The broken vow: Her Italian boyfriend

Alina got an Italian boyfriend. Her father always said.

Alina never had one from Italy but one from Bulgaria – the parents never endorsed the relationship. Why Bulgaria? Would he be able to offer you a decent life? Why were you speaking Bulgarian all day? You shouldn’t betray your Russian heritage. The parents had a lot of concerns.

Growing up in Sochi, Alina never had an adventure, like living in a foreign country on her own. So she decided to take a few months off and she served as a receptionist at a hotel in Albena, a resort city in Bulgaria.

Alina found Albena and Sochi similar in many ways: the sea, the beach, and the resort area. Albena was just another typical resort city that could be easily found in the region. However, her life in Albena was very different – she was nobody, far from her family and possibly the freest person alive.

Despite the similarities between the two languages Bulgarian and Russian, Alina insisted on speaking in English. After all, speaking a foreign language gave her special feelings as if she had a new life in a new country with new people and new lifestyle.

Alina worked as a receptionist in hotel and she knew the bellboy Martin better and better. They simply enjoyed the company of each other. He helped her to adapt the life in Albena and she accompanied him to revise the exams. None of them expected romance.

Alina would only stay Albena for 3 months. What can they expect?

Still, they fell in love. Alina’s parents were getting concerned when they learned that Alina started learning Bulgarian and speaking Russian with a foreign accent.

Don’t be so serious. Her parents said. She told herself the same thing too. More serious she felt, more heartbroken she would get. After all, she had to leave Albena someday. It was just a matter of time.

Then the day came. Martin promised to pay a visit to Alina in Sochi. He wanted to remain a long distance relationship. Never in her life encountered someone who took her as seriously as Martin did.

When Alina was back to Sochi, she often associated Sochi to Albena: the sea, the beach, and the resort area. She even imagined what she would show him when he came to Sochi.

Time flied. Six months were gone. Although they tried to talk to each other on Skype everyday, they had a feeling that they lost track of the life of each other.

One day Alina heard from Martin. He wanted to pay a visit and he needed an invitation from her for visa application. When she was filling the invitation form, she started to hesitate: Am I ready to see him again? What can we do after the reunion?

Time never stopped. So was the sense of hesitation. They broke up the day before the invitation letter arrived.

She kept the paper and put it somewhere. She neither wanted to throw away the letter, nor put the letter somewhere prominent. She didn’t want to forget a person who took her so seriously in her lifetime; meanwhile, she sought to let go the past.

Three years were gone. She learned that he got a new girlfriend although they sometimes revisited the memories they shared in Albena.

Walking along the beach in Sochi, Alina couldn’t stop herself imagining: what if he had come to Sochi? Would that make a difference?

A café next to the seashore was playing a Russian song by Anna Karenina. The lyrics* lingered in the air as if they were also mourning for a broken vow with Alina.

Спасибо Вам и сердцем и рукой, (With this my heart and this my hand I thank)
За то, что Вы меня, не зная сами, (You that – although you don`t know it -)
Так любите: За мой ночной покой, (You love me thus; and for my peaceful nights)
За редкость встреч закатными часами, (And for rare meetings in the hour of sunset,)

За наше не-гулянье под луной, (That we aren`t walking underneath the moon,)
За солнце не у нас над головами, (The sun is not above our heads this morning,)
За то, что Вы – увы! – больны не мной. (That you – alas – are burning not for me)
За то, что я – увы! – больна не Вами (And that – alas – it`s not for you I`m burning.)

* Translation of the lyrics was extracted from


About Brian Yeung

Growing up in Hong Kong, pearl of the orient, I have been exposed to many cultures throughout my upbringing, from Sushi to British Top Talents and Tetris. And yet, after my stay in Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia for study and work, I realise a lot of cultural perception and presentation are just myths and stereotypes. Exploring the real accent of a particular country and its culture becomes my agenda of traveling. I value travel as a way to discover the diversity of life choices. After all, life is just the consequence of our many life choices; the one who is aware of its diversity is the luckiest person alive.

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