|Odzhan, whose name translates as 'a great soul' is 20 years old. Picture: youtube|
English-speaking 'forest boy' nicknamed 'Siberian Mowgli' born and raised in the Altai wilderness
by Anna Liesowska
The Siberian Times, 11 September 2013
He is believed to be 20, born in the wild, never went to school, received no vaccinations, and was cut off from civilisation.
The young man, named Odzhan or 'great soul', was born after his painter father Alexander and musician mother Elena opted out of society to live in mud huts and primitive timber houses in the wild. Until this week, he has met hardly any other humans, missing kindergarten, school and university.
But his parents educated him in all they know, and he learned English from a dictionary they took with them when they cut themselves off from society at the end of the Soviet era. Now he craves one thing only. Not to move to a town or city or know more people. But to speak to a native English speaker to finesse his use of the language.
The handsome young hermit came to the notice of the authorities when villagers found him and brought him to the local prosecutor.
'I'm living well thank you,' he said. 'We are living well. This is the reality we have that we live here, and its quite a good reality.
'To move closer towards the city? For that we need to have a more cultural society, and of course to change how the cities smell and the pollution.
'I am happy here.'
His bearded father had some contact with people, selling mushrooms they gathered, as well as his paintings. But Odzhan and his mother only met the occasional hunter in the forest near Belokurikha, a famous spa and mineral spring resort in Altai region, 250km south of the city of Barnaul.
'To survive, we are selling mushrooms and my father's paintings,' Odzhan said.
'Who am I talking to? Well, life puts us in touch with people when we need to do something, we don't just come together for a sake of chatting. So for now it has been mostly adults who I've seen and communicated with.
'I study English, I've got a dictionary with words in English with spelling and pronunciation rules for every word. Of course, I need to have practice - if only I could have a chance to communicate with somebody who speaks no words on Russia - at least for a month!
'But there is a psychological difficulty with my sub-consciousness not understanding why it needs to learn English. I can easily say 'do you speak English?' (he says with a good English accent), but for proper fluent speech of course I need the practice.
'My books? I've got a dictionary, and there every word is given with a spelling and the pronunciation. Do I read other books? Yes I always try to read as soon as I have spare time. Perhaps some time later I will get to read, but right now there is no spare time whatsoever.
'If suddenly I get some spare time I will get into painting. '
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The Siberian Times