had a lot fun and laughed a great deal, it was a brilliant start to Louisa’s birthday, and she valued the time she spent with her brother. Sadly, at around lunchtime, the air got very cold and the lake started clearing of people. It seemed an appropriate time for Louisa to take her brother home. Besides, they were both soaked through; Alexei’s lips were going blue, and though her little brother protested Louisa was sure that he was tired and probably very hungry. Alexei had not been able to sleep through the storm the previous night, and neither two children had eaten since breakfast, at least 4 hours ago.
She took careful hold of Alexei’s hand and together they skated to the side of the lake where they had left their belongings and could sit down and take their skates off. After a while, the older more experienced skaters began piling onto the lake. Excited, Alexei insisted that the pair stay and watch. For a while, brother and sister sat, staring dumbfounded at the different boys and girls whizzing round the ice. There was one boy in particular who caught Alexei’s eye. He was twirling, and flipping in all different directions. He was amazingly majestic. It looked as if he was in total control until all out of the blue he lost his balance and just fell flat on his face in front of Alexei and Louisa. They watched as the fallen boy tried to pick himself up. He grimaced, and sank dejectedly to the floor. It was clear that he had hurt himself quite badly and was unable to move.
“Wait here Alexei,”
Louisa said to her brother. She hurriedly removed her boots and put her ice skates on.
“I’m going to help him Alexei, I’ll be back in a minute.”
Alexei nodded, and Louisa stood up and skated the short distance to where the fallen boy sat unable to move. She tapped him on the shoulder smiled sweetly and said:
“Hi, I’m Louisa Vachnadze. That was a nasty fall, are you ok? Please, let me help you up?”
The fallen boy gazed up into Louisa’s eyes. He could not speak for she was gorgeous,
the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Her soothing voice, her flushed cheeks and her little red nose, all added to the appeal. She was so cute, and he could not believe his luck. Embarrassed he spurted out his name while she helped him up. The boy was mesmerised, he could not take his eyes off her.
“I..I fell, and I’ve..Umm..Hurt my leg. Thanks for doing this. My name’s Yarik Sorokin by the way, thanks”
The rest, as they say is history. Two years her senior, Yarik is the total opposite to Louisa. He is a stocky athletic built man of 6′. He has wide shoulders, short, jet-black hair, and twinkling green eyes. After their chance meeting at Lake Baikal Louisa and Yarik started dating, and within a year Yarik had proposed. He asked Alexander Vachnadze for his daughter’s hand in marriage and he accepted straight away. All of the Vachnadze family love Yarik, especially young Alexei who he taught to ice skate.
Just after her 18th birthday Miss Louisa Vachnadze became Mrs Louisa Sorokin when she and Yarik were married in a quiet ceremony in Irkutsk. They had little money and could not afford to go abroad for their honeymoon. So instead they went to Moscow for the weekend, to see the Kremlin, and Red Square. They had a fantastic time, and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
After eight months of marriage and a sturdy relationship Louisa and Yarik feel ready to start a family, but knew they must wait until they were financial stable before they brought a child into the world. Yarik works with Alexander on the Vachnadze farm, and brings in just about enough money to feed both him and Louisa. A month ago Yarik’s father told his son that his uncle, living in England, had offered to pay Louisa’s plane fare to England and teach her English for a whole year, if she was interested. So long as she cleaned Yarik’s uncle’s house for him, she may be lucky and earn some extra money on the side. Louisa would have to get the plane alone to England but would be met by someone at the airport. It was all very simple. Yarik was behind his young wife either way, and she knew it. Yet Louisa felt inclined to take up the offer because it was such a good opportunity and she would feel guilty if she did not do it.
So on the 17th of September 2001 Louisa Sorokin left Hugir in Russia for Gatwick in England.
Louisa hated the airport. There were people smoking, trolleys clinking together, babies crying, People talking. Everyone was walking like they knew what they were doing and where they were going. There were people everywhere, so much movement and so much noise. Louisa did not know where to look. She felt terribly alienated and vulnerable. She just wished she could disappear. She decided that her best bet was to follow the crowd of people in front of her. Luckily she spotted a man who had been sitting in front of her in the plane and followed him to the luggage conveyor belt.
After collecting her suitcase Louisa walked into the Arrival Lounge and she froze.
“Stay calm, stop panicking, just look for the sign, and look for your name.”
Then she saw it. There was a man, who looked English, Holding a large piece of white paper with the word ‘Sorokin’ Written on it in bold black writing. Smiling, she went straight up to the man and greeted him in Russian. He gave her a weird look and started speaking to her in English.
“Alright, I’m John. Your chauffeur, and my heart bleeds for ya girl. If only you knew what you was getting yourself into, you silly little girl. I wish I could send you home, but rather you than me. NOBODY upsets Mr. S. without paying a price, and I’m just the middleman. So Anyway. Are you thirsty? Do you want a drink?..You are a pretty little thing aint ya?.”
John winked at Louisa. She thought he seemed kind enough. He’d even offered her a bottle of water, which she had declined. The man was talking a lot, and every now and then Louisa smiled or nodded her head politely. After a few minutes he picked up Louisa’s suitcase and beckoned for her to follow him. John led Louisa out into the car park and she watched as he pulled a set of keys from his pocket. He walked over to a black car opened the boot, and put Louisa’s suitcase inside. He then closed the boot, opened the front passenger door and gestured for Louisa to get in. Obediently, she did as she was told and quickly got in the car.
Looking outside her window was shocking. Cars everywhere, tarmac roads, motorways, and big buildings. Houses made out of brick. Behind it all, field upon field of English countryside. Everything was different and it was all too much to take in. Within 20 minutes Louisa had began to drift off. John was babbling away on his mobile phone beside her, and all she could think of was Yarik. She finally fell asleep feeling hungry and home sick. When she woke, John was outside unloading her luggage onto the pavement. By now it was dark, very dark, and she couldn’t see much of her surroundings, yet she was still aware of the comparisons between here and her beautiful country. In her part of Russia there are no street lamps, but here there were hundreds, on either side of the road, illuminating all the red brick houses. It was strange, Louisa thought. Cartoon like. She picked up her bag and stepped out of the car. The English man John greeted her:
“Good sleep love? He’s just inside. He can speak Russian. R.U.S.S.I.A.N. you understand? You aint going to like what he’s got to say though. It’s late mind. You’ll probably be spared until the morning.”
The English man is chattering away again. All she wants to do is get inside the house and Speak with her beloved Yarik’s uncle. John points Louisa in the right direction. She walked into the house, and into a warm looking dimly lit room with three or four plush chairs a television and a fireplace. In the far corner sits a stocky man who she guessed is Mr Sorokin. As soon as he saw Louisa he stood up and greeted her in fluent Russian. He kissed her cheek, offered her a seat and made her feel very welcome. He asked her if she was hungry and offered her a plate of food. Whilst she ate her food greedily Mr Sorokin asked about his nephew Yarik and about Louisa’s family.
About an hour later another lady joined them in the sitting room. Louisa wondered if she would be learning English too, although she thought she could be an assistant to Mr Sorokin because she looked very smart. The lady spoke affectionately with Mr Sorokin and was eventually introduced to Louisa as Nataya Abashvilli, another Russian girl, one of many staying with Mr Sorokin, learning English. Louisa was told that Nataya had been with Yarik’s uncle three months and was thoroughly enjoying his company. Nataya was dressed smartly in a pin stripe skirt and jacket with a white shirt. She wore smart black shoes and her hair was twisted up neatly on top of her head, she also wore make up. While Louisa finished her food and wondered if one day Nataya might let her borrow her lipstick? Mr Sorokin was whispering something in Nataya’s ear. When he had finished Nataya walked over to Louisa and knelt down beside her.
“Are you tired honey, I’ll show you to your room if you like?”
Said Nataya to Louisa, staring hard into her face.
“I am. That is a very good idea. Thank you for having me to stay Mr Sorokin,
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”
Louisa stood up and kissed Mr Sorokin on the cheek to show her appreciation. He muttered his goodbyes and said he would see her bright and early the next morning. He had the same eyes as Yarik Louisa had noticed. That was how you could tell they were from the same family.
Louisa followed Nataya up a steep flight of stairs and into what was to be her bedroom for the next year. Simply, it had a bed, with a window above it. One chair, quite a large wardrobe and carpet; it looked nice, clean too, with crisp white walls and ceiling, a terracotta carpet and bed spread. Louisa said goodnight to Nataya and closed her door. As she was unpacking she thought;
“I think I will be all right here, everyone seems inviting and friendly.”
She climbed into bed wondering what tomorrow would bring.
When Louisa woke, she went straight to the window and opened the curtains. Outside the sun was shining; it was going to be a good day. Immediately she thought of Yarik, stepped out of bed and padded over to the chair where she had draped her handbag, only hours before. Inside she found her photograph, but her purse, official papers and passport were all missing. Louisa could not understand, she was sure this was where she had left her belongings; She searched her suitcase frantically but found only clothes. She checked in the wardrobe, and again, nothing. Only clothes. Louisa decided that the only thing to do was to ask Nataya. She slipped on a dressing gown and went to open the door, but it was locked.
“What is going on here?”
She was starting to panic now, this was not right. She began banging loudly on her bedroom door with her fists and shouting for help loudly in Russian. After what seemed like forever, Nataya came to the door:
“MOVE AWAY FROM THE DOOR AND I WILL OPEN IT!”
Nataya shouted, from behind the closed door. Louisa stepped back, and as soon Nataya entered the room, Louisa started questioning her:
“I don’t understand. Why have you taken my passport and purse? Where have all my papers gone? Can you explain please?”
Looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, Nataya looked straight at Louisa and said calmly:
“You don’t need them here Louisa, Don’t worry I will tell you what to do.”
“But what about my English lessons?”
Louisa was persistent but Nataya cut her short:
“You will learn English here babe, but first I want you to have a bath, get dressed in some nice clothes and put on some of my make up.”
Nataya handed Louisa a purple velvet bag full of cosmetics.
“Paint yourself up nicely. I’m sure you can scrub up quite well? Then we’ll eat breakfast, you can have anything you want.”
With that, Nataya was gone, and Louisa did just as she was told. Obediently she washed, dried her hair, put on her best clothes, applied some make up then sprayed herself with perfume. She wanted to make a good impression on Mr Sorokin. And just wished she had money enough to buy clothes as nice as Nataya’s, someone who Louisa already liked and admired.
Later, she crept down stairs slowly and found Nataya in the kitchen preparing breakfast. When it was ready the pair sat down at a table together eating in silence. Nataya read an English paper, and Louisa was reluctant to make conversation about her belongings in case she seemed rude. There was probably a rational reason, why it had all gone missing. As Louise neared the end of her breakfast Nataya spoke to her.
“When you’ve finished go upstairs to your room and wait for me. Ok?”
Louisa was alone for 10 minutes or so, so she lay on her back on her bed and imagined how her husband was, what he was doing, whom he was with and what he was feeling. Thinking about Yarik was no good for Louisa. It just seemed to make things worse. Seconds later her thoughts were interrupted by a loud knock at the door.
Said Louisa hiding her photograph and sitting upright on the bed. In walked Mr Sorokin with another man.
“Louisa, this is Bill”
Mr Sorokin said in Russian.
“He’s a very old friend of mine, keep him happy, please.”
Said Louisa. But she was confused.
“What about my English lessons? Is Bill my teacher?”
“Yes, you’ll see”
Mr Sorokin muttered, walking out of the door, leaving Louisa alone with this stranger. Bill stood up and locked the bedroom door behind Yarik’s uncle. He then spoke to Louisa in Russian:
“I know that you are new to this, and I’m going to have you. Either you play along or I kill you. Be a good girl for daddy, and lay down. Try not to look so scared, I won’t bite, unless you want me to?”
As soon as Bill left her room Louisa ran to the bathroom and was violently sick. She’d showered and scrubbed her whole body from top to toe until she bled. She decided that she could never feel clean again. Even after she got out of the shower she could still smell him on her. It was like he’d left a film of dirt on her body. She threw her best clothes out of the window; she couldn’t bear to look at them. She felt like a cheap dirty whore, and worst of all, she was married. Louisa got down on her knees and prayed, and then she shut her eyes and tried to imagine she was safe, at home with her husband and her family. She couldn’t do it. She sat on the edge of her bed and hugged herself tightly. Sobbing like a baby, she longed to go home. But she knew she was trapped. They had her passport. Nataya was not a friend. What could she do?
“Dear Diary, Jan 19th 2002
Another day, the same thing, there’s nothing I can do. It’s January now, and I’m getting six-eight punters a day. Nataya looks after me to a certain extent. She buys me clothes, and makes sure I’m well fed. She even bought me this diary. But she can’t be there all the time, not in the bedroom. Most men come in and just get on with it but other men are bastards. I have a strict no kissing rule, but they’ll force me to kiss them anyway. It’s hard to make sure they use protection. At the end of the day I’m female and a lot smaller than most of the men that come to see me. Some men get violent; I’ve been beaten severely on three different occasions.
I never look a man in the eye. I smile sweetly and try hard to picture Yarik’s face. I wonder what he would think if he knew I was here now. Nataya says he calls, often. Conveniently, someone always answers for me, and tells my husband I am fine, very happy and too busy with my studies to talk to him. How can a husband forgive a wife who has betrayed him and had sex with hundreds of different men, I would rather die than hurt Yarik in this way.
I tried to take my life once, but Mr Sorokin found out and flushed every pill in the house down the toilet. Including the contraceptive pill that Nataya got especially for me. I really hate men. If I ever escape, I won’t be the same person.
Now I must stop writing and get ready, because Sean is coming. He isn’t like all the other men. He never asks me for sex. He only wants to chat with me. He is kind, caring and gentle. I tell him my troubles with Mr Sorokin and he says not to worry, because help will come one day, and soon. Personally I cannot see that happening, but Sean says I must have faith. It is hard to believe in God when I am stuck in this situation but Sean gives me hope. He can speak fluent Russian, but often encourages me to speak English. So that Yarik can be proud of me when I go home. Thank god I’ve got Sean behind me, I can talk to him about anything. He’s the only real friend I’ve got.
It just so happened that Sean was an undercover policeman. He had heard news of A Russian man named Sorokin exploiting young Russian girls, and had gone under cover to expose this man. When he’d first met Sorokin, Sean had been introduced to Louisa. He liked her, and felt incredibly sorry for her. He made it his personal mission to rescue her.
Sean was unable to bust Mr Sorokin straight away because he had no substantial evidence against him. Over a course of three nights, Sean secretly filmed his conversations with Louisa. In doing this, and taping Louisa’s harrowing story, and heart-felt cries for help, Detective Constable Sean Williams had obtained enough evidence to raid Mr Sorokin’s house.
That very same night he had Mr Sorokin arrested, and his house searched. Louisa was allowed outside for the first time since she had been held prisoner. She was put in a hotel room close to Sean for a couple of nights until the police had taken a formal statement. Days later, Louisa was given back her passport, her purse and her official papers, and only now could she begin to think about going home.
Louisa owed a lot to Sean. She was very lucky. He rescued her, and that is something she will never forget. At last, her horrific ordeal was over. Sean got her the money to fly home, and it was he who saw her off at the airport, and waved her goodbye as she stepped onto the aeroplane.
Louisa stared out of the cabin window,
The sunlight flooded the runway and the grass was the colour of emeralds.
It felt good to be going home.