Since the international political community adopted, borrowed or stole an entire terminology based on ‘my’ world, the world of theater, art, “art-ifice” and so on (i.e. “narrative”, “players”, “the actors in this arena” and quite frankly put “on the political stage”, I feel it more than relevant to publish a magnificent text written by a dear dear friend of mine (born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine), who has recently returned to her home town after 6 years of living in New York. Here is Masha Froliak’s text:
Ukraine, my way back
I was finally on a flight NY- Kiev, the distance of ordinary 5000 miles (9 hours flight) was much grander for me. The distance that I had to overcome was 6 years long. It was 6 years of not being home! Anticipation and anxiety I contained with Valerian pills and wine that the austere Austrian stewardess was kind to supply me with. The company of a Greek woman named Helena sitting next to me was distracting enough as well. She was a historian and archeologist, specializing in Greek coins. Somewhere in between her long monologues about Ukrainian history and the revolution (which prompted me to pop more valerian pills) she said something that left a deep trace in my mind. And, please, no pun intended. She said:
There are two sides to every coin.
The fog was so heavy that I didn’t even realize that the plane had landed. It was moments before I could finally hug my family (how many times did I dream about it!). And I kept thinking- no tears! No tears! But when we did see each other there were no tears. It was pure shock! I ended up in their embrace but even that seemed awkward.
But now you’re in Kiev: one of the central plateaus of the world’s players and liars. From Putin downwards. It’s a bad version of a circus.
I totally understand your despair, your solitude yet, a sense of returning home which is so totally different from what you’re used to. – I read in my email
Yes, my home felt different and it was a scary feeling. Everything changed- from the wallpaper in my room to the air Ukrainians are breathing – it became heavier! But that should be of no surprise. How can it not be different if there is war (legitimately called antiterrorist operation) and the country is torn ?!
My parents turn on the TV and the news is all too true and devastating. Even Western media, which I always relied on, didn’t project the extent of horrid conditions and chaos in which most Ukrainians currently live. It is incredible that in the 21 century somewhere in the center of Europe people die from starvation. Constant disruptions in electricity in most cities (up to 8 hours a day!), huge increase in prices, complete poverty caused by you name it and of course thousands of people who died and continue to die every day in the East. (soldiers from both the army and volunteers have little or no support of their own country for which they stand!). And so on and so on…
Back in the summer of 1994 my father and I were on our way to visit my grandmother who lives close to the Polish border. It was a ten hours drive. While on some highway (where we appeared to be the only car) we were suddenly passed by dozens of police cars and big trucks. At the same time we were ordered to stop over a loudspeaker. A police officer looked angrily at my father’s driver’s license and threw it back into his face. What are you doing here, the whole world is watching us, he said. It turned out that all the trucks were full of rockets and nuclear weapons that were driven away. Yes, it was the year when Ukraine became a non-nuclear weapon state.
Could it have been different?
(the question in mind that has no answer) as I was walking down Maidan Nezalezhnosti looking at the cracks and sudden breaks in the pavement. These cracks were caused by the weight of people that stood there during the revolution, by the fighting, and by the impact of all the Molotov coctails and cobblestones and bullets. I was fascinated by the f r a g i l i t y of things.
PS: her blog is linked to mine: http://mashafroliak.wordpress.com