The Last Word
Pavel Belorussky 19, is the shoe-shine boy at the Marriott Royal Aurora Hotel He has a story to tell straight out of Dostoevsky. We asked him for The Last Word.
Where are you from?
Kemerovo in Siberia. It’s very beautiful, with the taiga and the lakes. People with money come and buy dachas there. But life isn’t so beautiful when there isn’t any work. That’s why so many people leave, come to Moscow.
What do your parents do?
My parents work hard, they import clothes from Turkey. They supply little shops. They make a living.
When did you first get into trouble?
I did get a job. My parents kept telling me to go and work. I worked in a furniture factory.
For how long?
When did you join the gang?
There are lots of gangs in Kemerovo. Ours had about thirty. I was a boxer. Somebody needed sorting out, I was doing it. We were taking mobiles, beating up the drug dealers. In New York the dealers are kings, with us they’re scum.
I was smoking a lot of stuff. It was fashionable to do hard drugs, my older brother was into heroin; eight years he was sticking needles in himself. I’ve seen what drugs can do to somebody, how he becomes unrecognizable. And then you found God.
My brother was first. He found God when he gave up drugs, came to Moscow; now he’s studying theology in St Petersburg. He left a bible in our apartment. I was at home, just thinking what sort of friends did I really have? I started reading the Bible, started thinking properly. I gave up smoking and swearing. My mother said that I became like a son, she could see it on my face.
Why did you come to Moscow?
To attend Bible school. It’s Episcopalian. There are students from everywhere: Uppsala, Sacramento, Hanoi.
How did you find the shoe-shining job?
A friend in Bible class; he’s also a shoeshine boy. It’s convenient for studying; I work every other two days. How do you like being a shoe-shine boy? I wasn’t going to do it, clean people’s shoes; but now I like it. The guests are very different. I have a customer who works in the Kremlin, he’s from Kemerovo. We got talking. He guessed what I’d been up to, told me, “You think you’re the only one….”
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples
Yes. “For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)