I never thought this would be his fate. He had everything he needed to live and put his ideas to test.
He had a strong character. He had many interests. I always thought he would achieve much. I always had confidence in him.
In his teens, I was sometimes nervous. He would say to me: Mom! I’ll never do anything bad — nothing to make you feel ashamed or for you to worry about.
I think I believe in fate. But when it concerns you, it is terrible. Yevgenia was very much afraid of Arabs. Every explosion affected her terribly. I remember how she was sitting here, unable to eat. I asked her, “Why aren’t you eating?” She says, “These boys left their kibbutz to go to school. And got killed . . .”
Yevgenia couldn’t live without dancing; she went to disco all the time. But this time, she said, “I don’t know whether I’m going or not. I’m so tired! I don’t want anything.”
There were so many omens on our way to Israel. When I left the immigration office, I saw they had forgotten to put her in my passport. Then they forgot to include her in my Sokhnut [Jewish resettlement agency] papers. Then I lost her ticket at the airport. It was as if something was trying to keep her away from here. Sixty years ago, the Nazis killed her great-grandfather because he was a Jew. I brought my daughter to the Holy Land so that she would be at home here, and now a Palestinian has killed her for the same reason. Someone decided the fate of my daughter.
I don’t want to believe in fate, because strange things happen to my family. On June 1, my cousin died in Belorussia. Also on June 1, Anya died. But I don’t want to believe in a family curse. If you believe it, it can become reality. One must believe that it will be all right, that our future will be bright.
So many things converged here. So many unbelievable coincidences!
She wasn’t going there, because she did not go to discos — she was not interested. But she went.
Second, usually Anya’s mother would call in the evening and ask if Anya was at our house. That night she didn’t. If she had known they were going to a disco, she wouldn’t have allowed Anya to go. And then Mariana wouldn’t have gone either.
Another coincidence: I picked up a copy of the Luch newspaper, and it had a list of terrorist attacks in it. For the past week, there had been at least one a day. I told Mariana: “Look at it! It’s a good thing we live in Tel Aviv — it’s unlikely that anything happens here.” We did have this conversation!
Lately, I looked at her a lot. She was sitting right here on the couch, watching a TV serial. I kept staring at her for a long time. She turned to me: “Why are you staring at me like this, Dad?” I said, “I didn’t even notice how quickly you grew up.”
I believe in fate. Another moment, and I would have missed the car that took us to the Dolphinarium.
When we came here, I had a feeling I’d get stabbed in the back — on the left side, for some reason.
But I was mostly worried for my older daughter, because she rode buses. I was nervous all the time. Since February, I had been fidgety constantly. But Yulia went only to Rishon, Bat Yam, and Holon.
I do feel like I was stabbed in the back. I don’t know if I believe in fate. There must be something to it. It does seem as though it was fate that took Yulia to Dolphi on that day. No way she should have been there, but she was. I still don’t understand: Why didn’t she go with Shaul? How else can you explain this but her fate?
I only know that my child is dead. And I had no one in the world but her. I had her at thirty-three and a half. When my husband and I got married, she was twelve. We lived together for four years and then got divorced. She was not just a light in the window; she was my life. In one fell swoop, I lost everything. How can I analyze whether I believe in fate?
I heard you can’t escape your fate. That means this was her fate. The ones who died at Dolphinarium were so young, so attractive, so life-loving. All had dreams of their own. Marina wanted to serve in the Army and go to college. Unfortunately, life took a different direction. Her dreams were cut short by a terrorist. Her life ended on the first day of summer — the International Children’s Day.
I believe in fate. A person doesn’t know what can happen to him — it’s not in his powers. It’s too bad that fate is generous to some and cruel to others.
How did she end up on that day, in that place, at that time — when she didn’t even want to go there? It has to be fate. It means that that was all the living she had been allotted. But for me, her mother, this is unfair: She left and she never came back. In my mind, I can still see her leave.
Last year she asked, “Mama, what will you do if I suddenly died?”
“Perish the thought,” I said, “I won’t live through that! You should live and rejoice. You’re the ones who will bury us. But why do you ask?”
“No reason,” she said.
But now that I recall this conversation, I think it wasn’t for no reason. Maybe she foresaw her fate.
There are things you can’t understand. Of the three of us, I was the closest to the bomber, and Irina was the farthest. She died, and I am alive.
Alesha believed in fate strongly. When he was four or so, I had an accident and ended up in a hospital. He sat at my side, stroked my hand, and comforted me: “Dad, don’t worry, this is your fate.”
I don’t want to believe that our family is cursed. We used to believe that everything would be fine. Our son was a strong, handsome boy. We believed he would be happy. We tried to do everything for him. We thought, If we have such a good son, then we must have a good fate.
Now we think we’re the unluckiest, unhappiest parents. I even had suicide thoughts at one time — so I could be with my son.
Perhaps it’s the beginning of the end of the world — I don’t have any other explanation.
Everybody says: Fate. I don’t believe in fate. If we had been in Ukraine at that time, nothing like this would have happened.
I believe in fate. When I was very young, I used to say I’d end up my days alone. Just a premonition that I had. Sergei used to say — not to me, but to others — he wouldn’t have a long life. He didn’t say it to me, though. He knew I would be upset. Of course, I don’t think he was planning to die at twenty. But “not a long life” is relative — maybe he meant forty or fifty, I don’t know.
I should have changed his last name. All Panchenko men died young in an unnatural way. Had I known the same would happen to my son . . . I thought if he made it to twenty-five, he’d have a long life. But he didn’t.
In general, I believe in fate. I don’t blame anyone but Arabs in the explosion. I don’t think if Ilya had come up to me when I called his name or if we had come fifteen minutes later or whatever — then everybody would be still alive.
I really wasn’t planning to go out. But Nadezhda called me. I really think it’s fate that gathered us there. Some would be tested and others would be taken away.
I believe in fate. It didn’t happen because we had come to Israel; it could have happened anywhere. If we the parents, and our children, are fated to have an ordeal like this, then we have to go through it.
This incident convinced me you can’t escape your fate.
Nadezhda (his mother):
Lately Maksim and I have been arguing on this subject a lot. I said, Son, every man has a fate, but ultimately you create your own fate. You have to overcome it. I used to think I was a weak, defenseless woman, always hiding behind my husband’s back. But then I turned out to be a strong person. And that’s what I teach my children. However hard life may be, you have to take it to the limit and overcome. If at any stage you give up, this is the end.
There is something that guides us, but I don’t believe in fate. But it is within your power to take precautions. Of course, you can’t lock yourself within four walls and never go out. But now that I’m in the hospital, now that I have gone through it all, I don’t think I’ll be going to a disco any time soon.
I don’t believe in fate. I’m the one who decided Liana’s fate. She didn’t want to go to Israel; she didn’t want to leave her friends, her theater, her school — to the very last moment she wanted to go back to Moscow.
How else can I explain why she was there at that particular moment, why she had been so successful in everything she was doing for the three preceding months, and why she had been trying to complete every single project? All of a sudden, she forced her mother to go to a photography studio and have a picture taken. She went to see her grandparents at the retirement home and put her picture on the wall in their room — though they had already been there for a year and a half. She stepped up her studies and was getting excellent grades. It was as if she had been trying to wrap up all her earthly affairs. As if she had had a premonition. After all that, how can one not believe in fate!
Several years ago, I went to a fortune teller with Ilya’s picture. She said: I don’t see him at your side in the future. She didn’t say that something like this would happen. She said maybe his absence means he would move to another city.
What happened happened. Is it fate? I don’t know. Everything was moving towards that moment — everything. As I recall the way it was going, day by day, it was as if something had been propelling things to this outcome — I don’t know what it was.
I wasn’t planning to go to Dolphi at all, but it so happened that I did. So it was meant to be.
This had to be fate that they had to leave so early. I don’t know. We went to the Dolphinarium. I had never been there before. I don’t know why, but I felt some kind of distaste towards the place. And Diaz had never been there before. We meant to be there for a couple of moments, to pick up his girlfriend. No one thought this might happen.
Fate exists. But you make your fate yourself.
I believe in fate. Whatever is fated to happen, will. If you’re fated to die, you’ll die, perhaps not in that bombing, but you’ll get run over by a car, or your heart will stop, or something.
I have always said I won’t die a natural death — I don’t know why. But to die in a bombing — never in my life could it occur to me! I could have been run over by a car or I could have drowned — but an explosion? I saw explosions on TV, but I would never think something like that could be my fate. I still don’t know whether I have fully realized it. If all of my friends were alive, I would have never believed in it.
I was walking with friends, and we saw a stand with stone figurines. Everybody bought something: a frog or something else. I don’t know why, but I bought a tiny dolphin. I came home and thought: why had I picked out a dolphin? By accident, I thought. But after what happened . . . Our children — they’re all dolphins. Dolphinarium.
Dolphin — a song by Anya Kazachkova
His home is the ocean, his love is life
He doesn’t envy the birds striving upwards
His gold is the sun, his pearl is the sea foam
Every day he lives is like a pink dream
He could swim wherever he is called
But no one’s left of those who waited for him
His scream bursts the dark depths
No one answers: He is the last Dolphin
He needs a storm, the last wave
He will be smashed against the ugly shore rocks
The wave will wash off his body
And drag it to the bottom
What good is a life when there’s no one in it?
Water takes away the salt of his tears
The drops of love and good that no one sees
You’ll never see a Dolphin weep
You may be lonely, but he is alone