“Did he have a tryzub on his neck? And a cat-samurai tattoo on his leg?” the father is asking through his tears. His grief can’t fit in the yard of the morgue.
The military commissar walks away as far as he can, the smell is unbearable, and he lights up a cigarette. At the same time the driver is trying to get a body on a gurney, the father rushes to help with his bare hands and drags the black bag with maggots scurrying around on top of it. I’ve seen this before, but for him, besides the grief, such a sight was an unbelievable shock — his son was only 19.
The man is crying so desperately that even Oleh breaks his steely silence.
The funeral is today at 12 am. We changed our route to get there on time and firstly drove to the Sumy region instead of Nizhyn [a city in the Chernihiv region — Ed.] or Kyiv. This is the only combatant out of fourteen whose name I knew from the beginning of the trip. The driver took the body of the deceased Maksym at night because it just hadn’t been unloaded out of the refrigerator. Oleh and his colleague from the other crew divided the number of bodies, my driver arranged documents for all 19 people, but the colleague took one body less. As soon as Oleg found this out, at night, he returned for the deceased Maksym. And finally, the Hero is home, even I feel relief because the father has been calling me since yesterday morning, he called in the evening and today once again, he still had the glimmer of hope that this is a mistake, that he would open the bag and there would be no tryzub on the neck.
Behind every nameless hero in the black bag, there is a story of unfulfilled dreams.
“Before going to the front, Maksym bought a motorcycle. He didn’t even smell the diesel fuel,” the father said. “Maksym simply didn’t have time.”
I am writing this and thinking what is the aim of my post. To cause someone’s emotion? To remind the losses of war?
Don't put off your life for later. Don’t put off anything that can make you happy today. Life must conquer death. Don’t be afraid and don’t be ashamed of your joy.
Ukrainian Text by Myroslava Ilto, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Jul 28, 2022