People like Sofia make an impression. They do, because they believe in a better future when there are no chances for one. Or perhaps they don’t believe, but act in such a way that nobody suspects otherwise.
Her room is a dark lair with no light. Or, rather, there is light, but when you are there you think you are somewhere deep underground, with the only light coming from candles.
When we came to visit, we walked down long and cold catacomb-like corridors, until we entered a room redolent of urine and hidden from the world behind a rug.
The first thing you notice when seeing this woman is her voice.
Firm, self-assured, and combative.
Seller ladies at the markets talk like that when they sell you jeans which you absolutely do not need but buy anyway.
Very businesslike, though weakened.
–Oy, Lena, good to see you! Dunya? Dunya, thank you! Dunya, please excuse the odor.
Sofia needs chemo, but her hemoglobin too low for it. They are trying to raise it, but without success.
–Very well, first chemo, then marriage! That’s my plan–chemo, and the tumor will shrink. This may sound like nonsense, but I think that’s what will happen. It will shrink and then they’ll cut it out. I’ll be like new.
And she giggles. We mumble something encouraging and laugh. We try to.
–You wouldn’t even guess. But I always had money. I worked at the market, sold leather footwear.
It couldn’t be any other way.
She speaks with assurance, fully knowing what she says. And she doesn’t let you feel a sense of hopelessness even for a second. Even though one wants to run away in terror. Because this poor woman is alone, in a cold house.
And there is the powerful odor of urine–so powerful that you can’t get used to it at all, though one usually gets used to a smell after five minutes.
Her house is divided into several parts, and the neighbors are not only not helping her, but have no contact with her at all.
–People can be like that. Anzhelka came to visit (the only person who helps her, who lives across the street), and the neighbors were asking–who is this, what are they doing here? So I tell them–they are PEOPLE, please get acquainted.
–It’s my own fault, I should have gone as soon as problems started, I’d have gotten radiation treatment. But I let it all get worse…I’d be running now. It’s my own fault. But that’s fine, I have my own plan. Chemo, surgery.
And she laughs again.
She lives alone with her daughter. Her older sister is somewhere in Moscow. The younger lives nearby but never visits. They don’t get along. She’s in bed nearly all the time. Gets help from daughter or from Anzhela. She’s the one who brought the heater–otherwise they’d have frozen. They live off daughter’s social benefits, about 2000 rubles. And that’s all.
–Your sister knows what’s happening?
–She does. Oy, Dunya. You know, people can be like that. Our mother also had cancer, died at the age of 34. I was 7. The middle of three sisters.
–What about her husband?
–Husband? He’s a loser, he got lost as soon as he found out she had cancer.
–Left the three of you behind?
–Yes, he left us with the mother. She’s Russian, and he’s from Azerbaijan. Apparently he ran off home. To hell with that dirtbag. Even though he’s still registered here. How many years have passed…
–Is the older sister helping?
–Yes, she’s terrific, she even sent Alinka and me 5 thousand rubles.
We look at one another…
–If I die, I want Alinka to go to my cousin from Norilsk. I think she won’t fail me…Although I haven’t told her about that, I don’t think she’ll refuse. One doesn’t refuse cousins…
The biggest problem here is that her hemoglobin is around 60 regardless of all the food and preparations we bring her. Which is why she can’t undergo chemo. Therefore while earlier she still had a chance, now the doctors say it’s hopeless…
But Sofia does not give in.
“Chemo, then marriage.”
And she laughs.
Big thanks to everyone who sent money for Sofia, separate thanks to Waldemar from the German Humanitarian Battalion Donbass group. Thanks to everyone who continues to send us money, which allows us to keep helping the needy such as Sofia.
If you want to help the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebook, V Kontakte, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Paypal address: email@example.com.