Original by Yevdokia “Dunya” Sheremetyeva published on the littlehirosima blog; translated from Russian by J.Hawk and originally posted at South Front
–Who’s all this for, young lady? What’s this? –Just stuff. – Humanitarian aid? –Why would you think that? It’s all for personal use.
The chubby border guard, with hands red from the frost, smiles slyly while looking at a completely stuffed car with Moscow plates. One can see the boxes and books treasonously poking out – insulin packets, test strips, and colostomy bags hiding behind them, among childrens’ toys. I’m hopping in the snow to keep warm, ready to continue my cover story that half my organs are failing.
–Where are you headed? –Seeing some friends in Lugansk. –OK, kid, keep going.
This is how we quickly and easily crossed the border into the Republic. To visit a few friends. It snowed every day prior to our trip, so that all of our relatives tried to talk us into postponing it. But the weather turned out to be on our side, and did not fail us. We saw the aftermath of the snowstorm the whole way there. Light snow covered everything, including the icy road shoulders.
The absence of advertisements on billboards is the Republic’s calling card of sorts. Although occasionally one encounters social advertising, mostly the roads are lined with rusty, empty billboards.
And suddenly my eyes, which have gotten used to rusty metal squares, light up. –“Happy birthday, my love!!!” – [someone re-purposed a billboard].
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Yes, things are changing in Lugansk. Everything on that billboard is beautiful, the background, the glasses, the sun…So much awesomeness.
“Happy Birthday, Beloved!”
[Next, I see a fresh “District Court” sign.]
–Hey, Zhenka! Is the legal system fully working yet? –No, not yet. –So what’s this? –Looks like they made a sign. –So, the courts are working? –No, not yet.
Fine, but since the sign is here, the courts can’t be far behind.
Lugansk looks busy. People everywhere. Bright lights. Lots of cars and much to do. I haven’t seen a single military vehicle in the last few days, which seemed unusual. And few soldiers to be seen, too. But plenty of local beauties and kids throwing snowballs.
Prices in the stores are rising rapidly, one would think the end of the world is coming. But that “Beloved!!!” sign is yelling the opposite–wait, you still have time!