Zoya Svetova remembers Mikhail Timenchik: “Mishka made light of the darkness, and it would retreat in disgrace.”

1 June 2021

Source: Facebook

Can a photograph capture love and memory? What can a photograph tell us about a group of friends, their conversations, their jokes, their lives together? A young, grey-haired (salt and pepper), handsome and terribly charming man, Misha Timenchik, looks out from the photo, considering his next joke. Misha Timenchik is one of the wittiest people in this city. Even after 15 years it is impossible to write “WAS one of the wittiest people in the city”. Today he turns 69 years old. And now 15 birthdays have passed without him. How have we all lived these 15 years? How missed he has been!

Who was he, Misha Timenshik? They say that people like him have a magic touch. He seemed to be able to make anything and fix everything. And everything he made and did, he did with incredible talent: lamps, various mechanical devices, small wooden shelves to fit only a tiny liqueur glasses. Or a fantastic toy castle for a children’s performance of the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep at the Shalyapin Museum: Mishka came up with a mechanism so that the little actors could press a button and the castle would begin to rotate, and the figures of the shepherdess and the chimney sweep along with it.

Mishka translated Richard Pipes and various other books, and ran the Fulcrum (Точка опоры) Foundation, which awarded grants to human rights and other non-profit organisations. And that Foundation did a great deal to help regional organisations. He did many things. But most importantly, talking to him was wonderfully interesting and uplifting. And wildly fun.

The photograph, which we have at home, is of some kind of dinner party in the mid-nineties. Everyone is so young and, most importantly, happy. I only have this one photo of Misha. I love it very much: it has an atmosphere and just the right feeling of hope. Despite the darkest of times, Mishka always brought this hope; he made light of the darkness, and it would retreat in disgrace. I don’t know who came up with the name for the Fulcrum Foundation, which Misha headed. But he was our very own fulcrum.

Translated by Verity Hemp

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