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Abkhazia, Georgia: “Home”

“There are many houses like this in Sukhumi. An echo of war. [image source]

Now that everyone seems to be talking (RUS) about an impending war over Abkhazia, in spite of Germany's best efforts (see the latest news here or here), I decided to finally translate this post from a few months ago (RUS) by LiveJournal blogger cyxymu (the blog's name uses letters of the Latin alphabet to spell out the name of Sukhumi, Abkhazia's capital, as it looks in Cyrillic), a Georgian who spent his childhood in Abkhazia but now lives in Tbilisi, having become an “internally displaced person” (IDP) during the hostilities in the early 1990s.

Here is cyxymu‘s post, titled “Home“:

Last night I dreamed about my grandfather's house. I hadn't dreamed about it in a long time, and it was amazing to find myself back in my childhood.

Most of the time I spent in Sukhumi I lived in that house, I knew all of its nooks and crannies, had secret hiding places and places to be alone and dream…

I dreamed that I was climbing the stairs to the attic, and it was so nice to listen to the rain fall up there. My brother and I went up there a lot and listened to thunderstorms, you could hear the branches banging against the corrugated roof, the rain pounding the tile and flowing down the gutter.

I also liked to hide in the garage, my brother and I had our headquarters there, the garage had a metal roof and the rain would pound on it really hard…

Sometimes when the Besletka [river] would rise during a rainstorm, it would start to flood. The water would pour into the cellar, and then we had to save our supplies ) heroism was rewarded with the jam that grandmother made.

In the cellar we had hiding places where we hid all sorts of things, even just before we left, we hid an optical sight that I had found that very day. In the back of the house was a chicken coop, and a rooster woke us up every morning as he summoned the sun to rise. Sometimes rats would get into the chicken coop, and I would hunt them with a small-caliber Geco. That's what I wanted the sight for.

In the garden grew everything necessary for human life: two types of pears, apples (champagne and winter), persimmons, green springtime plums [tkemali], plums, [feijoa], [medlar], figs and two kinds of cherries. I planted the peaches with my own hands. And tomatoes, cucumbers, raspberries, strawberries (though the strawberries often went bad, since we had very damp earth). The cucumbers liked to climb up on the raspberries, and we sometimes missed a cucumber, since we couldn't always see them in the greenery, and it would grow into a big, yellow cucumber. Then grandpa would say, “Well, it's OK, we'll use it for seeds next year.”

Every spring he would start the seeds first in cans, then he would replant them into wooden crates, and only then into glass hot-houses. And when the tomatoes grew tall, grandpa and I strung nets over them, so that the pears wouldn't fall on the tomatoes when they ripened.

During [the war], when an Abkhazian shell hit next door, a bit of shrapnel took down a branch of the champagne apple tree as wide as your arm, some of the other trees lost limbs also, and I kept saying that it was the trees that protected us…

Shrapnel chopped up the whole house then, pieces flew in the window of the room where grandpa and grandma slept, miraculously not touching them, lots of bits penetrated the walls, tore the roof apart, knocked out all the windows in the house… But we didn't go move into an Abkhazian's house, instead we put in new glass and fixed the roof (patched the holes). Thinking ahead, we stuck crosses of white paper tape on the windows…

My heart aches for that house more than any other, in spite of the fact that we had nicer houses and apartments in Sukhumi. My heart stayed behind in that house.

And more than anything I can't forgive myself for leaving behind my grandpa and grandma – when I took my parents out of Sukhumi, I was hoping to return in a couple of days.

And no one from my family was able to make it to Sukhumi for my grandpa and grandma's funerals. We simply weren't allowed to return.

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