Epistle to Russian Eastern Ukraine:
Martin Luther Dostoievsky
Chauncey Roberts Copyright 2014
I have a dream for you, sick man. I have a dream that you will seek a future not of Russia or the EU but finer a Ukraine for Ukraine. Demand $15 billion from Russia for Eastern Ukraine and $15 billion euros from the EU for Western Ukraine. And when at the end of summer and the families take their children to the first day of school, a fine national tradition, let the children, the promise of tomorrow’s better world, remember the insight and magnanimity in calling for a united independent Ukraine.
Magnanimous means to reach for that greater good, obviously not to be stifled and stagnant in some rosy scenario of Granny (Babushka) about her happiest days in Brezhnev’s time, when she was young and in love. Since then Grandpa (Dedushka) has died of lung cancer and liver cirrhosis, and what remains is for Babushka to face alone the indecency of unbelievably crowded public transportation.
Here comes Babushka! With her bucket of flowers and jars of fresh creamy milk! She looks left and looks right, just knowing the nearest toilet available to her is a public loo another kilometer away…across the icy sidewalks with a wealthy driver horn-honking for her to hurry through intersections while he urgently texts his way through a dreadful vodka hangover.
There goes Babushka! Past a line of older ladies returning empty bottles of their wasted family members, trying to get a little income for the afternoon borscht.
Oh Babushka! If only Putin could get things back on track. When you were invincible and feared by West Germany…all those nuclear and chemical weapons and the neutron bomb! You could have destroyed or taken over West Germany in a moment! The glory, the might and the fear! All those Labour peaceniks like Tony Blair before becoming Margaret Thatcher’s proudest boast and a common war criminal!
Now here comes Babushka finally, her heavy feet and ankles in old worn boots, trudging toward that needed public toilet.
“Give me two hryvnia,” says the smoking, unsmiling restroom attendant—the bossy sort. Well we know how she got her job!
Babushka reaches into her bag for the old change purse. She reaches and searches: It’s missing! At once she knows that no good son-in-law has stolen it for a vodka contribution with the neighbor.
“But I must use this facility,” explains the granny.
“Two hryvnia!” demands the bossy one. “I’m not letting anyone in here for free!”
“My cousin says it’s free in America.”
“This is not America, the most dangerous country in the industrialized world!”
Another water closet patroness, nodding with compassion, hands Bossy the hryvnias for Babushka.
But wait! Now in her stall Babushka raises her dress and shabby coat and removes her undergarments…only to estimate the exact hole in the floor in this squat toilet. She lowers her large derriere, aims, and makes her contribution. Heaven forbid it should hit upon on her shoes again! But then what? Lo! She teeters and falls on the arthritic bad knee. She gasps and groans noisily. She can’t get up.
Pushing this way, rising on both arms—it’s useless. Babushka is simply too heavy to raise herself from the toilet hole.
She cries. She remembers Nicole Kidman clearly sitting on a toilet seat in some movie. Why can’t we have toilet seats everywhere in Eastern Ukraine?
Woe is me! In Slovakia some workers are getting a minimum wage of 2.8 euros per hour plus accommodation and still live in despicable circumstances.
“I want to live as an American!” cries Babushka. “I want my children and grandchildren to earn 10.10 dollars per hour. It’s my dream. No more stealing from granny to buy vodka. Oh woe is me!” Her tears are real.
“Come out of there, you!” shouts Bossyuvska.
“Help me get up,” cries Babushka.
“Well open the door!” yells Bossy, her hand on a dirty old mop. “You can’t expect Putin to solve everything.”
Babushka leaves the ladies room.
“Don’t come back here again,” snaps Bossyuvska. “You should stay home in the kitchen!”
Babushka likes a strong leader. But she doesn’t expect Barack or Hillary to solve everything in the United States either.
There’s no acceptable minimum wage in Slovakia, thinks Babushka. And those Germans don’t really want us! America is too far, too dangerous and the bourgeoisie just struggling to survive. Babushka wants a high minimum wage which the oligarchs could care less about. For proper public toilet seats, including in schools and all restaurants, and for improved transportation where people are not packed like sardines—worse than sardines—Babushka must stand up for herself. Arise Babushka! You great stalwart of the proletariat! Arise to expect more from your government. Arise for free toilets and tennis courts! Why stop at the EU? Eastern Ukraine can do better! And better than Russia with its hovering police presence (rather like the US), mobster gangs (again US lawlessness), and lack of journalistic freedom.
Last year quite a number of Ukrainians in Kiev told me that they didn’t care about the Palestinian issue. It just didn’t matter to them, the self-determination of the Palestinian people. And now with so many needless killings in Kiev last week—much like the Gaza Flotilla Tragedy on a larger scale—it becomes apparent that self-determination must be for all.
It is time for the people of Eastern Ukraine to find in themselves a greater expectation than anyone has ever had of them. A spiritual, character-building deliverance from stagnation and toleration of an inept status quo benefiting only the wealthiest and least humane. May the blood of others purge minds all too closed and negative, sick with indifference.