Two Lives

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September 17, 2015

Viktor Shilin

Translated by Kristina Rus

Yesterday at work a colleague told me about his life’s twists and turns. He is a young guy, like me, graduated just a year ago from a university, and came to the factory as an ordinary worker. Cheerful, positive person, moreover, interested in many things in addition to life and work – politics, history, literature. Overall, a good guy.

But this time, the conversation somehow went about his problems. We don’t make much, but he spent too much in the summer, went to the sea, and now started to repair his home, realized that he is short on money. Thought long and hard about how he could buy the necessary screwdriver, electric jig saw and something else. How he figured to save a few thousand on the stylish wooden chandelier which he decided to assemble himself. Even drew a sketch of the chandelier. Really, quite stylish…

I did not interrupt him. I sat and listened. And before my eyes loomed the face of the other of my friends. This is also a very good man, but a little different.

He has a family: a wife and small child. And their unfinished house where they live. He works at very labor-intensive job at a warehouse for metal structures: unloads cars with iron profile, cuts it, then loads again, and does this for the entire day. For half the month he doesn’t sleep at home – working as security at a warehouse, because he needs to finish his house. This man has very kind, but very tired eyes.

In early spring of this year he took a vacation, got into debt, and having repaired his PAZik, went to the Lugansk People’s Republic – to deliver humanitarian aid to the dilapidated villages. I will skip the details of how he got into the LPR, and with whom. For a month he drove around the blown up roads of then still gray, bare steppes of Donbass. Arriving almost immediately went to work – had to pay the debts. It’s summer, and he is saving money – again to go to Donbass. In the fall, when shortages of food will begin, they really need drivers with their own transport.

When I saw him, he didn’t talk about his hard life, though it was evident from fatigue in the eyes. All this information I had to pull out of him. He talked about other things: about his trip, what he saw, heard and felt there.

So, these are two of my friends. Positive guy from work, anxious about his repairs, and another who returned from Donbass. I don’t want to say that one of them is good, another bad. But they live like they are in completely different worlds. The world of one is a grown-up sandbox where you need to think how to better built your life from sand. War, the big world – this is interesting, but what does all this have to do with how to build a sand house? The world of the other is burnt-out huts of villages scattered around Donbass. It is the cry of children in the basements of Lugansk and tears in the eyes of starving old people.

These worlds are not good and not bad. Just the first is a sandbox, and the second is reality. Stylish wooden chandeliers are toys, and PAZik, broken on craters, is real life.

Maybe poking around in the sand (and this, too, can be turned into a very exciting and difficult task!) is more comfortable and safer… the thing is that now, when there is a real, rough war – you can not be consumed by your sandbox, and still remain an adult. You can continue doing this only if you’re an infantile living in illusions. If you live in reality, then you must somehow interact with it, but you can’t ignore it. If you will – then sooner or later your neat sand house will be crushed by a real soldier’s boot of a foreign invader.

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