There is a war behind my country’s border. That’s where blameless people die. They are raped, beaten, tortured, and murdered. They bury them in pits. They don’t sign the graves. They leave the bodies to worms and documenters of war crimes. They will take the pictures that we will see later. Maybe also prosecutors, probably from The Hague. Those responsible will not be judged; justice will not be served.
There is nothing to look for abroad in my country. People who sought refuge came to us. We showed Christian hospitality, reserved only for special occasions. Not everyone deserves it. Not everyone can receive it. Not everyone will receive it. It’s all dependent, because it’s dependent on our own vision. It depends on the economic situation, on the context, on the market, on society, on the government, on the inflation rate. Everything is dependent, everything can be predicted.
And yet no one predicted that so many people would come. That the train stations would not hold. That refugees would have to pay to pee. That they would need diapers. That we would want to help. That they will destroy the cities. Someone mentioned it—there would be war, they would attack. We had hope; it was crumbling in our hands, but the fool would not let even a crumb pass. We will collect everything, put it together, and feed ourselves with translations. No one will taste it, but everyone will be full.
Immoderate in eating and drinking. We’ll binge on hope and get drunk on helplessness. Then we will put on our shoes and go to work. Some will have dirty ones because they live outside the city. Others will have clean ones, as if out of a box. These are the shoes in which one walks on concrete and cobblestones. Each man views the war through the prism of the phone in his hand. He puts on the clean or dirty shoes in which he walks across the flat sidewalks. He doesn’t encounter a rocket stuck in the ground or his dead neighbor. He watches from a distance, and then feels so strongly and so much… great compassion! The greatest in the world! He throws himself into helping, gives himself, his time and his health. He is a hero. Others will not manage without him. He has to help.
And I don’t have to; I can’t. I am sitting here, in a safe space. I have a roof over my head, water, and electricity. I sleep in a warm bed. I drink coffee in the morning and then sit down or get up to do my chores. Those around me are those I love. They love me. My mind is at peace. My needs are met. I have some money, my desires are satisfied. I am a hypocrite. I call for help, I cannot give it myself.
There is a war behind my country’s border. Spring has come; the trees are turning green. There is more and more sunshine. Everyone is afraid that tomorrow there will be war in our country. I am sickened, bursting with hope, sweating with helplessness. What used to be important is losing meaning today. Spring has come. It’s time to go for a walk.
Words: Zuza Piwowar
Transl.: Ewa Kossakowska