About Houses & Photos… And Suddenly I Understand

NEW – August 15, 2022

I’ve probably been in dozens of other people’s houses whose inhabitants were expelled by the war. In Mariupol, we were advancing on the industrial zone and it was impossible to invade privacy, but earlier, in 2015-2019, I was in a lot of private houses. Now I’ve had a chance to move into an abandoned dwelling again.

The neighbouring house has been smashed by some large shell. An old photo album is lying around. For some reason I like to look at old albums, although there is nothing special about them. Some grandfathers and grandmothers with stern stone faces. Our ancestors suffered a lot and worked hard, that’s why there is some kind of concentration on their faces.

… A group photo in identical clothes near palm trees. Caption: “Sochi.1952”. Children… Photo near the house that is now destroyed. Apparently, somewhere in the 60s. People would have lost their f*cking mind if they had known then that their house, which they built instead of a post-war dugout, would be destroyed during a Russian-Ukrainian war. (They ask me not to swear, but I do not know how to convey in ordinary language the state of the owners of the house who learned this in the year 1965).

The son’s wedding. 1980s. Relatives. A bride in a hat with a veil. He’s in a suit. Still black and white photos. Colour photos came in the 90s. Polaroid. The women are heavily and aggressively painted, as if they all want to be like the group “KISS”. Sheer devilry.

.. Suddenly I realise that people were not the owners of the house, but their whole life revolved around it. They couldn’t leave it and tried to add something, finish it, build another shed… It seemed that if one still adds an extension, then that’s exactly all! Life was a success and one can relax! From generation to generation, people have worked at home. The furniture of the well-fed on credit “noughties”, in the barn – old. In another shed, the furniture is even older. They don’t throw it away – it is supposed to come in handy sometime.

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Nothing came in handy. The house is broken. In the garden there is a pit with empty aid boxes. The branches of the apple tree are broken by the equipment that was masked here…

I remembered the Gospel of Luke: “And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.

But God said to him: ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own all the things you have prepared?'” (12:19-20).

Vladlen Tatarsky

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