Posted by: Matt | July 9, 2007

From the Pages of Voices from Chernobyl

“He started to change–every day I met a brand-new person.  The burns started to come to the surface.  In his mouth, on his tongue, his cheeks–at first there were little lesions, and then they grew.  It came off in layers–as white film… the color of his face… his body… blue… red… gray-brown.  And it’s all so very mine!  It’s impossible to describe! It’s impossible to write down!  And even to get over.  The only thing that saved me was it happened so fast; there wasn’t any time to think, there wasn’t any time to cry.”

“There used to be Communism instead of God, but now there’s just God.  So we pray.”

“Why did that Chernobyl break down?  Some people say, It was the scientist’s fault.  They grabbed God by the beard, and now he’s laughing.  But we’re the ones who pay for it.”

“Don’t write about the wonders of Soviet heroism.  They existed–and they really were wonders.  But first there had to be incompetence, negligence, and only after those did you get wonders:  covering the embrasure, throwing yourself in front of a machine gun.  But that those orders should never have been given, that there shouldn’t have been any need, no one writes about that.  They flung us there, like sand onto the reactor.  Every day they’d put out a new ‘Action Update’: ‘men are working courageously and selflessly,’ ‘we will survive and triumph.'”

“The only thing that remained behind the wire was the land.  And the graves.  And our health. And our faith.  Or my faith.”

“This level of lying, this incredible level, with which Chernobyl is connected in our minds, was comparable only to the level of lies during the big war.”

“If I’d known he’d get sick I’d have closed all the doors, I’d have stood in the doorway.  I’d have locked the doors with all the locks we had.”

“That’s the only way we know how to do it, with the sword–Kalashnikov instead of the word.”

“I know just one thing:  I’ll never be happy again.”

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