Elena (Helen) Kovalenko, born in China circa 1924, lived and worked there until she was 21 years old. She spent the rest of her life serving God as a Catholic nun for 33 years in Caracas, Venezuela. She is the daughter of Shanghai Jews of Russian ancestry. Her most precious legacy is a manuscript of stories she wrote. The manuscript has been in good keeping for three decades awaiting publication. This is her story and here are her stories.
The Birth of the Sea Dragon
Many years ago there was a large and sophisticated city in Sie Zian in northern China. In that city, the Chinese invented gunpowder. And it happened once, due to someone’s mishandling error, that the gunpowder exploded, and the earth opened up in a very strange way. The city fell into a deep hole, but suffered little damage. The buildings were not destroyed and in spite of everything there were many survivors. Among them was the King, some people and several children. All those survivors could not climb up to the surface, as the hole was very deep, and at that time, there were no flying machines. There was no way out.
Everybody started to work very hard to protect their lives from some of the scavenging animals that had also survived. Soon afterwards, it began to rain and there was no way out for the water either, so the people started to panic. They built pumps with wheels to make air bubbles; and they built water tight houses. In this way, they prevented the accumulation of water inside their living quarters, but the water level continued to rise outside the dwellings and flooded the city little by little. Men used their air wheel bubbles when leaving their cavernous dwellings to go places quickly. This allowed them to gather food that grew at the bottom of the waters. The food was good for health and prolonged people’s lives.
One day a baby son was born to the King, but it was a monster. This was a great tragedy and a great shame for the royal family. Since it was a boy and the King’s son, he was not killed. If it had been a female baby, she would have been destroyed.
Time passed and the prince was now eight years old. He was very ugly. His fingers were joined together and between his legs was something that looked like fabric that joined them together. His skin was covered with a kind of shell that made him walk very slowly. Everybody pitied him. The prince felt very sad and he tried to kill himself. One day he went into the water without putting on his air wheel. Then, when he came out of the water, he realized that water was good for him and he swam to his house. He told his parents as soon as he arrived home: “Mother, Father, look! I can get into the water without the air wheel. Look at me!” Everybody saw how he had fun in the water.
One day, he was watching the sun’s rays that seemed to spun threads over the water. He felt very sad because he was ugly and that made him think a lot. Suddenly he saw some fish coming out from the sun’s rays.
“What is that?” he asked himself. He thought somebody replied: “Gru-Gru-Gru Dragon.”
“Shall we play?” the prince asked the dragon.
They played and the prince spent several days without returning home. When he finally went back home, he told his parents: “I like to be in the water more than here.”
“I look pretty among my new companions,” he said.
His parents then told him: “Remember, you are a great king and the first one born here. You are beautiful and powerful and you should take care of your people and protect them from all those who are in these waters.”
And so began the reign of the young king. He went to the waters. He loved the rocks and precious stones. He sat on his throne and thought about the sun’s rays. He learned that the Sun was God, that it was superior to everything. He saw how the sun moved the plants and all living things with its rays.
Years went by slowly. One day the King of the Waters heard a voice that came from the surface. It was a youth who was crying and talking to the waters, saying: “what should I do? What should I do? They are going to punish me and kill me!”
The dragon sent his guard, the little gold fish, to find out what was happening to the young man. The little gold fish swam up to the surface and as it was about to dive because it could not survive out of water, the young man saw the little fish and found it so pretty that he grabbed it.
“Let me go!” cried the fish. “I’ll give you anything you want, but let me go!”
The young man replied: “I married a girl and she wants a new house.”
The little gold fish told him: “Go to that forest and you will have a new house and come back here after three days.”
After three days, the young man returned crying again. The fish asked him: “What happened to you?”
“My wife is not happy with the pretty house that you gave me. She hits me and says that she wants a small carriage to travel,” the young man said.
“Well,” the fish said, “Go back and you shall have the small carriage to travel, and within three days return here.”
After three days, the young man returned crying again.
“what’s wrong now?” asked the fish, and the man replied:
“My wife is very mad at me as she wants me to cut all the trees in the forest in one day.”
Then the small fish told him to wait while it went down to see the dragon. The dragon asked the fish: “What is happening?” The fish told him everything, as he usually did whenever the young man appeared, and the dragon told the fish:
“Make his wish come true and tell him to return after three days; and to think that it is already his third wish, that he should talk to his wife before her wish is granted.”
The youth returned once again and told the fish that his wife wanted a sewing machine. The fish then told the dragon and the dragon replied: Tell them to leave and never to return here. They are very ungrateful.”
The gold fish told the young man that he had had his last wish granted and that now they will have nothing, and to never return because the spirits of the waters were mad at him. When the young man went back to his place, he found the house old as it had been before and all the wishes granted had disappeared. Then the young couple started to work hard, as they had now learned to appreciate things more.
One day, when the dragon was near the shore of the lake, he saw a woman crying, and she was talking to the waters: “Take my daughter away because I suffer too much. Since she was born she could not lift herself up and now she is six years old and her legs are very thin. She is all bones.” The dragon then picked up a bunch of lotus flowers which grew in the waters and placed them near the woman — then the flowers opened with a pleasant perfume … “How beautiful!” the woman said. The dragon then told the woman: “Cover your daughter with this sand for six months, every day.” The woman did so and after six months of treatment, the little girl was able to walk.
After that, the woman always threw gifts into the waters of the immense lake, and the dragon was happy to receive things from the world above the surface of the waters.
And so the years went by, and one day the dragon saw a beautiful female bird above the waters. It was a messenger from another land called Heaven.
And the dragon thought to himself: To think that all this beauty is outside of here….” The dragon and the bird fell in love and got married. People saw this and they cut off the dragon’s head, and the little bird could not return to her heaven because it was not healthy and she had done things that were incorrect. The Emperor asked for the body of the dragon, but the gods gave him another body, as they had sent the dragon to the other faraway land called Heaven. [H. Kovalenko]
The Magi and the Star
In northern China close to the border of Asia and Russia a few thousand years ago, there lived a group of magi. One of them, called The Magus, was sought after by many people. He lived in a house that resembled a pagoda, with round balconies that protruded into the sky. The Magus spent hours at night looking at the stars. He had a lot of apparatus and files. The Magus knew how to read the stars at night and knew who would be born and who would die. He knew astrology well, and he knew almost everything, as he had studied for many years.
One day The Magus was feeling depressed because he felt that he lacked something, but he did not know what it was. One night, when he was watching the sky, he saw the birth of a small star. It seemed to shine differently from the others, and it was streaking across the sky as if in a hurry to go somewhere.
“What is it?” the astrologer asked himself. “It’s not time for it to be born yet, but where is that star going so fast? Is it going to the market? I am going to follow that star.”
He ordered his guards to follow him, then he mounted his horse and followed the star. Soon, the star stopped above a place where the market was. The Magus walked through the market and a ray from the star shone over a house where young girls and women were sold.
The Magus went to the house and walked through the entrance that was covered by a cloth curtain.
The guard standing behind the curtain said: “You have no right to come in here.”
The Magus said: “I am The Magus,” and he walked straight in without stopping. He found a seat and sat down. Soon, a Chinese man brought out a newborn baby girl from a room. He asked The Magus:
“Who are you?”
“Well, I come to buy this girl,” replied The Magus.
The Chinese man said: “Here is this girl, she has oriental blood. The mother was kidnapped when she was expecting, but the people who brought this girl to us lied to us. She comes from a priest’s house. How much do you want to pay for her?”
The Magus said: “Whatever you want.” He then paid as much as the Chinese man asked for. When The Magus left the house, his guards were waiting for him. He mounted his horse with the baby girl and rode home. He handed the baby over to his female servants and ordered them to provide everything that the little girl needed.
Years passed, and one night, The Magus was watching the sky and saw that within ten years there would be a change in China. He began to prepare himself for that. He ordered a house to be built in the rocks, with plans that he drew up himself. In the plans, he drew a very long road and a space that would always have oxygen, a space for him to breathe. He also had gardens and a house filled with pictures. In the garden he would plant trees, flowers and plants of all kinds. He also made an artificial sun, and everything was beautiful.
With everything ready, it was time to hide. The Magus told his pupils about his sanctuary. Although he had a lot of pupils, he picked only one to join him. The Magus told his pupil: “When you leave this field you will see a stone with four corners. Take one and with it you will knock each corner twice, and some doors will open. You will go down a very long spiral staircase, and we shall see each other there. Do you understand?” “Yes, Master” the young man answered. The Magus wanted to stay a little longer to watch the stars, but the end was coming and he could not stay any longer.
The little girl was now almost thirteen years old. Every time the servants and the girl came to him, The Magus would change his clothes and put on a long gown that looked like a nightgown with a wide belt at the waist. On his forehead he had a head band made of bearskin. The head band covered his forehead and kept his long hair from covering his face. The little girl worked for him, and brought him his food and milk. No one there ate meat, but only vegetables, which were grown there right inside the refuge. That was how they lived in that environment.
The Magus started to study the plants and the influence the stars had on them and he discovered many secrets, oils, perfumes, etc.
The special oils he extracted from the plants protected the skin from the bacteria that existed there. Other oils from flowers helped the skin breathe. Some extracts did not let one sleep, and others were used to make one sleep. There was also an extract that was used to awaken you if you were asleep. If you took the extract that made you sleep and did not use the extract to awaken you, you would not wake up. In this manner, the extracts helped his body to acquire strength and vitality.
The Magus gave classes to the pupils who visited him, and the rest of the time he spent in his laboratory. He did not watch the stars anymore, but only cared for the plants and herbs that grew in his abode. He felt sorry that he could not give this knowledge to other people, to beautify the skin, etc. because in those days, those who had too much knowledge were killed.
Three years went by. The girl was now sixteen.
She would always watch a particular pupil, and soon she fell in love with him.
One day, a young Chinese man came in and told The Magus that he had a problem he could not solve. The young man said: “My family wants me to marry a girl, but the parents of the girl want her to marry someone else, and she does not want to, so I do not know what to do.”
The Magus answered: “You are an engineer and builder. Go and build a small temple and two pretty urns, and when everything is ready, come to me and I will place you both in the urns and put you to sleep. After a hundred years, I will send someone to wake you up. Do this, because this is the best thing to do. ”
The young man left and in a short time he finished building a small temple. He then went to see The Magus. The girl the Magus had adopted overheard their previous conversation and knew about the plan, so when the young man arrived, she hid behind a sofa and listened.
The Magus told the young man: “Tomorrow I am going to the temple that you built, and you will tell your girl friend to come to the temple too. After one hour I will give you all the writings and the awakening oils to put them in the urns.” The young man then left.
The next day, The Magus was in bed when the adopted daughter whom The Magus called “Star” went into his room. She took the bottle with the oil that made people sleep and put two drops in his nose, and The Magus stayed asleep, as if he were dead. Star took off the pendant he had on his chest and put it on herself. She then took several pieces of jewelry and left with them. She asked a guard to accompany her to the temple that the young man had built. The Magus was supposed to meet the young man there, but instead, Star went in his place. She told the young man that The Magus had sent her. The young man believed her because he saw the pendant she was wearing, which belonged to The Magus, and lay in the urn. The girl gave the young man the substance to sleep, and ordered the guard to give her the same potion after she lay down in the other urn. No one knew that Star was in love with the young man.
After doing what he was ordered, the guard went home. The young man’s girl friend arrived at the appointed time, but did not find her boy friend. She waited for a long time in vain and finally went home. Soon afterwards, she got sick and died. On hundred years went by. During those years, the temple was covered by dirt and dust.
One day some archeologists discovered the little beautiful temple. They began to excavate it. They found two urns inside. They took them down and studied the writings inside the urns.
Late one night, one of the scientists told his colleague: “Let’s leave this for tomorrow.” They went up the narrow stairs which seemed to be hanging in the air. The stairs were built especially to get into the urns. When the archeologist lay down, there appeared before him the shadow of a pretty girl dancing and calling him to come down to the place where the two urns were placed. He climbed down right away and started to study the ancient writings again. This time he found the way to open the urns. As he opened them, he found another scroll and started to read it. It contained the formula and the procedures for placing a small bottle of liquid in the nose of the body that was in the urn. He followed every written instruction carefully and suddenly the mummy in the urn began to move and a girl woke up. The archeologist opened the other urn quickly and repeated the procedure, and this time the young student woke up. The student asked: “Where is my girl friend? Where is The Magus?” But little Star kept silent.
As dawn came, everyone was looking at the couple in awe. They could hardly believe what they were seeing. The young man was given the attic to live in. The room seemed to be suspended in air. In the room were the engineering sketches that the young man had been working on a hundred years ago. He later showed them to the scientists and everyone liked them.
One day, Little Star who lived in the room next to the attic appeared with a very sad expression on her face. The young man started to believe that she was his girl friend but did not underestand why she did not know him. He also felt very sad.
One day the student dreamt that The Magus was coming to see him. In his dream, The Magus showed him how to find The Magus’ home and asked him to go there so they could meet. The young man got up very early the next morning and ran to the place which he had dreamt about. When he reached the place, he saw it was exactly as he had dreamt it. He touched each corner with a stone twice, and suddenly a door opened and he hurried down and found The Magus asleep. He put the awakening liquid in his nose quickly and The Magus woke up.
“Ohhhhhhhh! What happened?” asked The Magus.
Then he told the young man: “My Star deceived me. I could not imagine that she, so young, would have already learned all my secrets, and besides, she knew how to handle everything.”
The Magus took his sword and waved it in the air to open an invisible curtain. Then he said: “This is your girl friend. She is going to marry a biology professor, but she is not going to recognize you anymore.”
He advised the young man to wait.
“Now let’s see my Star. She is in love with you, but be careful, because she is very treacherous. She knows how to manipulate all animals, so I am going to grab her and teach her a lesson so that she will never leave me again.
In a very short time, notice was sent throughout the land that a magus had moved into the neighborhood, and all neighbors were invited to his home for a party. Everyone came, including Star. After all had eaten, The Magus took out his sword and opened an invisible curtain. A beautiful park appeared and every guest was invited to stroll in the park. But before entering, he said: “Do not touch anything while you are strolling.” But being very curious and disobedient, Star could not help herself and she stole a beautiful flower. Suddenly, she fell asleep. The rest of the guests left, all very happy for having seen so many extraordinary things. The Magus then placed her in an urn and covered it with different blocks of stone so she could not escape.
Fifteen years went by. The young man visited The Magus and took classes from the biology professor, but his former girl friend never remembered him again. She died of sadness, because she did not love her husband.
After the girl died, the young man went back to The Magus feeling very sad. The Magus told him: “I also feel strange. Let’s go see what’s happening.” So he put on a white tunic with gold belts, and with his magic sword he sliced the air. A scene of a neighboring family appeared. The neighbor got married fifteen years ago and had a 14-year-old child. That child was named Star.
“Look,” The Magus said, “That is Star. She escaped from the urn and from the laws of men. She has given me a lot of trouble. I am going to find a way to keep her close to me, as she is mine.”
“Master,” said the youth, “my feeling of love for my girl friend is very painful to me. I beg you to awaken my girld friend.”
But The Magus said that was forbidden. However, one day they both went to the cemetery. The Magus called for Star. Suddenly, a storm started to develop and the urn in which the body of the boy’s girl friend was placed opened up, and out came a girl. She asked the young man if he knew her. “Yes,” he said. “that is why I came to find you.”
“No!,” she said, “Only after you die will you be where I am, in a land more beautiful than this one. Birds make their nests with gold sticks. There are no fights. People do not kill each other and they do not walk on earth, but over the flowers that change colors; and from the ground come rays of beautiful colors, and there is no pain nor suffering. Here I suffer too much, because my body hurts as much as my soul. I promise I will come for you.” She said goodbye and the young man waved goodbye. Then he left with The Magus, and he looked forward to death so he could be happy with his girl friend in another world.
The Magus started to come at night to where Star was to scare her in many ways. One time he took the shape of a large spider, and another time he became a bat. One day, he wore his tunic and went to see Star. He stood in front of her with his tunic open, and told her in a very serious and sad voice: “I am tired of everything, and I am not going to bother you anymore.” She saw him behave very humbly and not as strict as he used to be, so she fell in love with him and embraced him. Shortly thereafter they got married, but their marriage lasted only one day, as the Magus was very old and he had always had just one body which became stiff and looked like a statue and then it turned to sand.
When Star saw this, she was very sad and went out to look at the stars. She saw how the stars played, and one of them came down to earth. In the sky she saw many stars appear, and Star stood there staring at the sky without moving. All of a sudden, a voice came from the pile of sand. It was the voice of The Magus calling all the dead magi to come and pick up his body. Then a body formed. It was the body of The Magus. A voice said: “Thank you.” Then Star saw the star that had come down go up again. She yelled: “Wait for me! Wait for me!” She fell down lifeless and then, two stars went up towards the Heavens. [Helen Kovalenko]
The Stone Tree
In Caracas, Venezuela, there was a family that lived very happily. They had married young and then a baby boy was born to them, but as the baby grew older, they discovered that he could not walk. They took him to the doctors and many tests were done, but nothing was found wrong with him.
One day, the boy was sitting on a sofa when he heard a voice calling him. He was about eight years old and could not walk. He lifted his head and saw a small line that came out of a stone. His mother was sitting in another chair, but she did not see or hear anything. The child asked: “Who is it?” And the voice answered: “I am the small stone tree. Come here!” “What?” asked the boy.
“Look”, said the voice, “Stand on this line and let’s go.”
The boy forgot that he could not walk and stood up, stepped up with the stone tree to another stone tree, looked back and saw someone else sitting down where he was, but he looked like a giant. “Strange,” he thought. As he approached the other tree, it also looked very big.
There was a door. The entrance was all made of roses, large stone roses. They went inside the tree — through the door there was another world, a beautiful circle of trees of stone, all connected as if they were arm in arm. They looked exactly the same as the one that accompanied the child.
Then they went down into the sea. The small tree showed him the beautiful scenery, and told him:
“I am going to relate to you my life.” “Oh good!” said the boy. “Listen to me, I was born in a beautiful land and had my family. I was very happy. You should not be sad, never. It is not worth the while to be sad. I am now resting in this form, and I do not feel pain or fear, as I suffered before.”
The tree went on to relate how beautiful it all was before. “The sun and other friends of mine, we sang and were very happy. We comforted each other. People ate our fruits, also the birds and all animals ate them too. Then there came a big movement of the earth. There was wind, and I was pulled out of the ground, away from my parents and friends. I was flying in the air for a long time, and the wind threw me into the water; I moved from one place to the other. What great pain. I lost my legs and other parts of my body, but I would not die. I started to change. I became old and ugly. Then the fish started to eat me, and suddenly, I heard a voice that said: “No one should touch this tree.” “When I heard this, my body changed into stone and I did not feel any more pain. Other stones held me. For thousands of years I have lived, but I do not get tired of telling you of all the beauty I saw.
“Then finally the waters threw me on the Recife beach. A handsome boy picked me up. He had a heart of gold, and with great love, he brought me to you, so that I could tell you my secret, so that you could find your happiness.”
The young boy started to say out loud, “I have found the secret, I am happy.” The mother was startled and asked him: “What’s wrong my son?” But the boy said nothing. He was happy, but he told no one. He always carried the little stone tree and one day found a rare liquid, which he put on his legs. He had dreamt this, but he stood up and started to walk.
“Thank you, thank you little stone tree, many thanks.”
The Birth of the Black Rose
One day a little boy asked his mother: “Mama, why are there black roses?” The mother looked at his son who had a great interest in knowing. The son was already a young man and was studying for his bachelor’s degree. “My son,” the mother said, “instead of answering the question, I will tell you a story. Afterwards, think about it, and tell me if you understand.” The son, whose name was Juan, answered, “That will be fine.”
When nature became what it is, as that which you studied in science, the first beings that lived began to find flowers in trees of all kinds and to prepare perfumes from their oils which flowed from the tree bark. As the extract was prepared and removed, some of it was transformed into oil and another part was transformed into paint. The seeds dispersed and grew into other trees and flowers. The way in which the perfume and other things were prepared was different from the way it is now. The people then knew how to prepare some oils that could awaken the dead when placed in the nose and enliven the glands. However, this secret was lost because those who knew the secret refused to tell anyone, and when they died, nobody knew the secret anymore.
Later, three scientists and mystics began to transform things: dried leaves, crystals and acids into other things. Then several flowers were joined together and their colors changed. They knew how to extract colors from rocks, mix them together with oils, and they knew many other things.
One day, as seeds were hurled together to test a preparation for something unsuccessfully, the seeds were placed underground, and after a few days, many small stems grew out from the ground, and then leaves grew on them. And among them grew several roses for the first time. The plants propagated amongst themselves. And as an experiment, the scientists began to mix and to produce other colors. There were already three colors: yellow, white and red. The scientists continued with the experiments and one of them encountered a preparation and as one of them made the preparation, he died. The plants propagated and it was not determined in which era the graft of the seeds took place and when a very beautiful and large black rose came into being, and nobody was able to describe in which epoch of which era this happened. Let us now go to our fantasy.
The black rose had a special perfume and nobody was able to produce much of it because nobody knew the recipe. Other roses that they produced more rapidly began to squeeze out these black roses from the soil and they had to leave and walk on their leaves to protect their flower.
This small group of black roses walked and found their tranquil resting place where nobody could ever touch them, and where they could protect and defend their beautiful color.
A man discovered that this rose had a very special part and was much stronger than other roses. People began to use these black roses for special things, taking out their essence for other uses and called them the sacred roses because they had a special power.
Juan asked: “Mama, what powers?”
“I already told you, they walked like a man. At the beginning they walked on four pedals. The first ones left the ground and joined the leaves, and they jumped. They learned to defend themselves against the sun so that they would not be destroyed by it. They did not know that they were beautiful and they were special.”
“They began to worry because they were always alone and there were not many of them. They did not understand that their color made inks and magic with which people could read books and print things. Look at an example, son, the newspaper. What is the color of the letters?”
– “Black,” Juan answered.
– “Don’t you see that they are beautiful?”
– “Yes, mother, the letters are beautiful.”
“And this flower is good magic. And so is the book good.”
“Mama,” said Juan, “I understand it thus, that the color black is very important for giving other colors their strength.”
“Mama,” said Juan, “and what else besides books and newspapers?”
“Carbon that can burn things,” answered the mother.
“It is also black, right?”
“Yes,” Mama said.
“And what about other things?” asked Juan. “Is space black?”
– “Think for yourself and tell me.”
“Mama, the examples that you have told me are so beautiful that for me now there is nothing more beautiful than black color. You are divine, Mother, thanks.”