By Svetlana Alexievich
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Additional resources for Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future
No, I won’t! I’m frightened of being apart from him for just a day. We were walking down the street, and I felt myself falling. That was my first stroke. It happened in the street. ’ ‘No, you stand right by me. ’ And I grabbed his arm. I don’t remember the rest. Opened my eyes in the hospital. I grabbed Andrey’s arm so hard that the doctors could barely unclench my fingers. His arm was blue for ages after. Now, whenever we leave the house, he says, ‘Mummy, don’t grab me by the arm. ’ He is poorly too: does two weeks at school, then two at home seeing the doctor.
This time there was no dragging me away. I stayed with him right to the grave. Though I can’t remember the coffin, just a big plastic sack. ’ Yes! They put him in his dress uniform, with the service cap on his chest. They didn’t pick any shoes out because his feet were too swollen. He had balloons for legs. They had to slit the dress uniform too, they couldn’t pull it on his mess of a body. All just one gory wound. The last two days at the hospital, I’d lift his arm and the bone would be all wobbly, hanging loose, the tissue falling away from it.
Vasya is all in white, and he’s calling Natasha’s name. Our little girl, who still hadn’t been born. She is big already, and I am puzzled at how she’s grown so much. He is tossing her up to the ceiling; they are laughing. I am watching them and thinking how simple happiness is. How simple! And later there was another dream. Vasya and I were wading through water. We kept walking on and on. He must have been asking me not to cry. He was sending me a sign from there. Up above. ) Two months later, I travelled to Moscow.
Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future by Svetlana Alexievich