Sorrow for the Hero



We were standing on top of the barricades overlooking the building of the city hall. Some rooms were still lighted. On Hrushevskogo Street an occasional vehicle drove by. It was quiet around, even too quiet. Suddenly I felt someone touching my hand. I turned round. A young woman stood below. She asked me to help her get on top of the barricades. I gave her a hand and was about to get back to my friends. But she wanted to make a small talk. Her name was Tanya; she was a biochemist with another degree in high technology; a typical extremist, in short. Tanya didn’t come here alone but with some fellows. The guys, however, standing at distance, were hesitating to come closer, as if we were contagious or something. 

Perhaps they’ve heard about the President’s illness. Meanwhile we’re standing on top, having a polite conversation – about Okhmatdyt hospital where she works, and the health care system in general, free medical aid on Maidan, and education, of course. Only gunshots were missing to make the scene completely surreal. I noticed that she wants to ask me something but wouldn’t dare.

“How is it – to be a hero?”, she finally speaks up. “I don’t know”, I honestly answered. Her friends are calling her by name from below. She brushes aside, but the uncomfortable conversation is not getting easier. She obviously feels awkward, it almost looks like she mistook me for somebody else, but now she sees that she was wrong. Guys call her again and she leaves this time – without saying goodbye.
“Glory to Ukraine!”, a familiar shout filled the air , “Glory to Heroes”, – the chorus of voices responded. All but hers.

Oleh Kryshtopa, Ukrainian author and reporter
translated by Sighb Aabb


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