I remember the look in her eyes when she begged me to buy her that newly published book – the first in the Suzanne Collins series of Hunger Games. I was reluctant at first, shelling out the full price of a best selling hard copy teenager-oriented book didn’t seem like a wise buy. But something about Mariya’s attitude was unusual. She never pressed me to buy anything before, not openly at least. Not since the Build-A-Bear times. I succumbed, and am I glad I did. Years later it paid-off handsomely. My refund came in the form of online correspondence: In the last couple of days Mariya and I exchanged a few emails, which in my view was the best father-daughter ‘quality time’ in years!

I told her about my Netflix order of Hunger Games, she said she was thinking about me when she recently watched it (for the umpteenth time). After drying off tears of joy (she thinks about me!!!), I wrote to her a brief message in Russian, which Mariya understood in its entirety, and then… Then I watched the movie, frankly told her what I thought about it. After that she told me several stories related to the subject, which revealed to me a very familiar but at the same time very different girl, who lived at the end of my house. Where wi-fi signal was poor…

She finished her story about meeting the Hunger Games stars expressing hope that I liked it. I honestly think that reading my daughter’s ‘little novel’ was in many respects the best half-hour in my recent unrecorded history. She started writing books at the age of five, but then I was too busy to read all of them. I was also a bit skeptical when an eight-year old Mariya would lecture us using quotes from her writings. She used to say, “As XX in my recent book says…”

Well, now that I have more time, I am planning to read ALL her stories. She definitely is an excellent story teller, and her English is very good. Way better than mine.


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