At the age of 17, I went to see a girlfriend in Malta during the summer after completing the first year. We were invited by a family for a supper. We spent the evening by a pool with a fancy table around which many notables from this tiny nation were sitting. They were related to the girlfriend’s husband, and they were old enough to be my parents and even grandparents. And then they suddenly started to speak about World War 2.
It all ended with my girlfriend tearing me away from the Maltese aristocracy which couldn’t understand what triggered me. I was seventeen, and it was the first time I heard that USSR played only a minor role in that war. They were around, they helped bring victory closer.
My father always said one should write right away. When the impressions are fresh, when it still hurts, and when it’s still with you.
That’s the truth.
There is much that I haven’t written down. Even for myself, even when I had the strength.
For example, I did not write about accidents.
It would seem they are trivial. But I didn’t write because of my mother. We carefully tried to conceal from her what happened. There were hints, there were euphemisms, but never a direct description.
When people call me a philanthropist, I get angry.
I also don’t like terms “humanitarian worker” and “volunteer”.
These worlds are absolutely alien to me, even though by and large they do refer to me.
But today I was able to figure out what makes me angry.
I wanted to become a writer during the last 10 years of my life. My father wrote, grandmother wrote, and I never planned it or saw myself in it.
My school compositions are horrible, to say the least. I wrote poorly and my writing is still bereft of talent. My phrases are awkward, and my texts full of repetition and endless inversions. When I reread my posts after a while, I want to destroy or rewrite them. But I give up and write something new.
I began helping the Donbass in 2014, when I and my friends, thanks to you, my readers and online contacts, brought lots of food to Pervomaysk in a big truck. In 2014, the city was in a catastrophic condition, and it literally suffered from hunger. It was cut off from the rest of LPR and found itself in a humanitarian blockade, where even OSCE wouldn’t go. People lived in cellars and bomb shelters, shops were closed, and there was nothing to eat. Only communal cafeterias worked, which fed people for free. We kept returning until the summer of ’15, about once every three weeks, with food for these cafeterias. Then the situation improved, the cafeterias were closed, so we stopped our visits. Although in my view such cafeterias are still needed nearly everywhere in the LPR. For the needy. There are many single elderly, multi-child families, and simply needy individuals who are trying to ends meet and suffer from poor nutrition.
But that’s not what this post is about.
It’s about how we started with delivering food for lots of people. I never imagined I’d become an aid coordinating center of sorts.
I couldn’t wrap my head around it even during our first visit in a car loaded with food and clothes. I felt this was a one-time action, but people continued to turn to me and that’s how it came to be. The Little Hirosima blog helped, even though I created it for something entirely different. With time, our aid became targeted–we help those who are in poor straits, who can’t cope on their own.
Here’s the thing.
I wrote sometime ago that publishers are ready to publish my book about the Donbass titled “People Here” at their own expense, but without photos. They’d publish it with photos only if I covered the cost. Therefore I abandoned that idea, and wrote about it on the blog. On the same day, I received messages from several people asking how much it would cost to publish the book with photos, and offered their financial aid.
A year and a half ago I wrote a book which was nominated for the National Bestseller prize.
A book about the Donbass titled “People Here” turned out to be rather small–I wrote it in a hurry to make the award deadline. Only half the planned size. Whole chapters were cut and removed.
Then I put the book away and started to work with publishers.
Nearly all of them said: it’s small, write more.
I spent a year and a half wrestling with it, not knowing what to do. To write more, to self-publish, or I don’t know what.
A sensation at RIA: “German actress and singer of Hungarian extraction Marika Rekk turned out to be a Soviet intelligence agent.” One fact concerning my family drew attention in that story.
“The intelligence network included about 35 agents, including bankers, military, civil servants, and also the actress Olga Chekhova.”
In actuality, there were many discussions concerning the participation of Olga Chekhova–a famous actress and Hitler’s favorite, a nephew of Olga Knipper-Chekhova (the wife of the great writer)–in Soviet intelligence operations. There were TV shows, movies, books. But no actual documents confirming these stories. Sudoplatov’s famous book about Olga as intelligence agent had no references to actual documents. I was even contacted by intelligence historians in order to confirm these stories. Specialists thought this was simply a beautiful legend and fairy tale, pleasing the public and spread by the media.
The “actress-agent legend” also mentioned, among others, Olga’s brother, Lev Knipper, a famous Soviet composer, who was supposed to have participated in the mission to kill Hitler. Little is known about his role. But it is known that he went to Germany more than once to visit his sister, to deliver something, and have some meetings. But I know this only from generally available sources.
That was my grandfather.
Zhenya sent me a video about me.
You know, I subscribe to some pretty cool authors. They are insanely clever and I am madly jealous of them for being able to do so. I hate it when people write in all earnestness. I don’t like pathos. But it’s an irony of fate that my entire blog turned out like that. Stuffy and laden with pathos.
A veritable nightmare.
When, in Lugansk, I went down into my friends’ cellar to pick up a few bags of clothes for the orphans, it fell out and got lodged between the parcels. A shirt sky-blue in color. Very, very bright. For summer wear, with short sleeves. When Papa put it on, it really brought out the blue in his eyes. Once upon a time the went to talk with the bookkeepers, I don’t remember about what, but I remember he put on that dress shirt. The bookkeepers turned into rats who then lined up in front of Niels’ flute. Papa was already almost 60.
I was really afraid to see Papa in the coffin. I went to funerals before, more than once in fact, and they all horrified me. These embalmed bodies, completely devoid of life, with sunken cheeks. These death masks with a pile of artificial garlands.
Looking at a girlfriend’s LiveJournal blog, I was surprised by the number of locked posts. It turned out she acquired an “admirer” who began to harass and persecute her. Banning did not help. She kept seeking out my friend all over the internet, sent personal messages, opened new accounts and kept at it for a long time. The whole thing made no sense, my friend was running a site about kids which contained mainly funny sketches drawn from real life.
I get something similar in comments nearly every day.
This is the other side of humanitarian activity and of running a blog. Although, judging by my friend’s experience, the topic doesn’t matter.