Sasha looks like a hero from Gaidar’s tales. Or perhaps not Gaidar’s, but there is something about him that’s positive and attractive. The pressed lips, the modest but penetrating gaze.
A beautiful boy with a terrible fate.
Sasha lives in Lugansk with his grandmother Taisiya. His mother was wounded by a shell fragment in 2014. They managed to put her entrails back together at the hospital, but she died two years later. He hasn’t seen his father for many years but he has not formally abandoned him and is not about to. Therefore Taisiya cannot obtain any child care benefits. She herself was in a hospital not too long ago following a stroke, with two days in intensive care.
Taisiya Pavlovna went to wash floors in the neighboring stairwell. She had no money, the tiny Lugansk pension is not enough, and she also has to feed her grandson who lives with her. Neighbors pay her 400 rubles a month for this work, supplementing her tiny budget.
The day was hot, very much so. The Lugansk heat can be treacherous. This is one of the hottest steppe heats there is. On that day it was 45 degrees Celsius in the shade–or about 120 Fahrenheit. She went home right after washing. She felt fine, only a little uneasy. She laid down in her apartment, closed her eyes, and woke up naked surrounded by whilte walls. And butterflies before her eyes. She spent a day unconscious in intensive care. She was saved by her grandson Sasha. Another hour and she’d have been past saving. But the boy felt something–he came home earlier than usual and found her unconscious.
Anya came under fire during the summer of ’14 when she was on the way to her dacha near Lugansk to dig up some potatoes. She lived in a five-story apartment block and hid in the cellar with broken plumbing during shelling. Shops were closed, there was no electricity or phone service. The city was in isolation. After the city was being “executed” using all manner of Ukrainian artillery, Tanya’s, her son’s Sasha’s, and her mom’s Taisiya Ivanovna’s money and food ran out. They held out as long as they could, it was dangerous to go anywhere. The dacha was about 1km from where “their”–Ukrainian–positions.
August 26 was surprisingly quiet. The woman and her son managed to dig up potatoes before the shelling started. Actually, it wasn’t really shelling, just one shell. Its fragment cut open Anya’s belly and her entrails fell out while her 8 year old son watched. The girl was conscious the whole time. The boy screamed the whole time “please help, they killed mom!”. A guard came running in response. He collected the entrails as best he could, put them back inside, wrapped it all up with plastic, and took to the hospital. She survived and, suffering from extreme pain, she lived for another two years while constantly taking strong pain medications.