Name: Nikolay Andreyevich Vishinskiy
Date of birth: Autumn 1899
Place of birth: Moskvá, Russian Empire
Year I created him: 1993
Role: Main character, Not Protagonist
Nikolas is the first of two children of Andrey Eduardovich Vishinskiy and Lyudmila Bogdanovna Surikova. His little sister Katerina, called Kittey, was born in September 1906. In April 1917, in the wake of the February Revolution, Bolsheviks broke into their house, killed their parents, and sent him and Kittey to a labor camp in the Urals. Their friend Anna Pavlovna Furtseva (Anya) was in the camp with them. Upon their return to Moskva after the October Revolution, as part of a prisoner exchange, Nikolas became betrothed to Katriyana Dmitriyevna Vrangel, the last of fifteen sisters. Though Kat initially was very unhappy about the match, she eventually realized what a nice guy she was set up with, and that her potential husband could be much, much worse. Kat and Nikolas finally get married in May 1921, at the Kissing Post on Ellis Island.
When he was twelve years old, he fell in love with the ancient Greek philosophers, and began going by the Greek form of his real name. While he’s not some egghead or geek, Nikolas is still a serious intellectual, preferring to read philosophy books and discuss ideas instead of engaging in pursuits like sporting or dancing. Partly because he’s so detached from the real world, he’s not aware of all the trouble that starts in his home when he adds to his family against Kat’s wishes. She gets her hands on a book about safe and unsafe times too late, and feels she can’t violate Russian Orthodoxy by having an abortion or using artificial birth control. She’s eventually saddled with three sets of twins, and resents the younger two sets deep down in her soul. She never wanted to turn into her mother, who almost lost her mind on account of having 15 kids, and yet now she’s headed down that same path.
When Nikolas finally receives a serious wakeup call about how seriously his marriage and home are in trouble, he slowly starts trying to turn things around. He’s devastated when Kat later sneaks away to get sterilized, but ultimately comes to accept that maybe six kids are enough for them, and that Kat truly couldn’t handle even more kids. When the exodus from Manhattan to Minnesota begins, Nikolas takes his family there first. Once in Minnesota, he starts studying to go to university, a dream he’s had to defer for years. He wants to either go to law school or be a philosophy professor, while Kat and Kittey run a general store next to the house.
Some representative Nikolas lines:
“Don’t you think you’ve once and for all finally proved your love for each other after everything that’s happened?” Nikolás inquires. “I hate this job. I wish I could get moved to the book-keeping department or some other managerial task instead of simply standing all day over scalding hot liquid iron. I’m an intellectual, not someone who likes to do manual labor! I had a hard enough time as it was when I was enslaved in that labor camp!”
“My wife was in your hotel room of sin and corruption to innocently borrow a dress to wear to a dance tonight, a dance we never departed for. She was made late when you came in unexpectedly and she had to hide in the closet.” Nikolás can hardly believe he’s asserting himself when so often he’s been more passive than even Iván usually is. “Kat overheard and oversaw some things that upset her very much. Are you going to give us an explanation for your deviancy, repent and go back to preferring men, or claim my wife is a liar?”
“Had I known you were a deviant then, I never would’ve allowed my little sister within a hundred kilometers of you!” Nikolás thunders. “I would’ve found some other girl in the women’s section of the labor camp to watch out for her!”
“Now that’s crazy talk! You’ve been hanging around Katrin far too long, I can tell. But I’ll retrain you. You’re not supposed to be prepared for more children, even if you know you wanted one anyway. Children ideally are supposed to just happen as little miracles from God! We’ve got two already; what’s one more or even a second set of twins if God so wills it? We’ll love having more children! Think of it as a little playmate for Lyuda and Ráya!” Nikolás takes her luggage and carries it back to their tenement.
“I know everyone thinks of me as this purely philosophical guy who likes to spend all his free time reading, debating, and thinking, but I just couldn’t resist myself when your parents matched us. And obviously you saw something in me. Otherwise you wouldn’t have stayed with me for so long. I know you wouldn’t have if you’d only felt sorry for me like you initially did.”
“He’d keep us here for several weeks at a stretch if he could,” Nikolás agrees. “That little mudak is all about profits, not people. He doesn’t care we’re human beings and not stones. Even the pathetic money we make for all this overtime is nothing next to all the money he’s wallowing in. What a traitor to his people. Now I understand why Katrin resented the Estonians who curried favor with the Tsar’s appointed rulers, since they weren’t acting in the best interests of their own people.”
“And you have been paying an awful lot of visits to your parents lately,” Nikolás says. “You’re twenty-six. Guys your age can function without their parents. And don’t give us that line about how you have six and a half missing years with your mother to catch up on. You can catch up with a weekly get-together or phonecalls a few times a week. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you have an Oedipal complex.”
“Why are you calling our babies brats?” Nikolás asks as he cuddles Andréy. “I thought you’d be over this selfish, lethargic attitude by now. Keep taking all those pills until you’re back to thinking and behaving like a normal woman. Maybe you’ll be all better by our younger twins’ first birthday party later this month. I’m so glad their birthday coincides with the two paid vacation weeks I get!”
“What nonsense. All decent women love having children! You’ve just been hanging around Katrin too long. You’re starting to get some of her radical ideas. You’ll change your mind and want more within the next few years.”
“Kat’s home all the time,” Nikolás says. “I know it looks a bit messy and dirty, but I’m gone at work almost as long as Iván and don’t really care what it looks like when I get home. I’m too tired to care. So long as there’s food waiting for me on the table, Kat looks pretty, and our four kids are fed, bathed, clothed, and happy.”
“Nonsense. How could she not love having four children and having the luxury of working from home so she can raise them? In fact, it might be a good idea to take this time to work on creating a fifth child. Once a new baby is born, Kat won’t be able to even assemble those silk flower bouquets from home anymore. Perhaps working has distracted her mind from putting her all into being a fantastic mother and housekeeper. I’m sure another baby will set her straight, and I’ll never hear another peep out of her again.”
“You need to work on your attitude,” Nikolás says. “I’m sure you’ll be as cheerful and helpful as you used to be once the baby gets here. You must just be having some kind of bad hormone overload from pregnancy, coupled with an overload that never properly resolved itself after your last pregnancy.”
“That’s nonsense,” Nikolás scoffs. “We need to leave Kat’s womb open for any future babies we might desire. Why prematurely close it when she’s not even thirty years old yet? She just turned twenty-six in September!”
Nikolás rolls his eyes. “Kat won’t have the time or interest to even make silk flower bouquets from home once she’s got five or six kids to look after. Kittey works at the florist’s part-time now, so we’ve still got some extra money. As soon as she gets home from the hospital with the new baby or babies, she’ll finally come back to her senses and lovingly embrace being a full-time wife, mother, and housekeeper.”
“Can you ever forgive me for what I’ve done to you, my little flower? I drove you into madness and almost ended up a widower at only twenty-seven years old, because I just wouldn’t listen to you and was convinced I was the one in the right!”
“Yes, of course I know what a uterus is! But you just turned twenty-seven last month! You had a good twenty or more years of fertility left! How could you let anyone take away the essence of your womanhood! Please tell me this was a tragic mistake and the doctor really meant to remove something else!”
Nikolás hangs his head in his hands. “I suppose the most important thing is that you’re safe and back where you belong. My most dear wife means more to me than some internal organ. I still love you, not your ability or inability to have children. I would’ve chosen you even if you had been barren or had problems like Lyuba.”