Littlehirosima: Beyond the gate


Original by Yevdokia “Dunya” Sheremetyeva published on the littlehirosima blog; translated from Russian by J.Hawk  and originally published at South FrontNovember 10th, 2015

In almost a year of visits to the Donbass, this is one of the most horrifying stories which I encountered.

There were other no less tragic stories.
But there’s something particularly sad about this one.
Perhaps it’s because Viktor tells it so calmly, so detached.

We stood there with our silly food packets and didn’t know what to say.
This is Viktor Rusanov. He lives in Pervomaysk, in the vicinity of Zelenkhoz.

-On November 15, around 7 o’clock, I stepped out my front gate and suddenly heard two bangs.
–No, two mortar bombs.

They turned everything inside out. The shack, all the additions, the garden, knocked down roof tiles.

Viktor points, then turns around and points at the rubble.
–I go into the garden and saw the main door on the ground. The refrigerator was tossed across the garden. I look–and I see my headless wife.

I look at him. Tears?
No, Viktor simply turned away. But no tears.

He points at the spot where he found his wife.

Then he quickly turns around:
–There was a pile of rubble next to the house. I found my son under it later. His leg was torn off. It was on the other side. The dog was also killed instantly.

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Viktor now only has his daughter. She also lives in Pervomaysk.
He lives within 4km of the border. On the artillery shell superhighway.

–A lot of shelling?
–It’s been quiet lately. But in August it was one shell after another.

Viktor’s son was 36 years old.
The house survived, although it’s pockmarked by fragments.

When we left, he didn’t accompany us to the exit.
He was simply there, silent.

I don’t know how many times he’s had to tell that tale.
I don’t know his feelings and emotions.

But I know that there was a specific day and a specific moment in his life.
And at that moment, a part of his life vanished. And now, every hour, every instant, he walks past that spot where his life used to be.Life which vanished in a puff of smoke.

He stood right next to us, but he wasn’t there with us.
As if only his outer shell remained.

We all stood on that porch, stood there in the place of his loved ones, whom he left behind the gate.

Even though I’m writing this, I don’t understand a thing of what I’m writing about.
And all of you, reading this, can pour out countless useless and powerless tears and still not understand.
You can scream your throat raw over what’s true and what’s untrue.
You can shove your demands for videos and proof. Everything.
None of us, myself included, don’t understand a damn thing.
What it means to see one’s headless wife whom you left grumbling at you five minutes before.
None of us, damn it, understand what it means to find one’s son in pieces in a pile of debris.


You, too, can contribute to helping the people of the Donbass. Contact me in person through my livejournal accountthrough Facebook, PayPal ([email protected]), or via email: [email protected]

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