My husband and I are peers: we both were born in 1973. The "products" of the Soviet era. We were brought up on the ideas of Pioneer heroes, Komsomol members, etc. Our generation is "lost" almost like Hemingway’s. We all came, so to speak, to see ruins, debris and remains of past life and era.
Old New Year from the past
After being Octobrists and Pioneers, we have entered the Komsomol, which immediately ceased to exist. As a first year students, we had to go to the communal farm to collect vegetables (the younger generation was deprived of such an opportunity - the tradition was abolished since the communal farms began to fall apart). It was the 1990-1991 academic year. A new outlook and thinking came sharply and suddenly. We "rebuilt" ourselves as best as we could. The main thing was to stay alive (half of my former boy classmates were killed because of the various racketeering, black marketeering, cooperatives, questionable earnings, etc . A lot of my former girl classmates have become "night butterflies"; some were missing, three of them were beaten to death, two committed suicide… and all these girls came from more or less affluent families!). We graduated, found a job.
Now, in 2017, we live in some illusory "people's republic". "Good night, kids" TV show is aired – the same as in childhood. But there is no nostalgia. Only a strange feeling that those times mysteriously came back.
January 14, Old New Year. Russia-1 TV channel aired “Anshlag” show. The host of the show Regina Dubovitskaya looked like animated wax figure. Other TV channel aired "Disco Autoradio" concert. Fairly aged Toto Cutugno, too much matured and aged Jura Shatunov etc. Involuntarily I find myself thinking that my husband and I have grown old too. "Ancient clock is still working, ancient clock is a witness and a judge ..." – I involuntarily recall the lyrics of an old popular Alla Pugacheva’s song.
It is 100 years since the Revolution of 1917. All is down the drain - the year will be devoted to this topic and lots of channels will broadcast documentary films and programs to mark the event.
Perhaps they will revive the tradition of holding a demonstration in November. For youth it would be something new, and for the middle and older generations - not completely forgotten memories.
I asked my husband: "We grew up with songs of Jura Shatunov and perhaps will die with them as well. What do you think?"
He said: "It is possible, because the Russian media vigorously promote the message: it is considered that the period from 1991 to 2000 didn’t exist, it was a mistake. And in 2000 "a father of all Russia", "the savior of the world" came to power, and from that moment a new countdown began".
Yes, the 1990s were dashing, but it was a new milestone in the development, a forward movement. Ukraine finally became independent, and we felt ourselves the citizens of our native country. None of the national minorities living in our territory was infringed on rights in any way. Russian and Ukrainian languages functioned equally. All schools had the choice of classes with Russian and Ukrainian language of teaching. The Ukrainian language was compulsory only in the official sphere. We had passports of citizens of Ukraine, the confidence in tomorrow day and calm, measured life. There were no signs of sharp radical changes with the "three letters" - "DPR".
After 2013 came the 2014 nightmare. "Russian world" came. And war too. Apparently, the main "achievement" of the 2014-2017 period was a return to 1991! All science fiction writers may retire, because the reality is a hundred times cooler. The ideology of that time was back in all its glory under the guise of "DPR". Very often, one might feel that the clock hands move in the opposite direction - tomorrow will be something that had repeatedly been a long time ago in the past.
Over the past two and a half years of the "Russian world”, the results of 23 years of independence have almost completely been destroyed! Two-thirds of the mines (if not more), many metallurgical and other businesses are closed. The population has decreased significantly. The state of health of survivors is awful. The standards of living are in general very low. All seems dark and hopeless. The public sector has been removed almost of all the additional payments (for the service record, work with harmful drugs, overtime work, etc.). Everybody just sigh and hope that it will not be even worse.
Hospital: Patients on a starvation diet and fat cockroaches
In the beginning of January, my friend’s mother slipped and hit her coccyx. She was taken to the casualty department of our central town hospital. The hospital conditions are shocking. They provide almost no meals. Food is only for the homeless and for those whom no one visits. Patients are already pleased that the homeless are kept in separate wards. Twice a day a woman selling fried pies comes to the hospital. Patients gobble up all of her pies. There is no hot water there.
There are 6 beds in the ward and only one outlet, that barely works: the small mug of water is heated for almost half an hour. Pillows and blankets are indistinguishable from old rags, therefore the relatives have to bring that to the hospital as well. The floor, bedside tables and walls are teeming with huge flocks of fattened cockroaches. The toilet has a hole in the roof; you can literally see the sky. Snow and rain fall right on the floor. You have to wait the MRI results for at least 10 days before the primary treatment will be appointed. But the "Ministry of Health of the DPR" reports that they care about the health of the people...
The patient was administered only a calcium and vitamin B intravenously. Her condition was deteriorating: swelling stayed, she almost didn’t feel the legs. Her relatives complained to the hospital management (it is important that one of her family members is the employee of "law enforcement service" of the "republic", with the rank of "major").
As a result, they started to serve hospital meals out of nowhere. And even found an extension cord for the outlet! The nurse assured that the cockroaches will be eased as soon as possible, despite the fact that the hospital “doesn’t have” any disinfectants.
The only joy in the hospital was heating. It was even hot in the ward, but my friend is determined to transfer her mother to the regional hospital anyway. She has links and funds, the travel to Donetsk won’t be easy, but the main thing is to cure her mother!
It's a shame...
My classmate Maryna is pro-Ukrainian. She says: "You know, now I’m ashamed to admit that passport indicates that my parents are Russian. Although they lived in the Bryansk region, bordering with Chernihiv, and never spoke Russian. I remember how my grandmother told me that the authorities often distorted the names of our neighbors and relatives, so that they were more similar to Russian ones".
The eighth-grade school students were given a task to write an essay on the topic: "My attitude to the war in the Donbass". Their were outraged – how can children write about it, even if their parents do not know how they feel about it? Meanwhile, we want to believe that this is the last our year under the "tricoloured flag".
Instead of an epilogue
With great effort, we found on sale a box of chocolates "Vechirniy Kyiv" (“The Evening Kyiv” – translator’s note) in the occupied Makiivka. It was available from a single vendor on one of the biggest town’s markets. The golden-red cover of the box shows a monument to Bohdan Khmelnitsky in Kyiv. The hetman is on horseback, holding a mace...
Yeah, the two fraternal (as it was then thought) peoples united: the Russians and Ukrainians. And this is what came of it. Thank God, that Bohdan Khmelnitsky did not live up to our time to see this nightmare!
Anna Vitovska, OstroV