“I wake up at night – as if someone is crying”: an excerpt from the book “War is not a woman’s face”

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In the morning a phone call: “We do not know you… But I came from the Crimea, I’m calling from the train station. Is it far from you? I want to tell you my war… ».


And my girlfriend and I were going to the park. Ride the carousel. How to explain to a six-year-old man what I do. She recently asked me, “What is war?” How to answer… I want to let her into this world with a tender heart and I teach that you can’t just pick a flower. It’s a pity to crush a ladybug, tear off a dragonfly’s wing. And how to explain the war to the child? Explain death? Answer the question: why are they killing there? They kill even little ones like her. We adults, as if in collusion. We understand what we are talking about. And here – children? After the war, my parents once explained it to me, and I can no longer explain it to my child. Find the words. We like war less and less, we find it increasingly difficult to justify it. For us, it’s just murder. Anyway, for me it is so.

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To write such a book about war would make you sick of war, and the very thought of it would be disgusting. Insane. The generals themselves would be sick…

My male friends (unlike my girlfriends) are stunned by this “feminine” logic. And again I hear the “male” argument: “You were not at war.” Or maybe it’s good: I don’t know the passion of hatred, I have normal eyesight. Non-military, unmanly.

In optics, there is the concept of “brightness” – the ability of the lens to better capture the captured image. So, women’s memory of the war is the most “bright” in the tension of feelings, in pain. I would even say that “women’s” war is worse than “men’s”. Men hide behind history, behind facts, war captures them as action and confrontation of ideas, different interests, and women are captivated by feelings. And still – men from the childhood prepare that they, probably, should have to shoot. Women are not taught this… they were not going to do this work… And they remember another, and they remember differently. Able to see closed to men. I will repeat once again: their war is with the smell, with the color, with the detailed world of existence: “they gave us things, we sewed skirts from them”; “In the military enlistment office she went to one door in a dress, and in the other she came out in trousers and a tunic, her braid was cut off, there was one bang left on her head…”; “The Germans shot the village and left… We came to that place: trampled yellow sand, and on top – one children’s shoe…”. I have been warned many times (especially male writers): “Women come up with something for you. They are writing. ” But I was convinced: this can not be invented. Someone write off? If this can be written off, then only in life, she alone has such a fantasy.

No matter what women say, they always have the idea that war is first and foremost murder, and then hard work. And then – and just ordinary life: singing, falling in love, curling irons…

At the center is always how unbearable and unwilling to die. And even more unbearable and more reluctant to kill, because a woman gives life. Darit. He wears it in himself for a long time, nurses it. I realized that it was harder for women to kill.

* * *

Men… They are reluctant to let women into their world, into their territory.

She was looking for a woman at the Minsk Tractor Plant, she served as a sniper. She was a famous sniper. It was written about more than once in the front-line newspapers. Her friends gave me a home phone number in Moscow, but it was old. My last name was also recorded maiden name. I went to the factory, where, as I knew, she works in the personnel department, and heard from the men (the director of the plant and the head of the personnel department): “Are there not enough men? Why do you need these women’s stories. Women’s fantasies… ». The men were afraid that the women would tell the wrong story.

Was in the same family… Husband and wife fought. They met at the front and got married there: “We celebrated our wedding in the trench. Before the fight. And I sewed a white dress for myself from a German parachute. ” He is a machine gunner, she is a liaison. The man immediately sent the woman to the kitchen: “You cook us something.” The kettle has already boiled and the sandwiches have been cut, she sat down next to us, her husband immediately picked her up: “Where are the strawberries? Where is our country hotel? ” After my persistent request, he reluctantly gave up his place with the words: “Tell me how I taught you. Without tears and women’s trifles: I wanted to be beautiful, I cried when my braid was cut off. ” Later, she whispered to me: “I studied the volume” History of the Great Patriotic War “with me all night. He was afraid for me. And now I’m worried that I won’t remember. Not as it should be. “

This has happened more than once, not in one house.

Yes, they cry a lot. They shout. After I leave, they swallow heart pills. Call an ambulance. But they still ask: “You come. Be sure to come. We were silent for so long. Forty years of silence… »

I understand that crying and screaming cannot be treated, otherwise the main thing will not be crying or screaming, but treatment. Literature will remain instead of life. Such is the material, the temperature of this material. Constantly goes beyond scale. Man is most visible and opens up in war and, perhaps, in love. To the deepest depths, to the subcutaneous layers. In the face of death, all ideas fade, and an incomprehensible eternity opens up, for which no one is ready. We still live in history, not in space.

Several times I received a text sent for reading with the postscript: “You don’t need to talk about trifles… Write about our great Victory« “. And the “little things” are the main thing for me – the warmth and clarity of life: the left bangs instead of braids, hot pots of porridge and soup, which no one has – out of a hundred people returned after the battle, seven; or how they couldn’t go to the bazaar after the war and look at the red meat rows… Even the red calico… “Ah, you’re good, it’s been forty years, and you won’t find anything red in my house. I hate red after the war! ”


I listen when they speak… I listen when they are silent… Both words and silence are a text for me.

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– This is not for print, for you… Those who were older… They sat on the train pensive… Sad. I remember one major talking to me at night when everyone was asleep about Stalin. He drank heavily and dared, he confessed that his father had been in the camp for ten years, without the right to correspond. Whether he is alive or not is unknown. This major uttered terrible words: “I want to defend the Motherland, but I do not want to defend this traitor to the revolution – Stalin.” I have never heard such words… I was scared. Fortunately, he disappeared in the morning. Probably released…

– I’ll tell you a secret… I was friends with Oksana, she was from Ukraine. For the first time I heard from her about the terrible famine in Ukraine. The Holodomor. There was no frog or mouse to be found – everyone ate. Half the people died in their village. All her younger brothers and father and mother died, and she escaped by stealing horse manure and eating it at night on a collective farm stable. No one could eat it, and she ate: “Warm does not get into your mouth, and cold can. Better frozen, it smells like hay. ” I said: “Oksana, Comrade Stalin is fighting. It kills pests, but there are many. ” “No,” she replied, “you are stupid.” My father was a history teacher, he told me: “Someday Comrade Stalin will answer for his crimes…”

At night I lay and thought: what if Oksana is the enemy? A spy? What to do? Two days later she died in battle. She has no relatives left, no one to send a funeral…

This topic is touched upon carefully and rarely. They are still paralyzed not only by Stalinist hypnosis and fear, but also by their former faith. They can’t yet fall out of love with what they loved. Courage in war and courage in thought are two different courages. And I thought it was the same thing.


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From what censorship has thrown out

“I’ll wake up at night now… As if someone is well… crying next to… I’m at war…

We retreat… Behind Smolensk, a woman brings me her dress, I manage to change clothes. I go alone… among the men. Then I was in pants, and then I go in a summer dress. I suddenly started these things… Women’s… It used to start, probably, from unrest. From feelings, from resentment. Where will you find what? Shame on you! How ashamed I was! Under the bushes, in the ditches, in the woods on the stumps slept. There were so many of us that there was not enough space for everyone in the forest. We walked confused, deceived, no longer trusting anyone… Where are our aircraft, where are our tanks? What flies, crawls, thunders – all German.

That’s how I was captured. On the last day before the captivity, she broke both her legs… She was lying and urinating under herself… I don’t know how hard she crawled into the woods at night. Randomly picked up by guerrillas….

I feel sorry for those who read this book and who do not read it… “

“I was on night duty… I went to the ward for the seriously injured. The captain is lying… The doctors warned me before duty that he would die at night. It won’t last until morning… I ask him: “Well, how? How can I help you? ” I will never forget… He suddenly smiled, such a bright smile on his exhausted face: “Unbutton your robe… Show me your breasts… I haven’t seen my wife for a long time…”. I was confused, I hadn’t even kissed yet. I answered him there. She ran away and returned an hour later.

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He was lying dead. And that smile on his face… “

“Near Kerch… At night we went on a barge under fire. The bow caught fire… The fire spread across the deck. Ammunition exploded… Powerful explosion! An explosion of such force that the barge tilted to the right and began to sink. And the shore is not far, we understand that the shore is somewhere nearby, and the soldiers threw themselves into the water. Machine guns rang out from the shore. Screams, moans, mat… I swam well, I wanted to save at least one. At least one wounded… This is water, not land – a wounded person will die immediately. Will go to the bottom… I hear – someone nearby will emerge upstairs, then go under water again. Upstairs – under water. I caught the moment, grabbed it… Something cold, slippery… I decided it was wounded, and his clothes were torn off by an explosion. Because I’m naked myself… I stayed in my underwear… Darkness. Prick your eyes out. Around: “Eh! Ah-ya-ya! ” And mate… I somehow got to the shore with him… A rocket erupted in the sky just at that moment, and I saw that I had pulled a big wounded fish. The fish is large, with human growth. Beluga… She’s dying… I fell next to her and broke such a three-story mat. I cried out of resentment… And from the fact that everyone suffers… »

“We came out of the environment… Wherever we go – the Germans are everywhere. We decide: in the morning we will break through with the fight. All the same we will perish, so it is better to perish with dignity. In battle. We had three girls. They came at night to everyone who could… Not everyone, of course, was capable. Nerves, you know. Such a thing… Everyone was preparing to die…

Survived in the morning units… Few… Well, seven people, and there were fifty, if not more. The Germans cut down with machine guns… I remember those girls with gratitude. Not a single morning was found alive… Never met again… »

From a conversation with the censor

– Who will go to war after such books? You humiliate a woman with primitive naturalism. The woman-heroine. You are debunking. Make her an ordinary woman. Female. And they are our saints.

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– Our heroism is sterile, it does not want to take into account either physiology or biology. You don’t believe him. And not only the spirit was tested, but also the body. Material shell.

“Where did you get these thoughts?” Other people’s thoughts. Not Soviet. You laugh at those in mass graves. Remarks have been read… Remarkism will not work for us. Soviet woman is not an animal…

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