This is a true story but I have changed the names, and some of the circumstances to maintain confidentiality.
Sonia went away to University, to a city far from her family. She quickly made friends and got to know the others in the same classes as her, and some across the rest of the faculty. She and her friends noticed among the other students a couple of lads; one was quite handsome, greeny-blue eyes, rather wild brown hair, tall and very upright, with metal segs on his shoes so they could always hear him coming down the corridor. His friend was shorter with piercing blue eyes, high forehead, straight broad nose, wide mouth, high cheekbones and shoulder length hair.
Sonia got into conversation with the shorter of the pair, he was in several of the same classes as her. His name was Bohdan Yevtushenko and everyone called him Dan or Danny; another student commented on his unusual name and Danny said it was Ukrainian. Later he and Sonia laughed about the girl who had asked where Ukrainia was. Soon there was a group of friends including Sonia, Danny, Danny’s friend Chris, and Nick, another lad. In the second year Sonia, Danny and Chris shared a flat, and they stayed together for many years. Chris got married and moved away and Sonia and Danny continued to live together, still very friendly with Nick.
Danny was a very private person, and said little about his own family, but Nick and Sonia knew that he had a brother, Nikolai, also called Nick… it amused them as Sonia had a sister called Nicky. They had never been to visit Danny’s family, but Sonia had an address and would send him postcards when she was visiting her own family and he was with his at Christmas for example. Sonia moved away but still kept in touch, seeing Danny and Nick quite regularly over the years, always exchanging gifts at Christmas, and on birthdays; Danny’s birthday was 21st November, which is why I am writing the story today.
Tragically and suddenly Danny died, only in his early fifties. Nick and Sonia discovered the address they had for Danny’s family was false… so Sonia had been sending cards to the wrong address. They went to Danny’s funeral and they met his family for the first time… It seems that Danny’s brother wasn’t called Nikolai, he was called Bohdan… The friend they had known for over thirty years was not Bohdan, he was Filip… It might seem strange that for all that time the person they knew as ‘Danny’ had concealed his real name… he was a private person, very private, even to his closest friends. It actually was strange that the name he had chosen to be called by – not just by his friends but by his teachers at uni and his employers and colleagues, was the name of his brother.
Some years later, Sonia visited his grave; she had to smile when she looked at the memorial stone… his birthday was in August… he had even concealed his actual date of birth. He was a very private person.