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  • Writer's pictureAnna Kultin

The Cry in the Wilderness

I cannot be silent. Not just because I know Russian mentality very well, or because my Ukrainian friends are locked in small cities trying to survive under bombs and artillery strikes. It was just one amateur photo of a dead innocent Ukrainian girl, wrapped in a cheap green blanket with flowers, her little tank top soaked in blood. She never will grow up and see the world like we do now.

I know this may strike you as naïve self-righteousness, but as our reality sinks into darkness, we turn our minds to the classics: the literary treasury of humanity where evil and good were explained in graceful simplicity and future generations could cherish this moral compass.

In one such excerpt from the New Testament, a dark-haired Judas squeezing a little pouch containing his hard-earned silver. He just did something carefully innocent that would lead to a murder of his friend and teacher. Whatever it was: greed, pride, jealousy or perhaps a well-intentioned idea of restoring peace and justice in his city, Judah suddenly for himself diverted history, sending it spinning down, its wings shorn off between the straits of good and evil.

This single dark-haired person quietly consulting the leaders did not understand the scope of that simple act.

I owe that Ukrainian girl.

My homeland, that of the slim birches and smell of pirozkov, became unrecognizable overnight. The matryoshka with bared teeth said: “We are saving our people!” She opened her little belly revealing more and more little wooden dolls, like pirates sending tanks, missiles, bombs, armies of young solders to take what they find. In a convulsion of righteousness, the swollen matryoshka faces command you to not be confused: there is no war, just a quick military operation. There is no killing – just some random dead children, and anything else is just a fake.

My favorite writer Boris Pasternak knew nothing about FAKES. He lost so much in the bloody Russian revolution, with so many murders in the name of good. Losing that fight, he wrote: “Absurdity has no end; it will just break off at one of its absurd links when no one expects it to. And it won't break off because the absurdity has come to an end but because the meaningful has begun, and that beginning excludes and annuls the absurd.” The recent centuries atrocities like the World War II, war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Russian-Ukrainian war, with nuclear forces on high alert – they all have one similarity, aside from millions and millions of murdered innocent people: careful, well-intend reasoning – just one Juda’s step towards the evil abys of despair, pain and suffering …

The virtuosic, worldly matryoshkas are masters of mass hypnosis. You know nothing about the matryoshka and her brilliant machinations. Her ideas have been ripening secretly in the dark, damp corners of the Kremlin mausoleum. While you cowered in your homes, terrified by the pervasive virus, she masterfully implanted the propaganda virus, fertilized with fear, in every Russian home and prepared jail cells for those who dare think otherwise. Her sprouting infestation created thousands and thousands of matryoshkas marching in the name of a great Empire that was not appreciated by the rest of the world. “We remember our grandfathers, who died for the Great Empire!” – they are hypnotizing themselves, all the while sinking into more and more hate, pain and tears from the rest of the world and the blood of innocent Ukrainians, her once-upon-a-time poor brothers. But the matryoshka-mother possesses a special vision: in her paranoid dreams she is hallucinating endless ranks of enemies, traitors – even the genocide of Russians that defy the hypnotic spell. She needs to stand against the evil West, even if that means starving her own country.

“You are killers too!” she yells, red- faced, stepping on the fresh corpse of a Ukrainian child, hit by an accidental bomb. “You are: the US, killing people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Japan, you are Germans, you are French, you are Italians…” she keeps pointing, until in that endless line, her finger comes to rest aimed at the dark-haired Judas. She stops, breathing heavily. They are both standing next to a bleeding, crucified body on the cross. “You killed too…” she gathered her breath, “then - I CAN DO THAT TOO.”

Absurdity has no end. The Matryoshkas are ready to celebrate the victory, surrounded by the tamed Russian church, legions of timid Duma-servants, fat Kremlin oligarchs snorting cocaine, and the propaganda troubadours. Russian history books will declare that an aggressive Ukrainian military threat was crushed; the growling of empty stomachs will be drowned out by the victorious clinking sounds of glasses full of vodka mixed with blood.

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