But half of the car is full of liquid food items for the ill who can’t eat solid foods.
–Got a packing list?
–Are you serious?!?!?!
Incidentally, nearly all of the boxes of bottles are at the bottom, covered with baby bodysuits and caps. There is a lot of it. The car us groaning under the weight.
Lena Filippova sent the food for the bedridden ill. The expiration date is in September, therefore they took a chance on getting it across the border. Izvarino almost never inspected us closely. We were always lucky. But the waiting time there is now several hours, due to the long line of vehicles awaiting clearance.
So now all the car’s contents are on the asphalt, and all the corners have been checked using metal detectors. The customs and border guard officials are walking around all the junk, poking it with their fingers.
–What’s this? Unpack it. And this?
The customs officer takes out a rubber doll and a child’s sweater, uncovering 10 bottles underneath. I pre-empt him:
–Each of these bottles costs 450 rubles! And in LPR they are even more expensive, and people don’t have money for them.
–So maybe they should buy something else?
Here I get angry:
–They can’t buy something else.
Nearly all this food is for the girl Vika for whom it’s a matter of life and death. Each bottle represents a meal. She can’t eat anything else. The family doesn’t have the money. My voice cracking, I look for the package with feeding probes and syringes to show him what I’m talking about. A wheelchair is right next to it. The customs officer acquiesces.
–Fine. What’s this? Also food?
–Are you carrying medicines, painkillers, and prescription drugs?
–Of course not!
My voice did not waver–just before our visit, both Zhenya and I had a range of illnesses. Being very conscientious and having faith in the miracle-working power of modern medicine, we accidentally took them along by the bag. Just in case. You never know what might happen in a warzone. And if you don’t need it, someone else might. Right?
The medicines were also at the bottom, under diapers and clothes.
The customs officer approached each of the packets while my heart kept descending into my stomach.
About a year ago Lera, a girl we know, donated a pile of new shirts and pants. Still in factory packaging. It was impossible to take them across in a single trip. We’ve taking a few on every trip since then. They have almost become a symbol of our visits.
Zhenya suspects they multiply by cell division in his garage, since they don’t seem to be disappearing.
–Why so many of them?
The shirts were pressed into food parcels. They were coming out of all nooks and crannies, and they looked even more dubious next to the bottles.
–If you want, we can leave them with you.
–Fine, you can go.
The rest of the stuff was not inspected.
I don’t know whether we were saved by the shirts or the heads three times in a row, but Stirlitz was never this close to a failure.
Dear Donbass, we are back.