July 31, 2015
By Yevdokia “Dunya” Sheremetyeva [littlehirosima]
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
[To read Yevdokia Sheremetyeva’s other dispatches from Donbass and Crimea, click on the ‘littlehiroshima’ tag above the title.]
–What are you reading?
–I live Spanish literature.
–Would you like a piece of candy?
Yuriy takes the candy, closes his eyes, and starts to silently cry.
Long corridors, scratched up walls, the pungent smell of urine, and endless loneliness and pain.
–The majority has relatives, right?
–Yes, but they almost never visit.
And their fathers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers are quietly fading in these walls.
They wander the corridors like unwanted mirages. Unwanted even by themselves.
One wants to run away from this place, run out into the street into fresh air.
One simply doesn’t want to believe such places exist.
But they do.
They exist right next to us and it’s our fault they exist.
We, or those of us who dump our parents in the shelters for the elderly. And then go on to live our own lives, take care of our own affairs, raise our own children. Whose life is still ahead of them.
But their lives are over. They are gone. You are their life.
And you don’t remember their existence.
It’s not the first old age shelter we visited on this trip to the Donbass.
But every one of them, irrespective of conditions, is saturated by deep loneliness.
And the war finished them off, deprived them of normal supply and the ability to take decent care of these people. They eat only grains and canned meat. We gave everyone a package of sweets, and they tore them open almost immediately and hid them under their pillows. And cried…
The workers here are happy to see every package of disposable diapers. Otherwise they have to use cloth diapers which cause rashes and bedsores, endless and never healing rotting wounds.
And the smell, the smell. They don’t have anything to wash the towels.
They fuse with the smell and become one with it.
As if they were born like that. Alone within these endless corridors.
I take Yuriy by the hand.
–What are you by education? Tell me, it would be interesting to hear!
He has a clear gaze. He’s still quite young, Yuriy Loginov, born in 1951, but already bedridden who can’t take care of himself. Disposable and cloth diapers…
He has nobody left in the world. Nobody’s visited him in a long time. His books are his only friends.
–I am a sound engineering technician.
He was the first whom I saw reading a book here. He has big glasses and quiet sadness.
–Where are you from, guys?
–We’re from Moscow.
–I have two nieces from Moscow.
And he gives me a complete address, down to the apartment number.
A totally clear mind, with full awareness.
–Yuriy, write me a letter! I’ll write you back! Agreed? You tell me about yourself and I’ll tell you about me? We’ll correspond? And next time I’ll bring you books!
Yuriy covers his eyes with his hands and starts to cry. Cry and cry.
I can’t stand this, I walk away. Then I return.
–You won’t let me down, right? Because we have to run.
–Your address, give me you address!
–Leave the letter with the nurses, they’ll pass it on. Mail doesn’t work right now. I’ll warn them.
And he cries and cries.
We’ve left. Then nurses came up to me several times. Said he wanted my address, and was worried his letter wouldn’t get through.
Several days have passed but he’s still with me. I already wrote him a letter and passed it on.
But the next time I’ll bring photographs.
Yuriy, I’m waiting for your answer.
Не выдерживаю, ухожу. Потом возвращаюсь:
– Вы меня не подвете, напишите письмо? А то нам уже бежать надо.
– Адрес, дайте адрес!
– Оставьте письмо нянечкам, они передадут. Сейчас почта не рабоатает. Я их предупрежу.
А он плачет и плачет.
ушли. Потом ко мне нянечки подходили несколько раз – говорят, он на уши
поднял весь дом – просил дать адрес, все боялся, что письмо его до меня
Уже прошло несколько дней, но он со мной все это время. Я
уже написала письмо и передала. Но в следующий раз привезу фотографий с
ним, а еще дочки.
Юрий, жду ответа.
Friends! I’ll have more stories on this blog about the shelters for the elderly. Join in the correspondence! Let’s do something for them. There are some who no longer understand what is happening around them, but there are also people like Yuriy. I’ll pass on your letters. There are also children’s drawings on the walls. Nurses say that the elderly really love them and have taken most of them to their rooms.
Loneliness tears people to pieces.
If you want contribute to helping the people of the Donbass, contact me in person through my livejournal account, through Facebook, or via email: [email protected] Everything will be delivered and reported.