Red letter day
Our wall calendars are produced in Russia. The days from January 1st to the 8th inclusively are highlighted in red.
- Wow, so many holidays! I wonder, how long have the things been like that in Russia? – I asked my colleagues.
- It doesn’t matter how long it has been like that there, the most important is that we have what Russia has!!! – my "fellows" respond triumphantly.
Public sector is not happy, as they are voluntarily-forcibly sent to an unpaid leave for the whole given period. Of course, trade workers will be in business, hoping for a good revenue for this period.
They didn’t introduce a quarantine in schools, although the incidence of influenza was clearly exceeded. There is a free attendance educational system: the healthy study, the sick ones or those who do not want to get sick, study by themselves at home, not even remotely: they perform tasks in writing in their notebooks (teacher checks it later). All kindergarten and school Christmas events are based on Russian folklore. The most popular characters are Ilya Muromets and Mishka (Little Bear). Russian traditions, rites, Russian winter games are everywhere.
Signs of a new time
In stores you can find warm mittens, socks, scarves and hats with the Russian Winter logo. Sellers praise their goods: "This is the best, the warmest, with the addition of real wool, from the Russian manufacturer! Buy it, you won’t regret it!".
Food industry workers have also decided to rebrand: pancake stalls are now decorated with slogans: "Russian pancakes".
Christmas markets also sell goods from Russia. The range is satisfying: there are high, medium and small trees. You can buy a fir tree branch for USD 1.20-1.60. Large trees cost from USD 15 and above.
"Compared to last year it is much cheaper", - says one of the buyers, smiling at just purchased three fluffy fir branches.
Tinsel and other Christmas decorations are sold at a reasonable price (tinsel costs from USD 0.20-0.50 for 1.5 m, icicles – USD 0.80 and above).
Electric garlands of different modifications, firecrackers and sparklers are also in stock. Firecrackers or fireworks are rarely sold. Gunshots and fiery sparks are already in abundance here.
A slim and very tired girl in expensive leather clothes yells into the microphone: "Sale! New Year discounts for all household appliances! 30, 50, 80 and 90% discounts! Hurry up!". The is almost no reaction from passers-by: for 20 minutes no one even stopped or walked in the supermarket of home appliances Fox (former Foxtrot).
Makeyevka’s town main Christmas tree is brand new, brought from Russia.
"This is very encouraging. They remember and love us. We have their support", - one of friends shares her opinion.
"And in the restaurant, the restaurant ..."
The other night my friends and I went out to one of the biggest cafes in the center of Makeyevka. Menu was surprising: "Cold refreshments" contained "Ukrainian delicacy (salo)". I immediately recalled the famous scene from the Soviet movie Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession, where one of the lead characters says: "The overseas caviar overseas, made from an eggplant". But what is funny in the movie, is strange, disappointing and sad in real life.
The names of salads often contain words “old Russian, ancient-Russian, Russian” etc. The dishes became Ossetian, Abkhazian... Russian dumplings were allocated separately.
We, like other visitors, were sitting on the second floor of the café. At this time office party was in its full swing on the ground floor. All-Russian New Year songs were heard all the time.
The energetic MC divided active participants of the competition for the best group dance into two teams. The captain of the first team, outrageous, expensive-dressed, slightly tipsy girl suddenly shouts: "Who does not dance, is an "ukrop”! (a.k.a. Uke – a derogatory term for Ukrainian nationalists – translator's note)"
The hall fills with an awkward silence, and suddenly all the light goes off. After a few minutes it flashes and gradually recovers. Cheerful MC continues to "warm up" the audience with dances, songs and laughter... As if nothing had happened.
Our mood was completely spoiled. Besides that, they warn anyone to have an ID with them. After 5pm the "police" does "raids" on cafes and check the documents. Are they looking for "spies"?! If a person has no ID, he or she is detained until the circumstances are clarified.
O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree! Thy leaves are so unchanging…
The eye of employees and patients pleases a small park area of conifers near the city hospital of Makiivka No 4. An unprecedented event took place on the eve of the new 2017 year. The largest and highest beautiful Christmas tree, decorated with traditional toys, was cut down and put in the square near the closest House of Culture. The indignation of the local people has no limits.
"It is vandalism! How such a thing could come to someone's mind?! As far back as I can remember, we were watching this tree from the childhood. It is not an overstatement to say that it was a local sight! The tears are welling in the eyes. And now it hurts the soul of the patients every day. It hurts, but everybody keeps silence, afraiding to say. The time is military", - a former classmate emotionally tells.
In search of the Ukrainian candies
I accidentally witnessed the exponential dialogue before the New Year. The customer asks the saleswoman:
- Do you have the candies from Ukraine?
- What? (contemptuously) from which Ukraine? (aggressively) open the wallet and see what money do you have there! Rubles!!! - saleswoman shouted caustically, as if mimicking.
In her opinion, the customer gave a deadly answer:
- Open your passport and read, it says "a citizen of Ukraine"!
The saleswoman stared dumbfounded and silent, falling into a state of stupor.
Yes, we can talk for that yet, so far…
They sing well!
People in military uniform among civilians are a common occurrence long ago. "Our, our guys have gone!" - a tipsy sidekick can proudly tell his mate. Girls look with delight at them, and the bolder ones - smile and make eyes. The military also feel themselves like a duck takes to water, proudly wearing "military awards" – the real "heroes"!
Two young soldiers attracted everyone's attention by their quiet harmonious and almost professional performance of the song "Demobilizatsiya" by "Sektor Gaza" group with a guitar at the crowded crossroad of the city center around 17.00 in the evening.
They sang well, emotionally, with all their heart, with feeling (most likely, it was far from being the first time). People showered them with gifts: coins of 5 and 10 rubles rained down in the case of the guitar, someone even donated 50 rubles. Well done guys! But about what kind of demobilization can we talk?! There is no official call-up in the DPR. The service is under the contract, get registered, they say, we will draft, commissariat says.
Deprived of the main joy in the old age
Recently I have been talking to the sellers of stationery - sincere senior women:
- Are you happy with the New Year's coming?
- How shall I say… (Tears appear in the eyes of one woman, she furtively dashes them away, does not want it to be noticed).
- As it does, if it is possible; honestly.
- (Deeply and heavily sighing) the soul hurts – they do not bring the grandchildren here even on such a holiday… Well, it is better to be there for them… Hardly ever see each other by Skype; thanks to friends that help to contact. It is hard to live with it, but it is scary to move in our old age. Sometimes we gather together, lament, shed a tear, how much does it remain for us? We will live somehow, if only children and grandchildren are well, but we are used to it, we will tide over…
I am on the verge of tears, lost at once how to invigorate them. I thank them, congratulate on the upcoming holiday, but the soul is torn to pieces: for what do they have this all?
What does the coming year prepare for us
There are persistent rumors in Makiivka in anticipation of the new year that...
- Ukraine will no longer pay pensions (and other social benefits, such as "children's money") from the new 2017 year to the residents of the ATO zone, who managed to issue or extend documents of the displaced persons. And no one else will not be able to achieve it unless absolutely leave this territory for permanent residence in Ukraine.
- new (biometric) passports will be introduced in Ukraine on a mandatory basis, and the passports of the residents of the ATO zone will be automatically invalidated.
- Russia will help the "DPR" and "LPR" far less. The amount of "humanitarian aid" and the frequency of its receipt will be reduced for all the privileged categories of the population.
- checkpoints can become completely closed, it will be possible to get to the territory of Ukraine only through the border of Russia and Ukraine, and it will not be easy.
- Russia will finally take the "DPR" and "LPR" in its structure and then we will live in clover.
Most people are reluctant to answer the question of whether they have a pre-Christmas mood, some answer with their eyes bent on the ground. All are more than restrained. "And why are you asking it?".
Many people have frayed nerves, the tears are gone, they cannot eat a morsel - just a feeling that physical strength, and what is most important – mental strength – are giving out with every day, every night. There is no escape, an endless circle, we are alone, abandoned to our fate… How long will this nightmare last?! Why?! For what?!
Here is a pre-New Year's story. If the good Santa Claus could change this situation, we would ask just one thing: "Please, hurry up!".
Anna Vitovskaya, OstroV