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Three goddamn midwives swap infants in Moldavian village for fun

The village of Kazaklia in Moldavia is a sweltering place full of dust and constant water shortages. There are no roads in the area, only directions, as my colleague put it. The village is located in the Budzhak steppe where hot winds are blowing over the grass yellowed by the sun. The village still has the street names that remind you of our recent history. Two families, the Kiors and the Kels, live on Frunze street and Lenin street, respectively. Midwives play dirty tricks with little babies

The Kior family lives in one of the most decent houses of the neighborhood. A nice-looking aluminum door opens into a cozy summer kitchen. The Venetian blinds are hanging on the windows. A TV dish antenna is installed on the roof. The courtyard is enclosed by a tall expensive fence. The patio looks neat and tidy. A small dog is barking loudly at the strangers.

Nikolai and Maria do not seem to be too eager to welcome me into their home when they found out the reason of my trip to their village. So we have a conversation in their courtyard.

“There were two of them, those goddamn midwives. The bitches swapped the tags with names as the boys were lying on a balance. They did it for fun,” recalls Nikolai about the event that took place 39 years ago. He is apparently making quite an effort not use more explicit terms for describing the midwives.

Both Maria Kior and Praskovia Kel had been to a maternity ward before. The Kior family already had a son and daughter. Paskovia had been the mother of many by the time. In total, there are 8 children in her family. On that night, on September 8, 1967 , both women were having labor in a local maternity ward. They gave birth to their babies within an interval of less than one hour.

“Actually, I lost consciousness shortly after my baby was born. I never doubted it was my child when they brought him to me for the first feeding,” says Maria.

The boys grew healthy and nimble. They went to the same school, ran across the same streets, and played together. Nobody would imagine that the kids could be in wrong families.

The first rumor started circulating through the village at the time when Vanya and Sasha were still in their high school.

“Women just can’t keep it to themselves, you know, they love to chatter,” says Nikolai. “One day Pyetr Kel showed up at my door and told me that Vanya isn’t my son. He said he was Vanya’s father, and I was the father of Sasha. Pyetr suggested we trade the boys. But how on earth should I let go the boy who’s been in my family from very beginning? The boy is a human being, he’s not a lamb or something. Today I’m his father, and tomorrow he’s got a new father. That’s not the way things should be done,” adds he.

In the end, no changes took place. Needless to say, there was a great deal of gossip flying about the village for a long time afterwards. And the mothers of the swapped kids would often cry at night. But the boys did not seem to show the slightest concern about the whole matter. They made friends with each other.

The parents did not take any action against the midwives. The parents reckoned that it was too late to get revenge anyway. In a sense, the guilty one was punished. The villagers felt resentment toward her. Besides, the maternity ward got shut down due to lack of funds, and the “prankster” lost her job.

Eventually, the midwife herself confirmed the rumors about the swapping shortly before passing away. She admitted to having swapped the baby boys shortly after they were born. The Kiors heard her confession. The other couple had died some 20 years ago.

I met Ivan Kior and Yuri, Alxander Kel’s brother, on a construction site. Sasha’s home sits nearby, it’s a small shanty. Brothers and their wives and kids share the house these days. Whose brothers are they? Now it’s really hard to tell. Ivan says they are all related to one another. He has 12 brothers and sisters in total.

“In the past my dad used to take me away using his tractor. And my other dad would locate me and take me home again,” says Ivan.

“Can you tell me which one is your natural?”

“Both of them are my dads. I called the one and the other as “dad.”

Ivan has three children himself. “This time I’ve no doubts. All my kids are my offspring,” says he with a smile.

Komsomolskaya Pravda

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12/2008 02/2009


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