The War in August, 2008. Three years later. The eyewitnesses are telling. Diana Kochieva

Tue, 23/08/2011 - 10:17

Kochieva Diana Akhsarovna, 1978 year of birth, an inhabitant of Tskhinval

My awful dream.

In 1998 I had a dream. I was going on a visit to my grandmother and grandfather at Heroes Street, and, having reached their house, a terrible scene appeared before my eyes - the house was destroyed and burnt. My mother's younger brother Jura was sitting at the dilapidated wall with a brick in his hand, trying to make something. I asked him, crying, what had happened, where my grandmother, grandfather and my uncle were? Jura silently showed me the ashes.

I remember strong smell of burning; even awaken in cold sweat I was still feeling it. August, 2008. 8 years as we buried my grandfather, a year as we buried my grandmother and 2 months as we buried my uncle Ruslan. But I am still afraid to tell my dream anyone. War was floating around some days. The town had been left by women, children and gradually one could not hear children's voices, only twittering of birds. Silence reigned around chilling my blood. My mother persuaded me to leave, but after my firm "no" she yielded. I could not allow myself to leave my house because of snotty Georgians. They could have killed me in my house, on my land, on the land of my ancestors, but they could have never banished me!!! On August, 7 Saakashvili declared on TV that he was not going to attack South Ossetia. It seemed to me very suspicious, when I heard his declaration of love to the Ossetian people; besides, our Prime Minister was calming people, asserting that war would not be possible. I decided to collect all the most necessary things and carried them to the cellar. Mother began making fun of my panic. Nevertheless, I collected 2 bags, first of all medicines, some savings and candles. I also took my short fur coat (I had saved up for it for a long time) and the book by Agusti Aleman «Alans in the ancient and medieval written sources». A powerful shooting started. I had some foodstuff, but nobody could eat. Darkness fell. After the "calming" programs on a TV set, we went to bed. We could not fall asleep, so we were anxious. At 23:35 everything started. I realized that we should go to the cellar. For the first time, in the course of 20 years of war we had to go to the cellar. All my neighbours, including the 4-year old girl Alana, had been already in the cellar. One of them said that the Russian troops had been already moving to Tskhinval. The fire was intensive; all our neigbour lads were at their fighting positions. There were women, girls, two old men and Alana in the cellar. They had already spent several nights in the cellar. About 12 o'clock the light went out, the mobile communication and the Internet disappeared. At night, at half past two our district was fired by the volley system «Hail». Horrible roar reigned everywhere. Shouts of women, horror in the eyes of Alana`s mother, bending over the sleeping child, trying to cover her with her body and looking at the ceiling, estimating, whether her child would have survived if the ferroconcrete block had failed,-one could not forget it. My mother and I were calming our neighbours; the medicines appeared to be useful, too. At some moment our neigbour lads who had remained without command, not knowing what to do, what positions to occupy, ran into the cellar to see their mothers; they told that the real war was at Heroes Street, that the Georgians had penetrated into the city from the "Spider". I realized that the last thing to come true from my dream –was my destroyed house. It was not available to get through to my uncle, as well as to all my relatives. It seemed to me that there was not anybody alive. I had the Georgian Sim-card (the Georgian communication service was available) and called my aunt in Kutaisi. Having remembered about this card, I ran upstairs on the 5th floor to the storm of bullets and shells, to the cries of my mother, trying to prevent me. Thank God! I was not injured. I called my friend Aida in Vladikavkaz; she was pregnant. Aida in horror told me that her mother and her brother were in Tskhinval and she had no any information about them. Burst out sobbing she appealed to me to leave the town and offered me the shelter. I calmed her, as I could;I said that I had not heard the names of her relatives among the names of the victims. When Aida calmed down, I asked her what`s on the mass-media. Aida informed me, that the Russian troops had been already moving towards Tskhinval. Armed with good news, I opened the windows and the door to the balcony (I had remembered that they should be opened to resist the explosions), then I went into the cellar where I heard that the Georgians had invaded through Znaur. The candles had already burnt down and there was as dark, as in a coffin. My neighbor, having heard the voices, looked out of the entrance, and the young men running nearby, told that her son had been wounded. She rushed to search for him. She was absent for a long time. By this time her son ran up and heard that his mother was searching for him around the flaming city. One could not imagine in what condition his mother returned at last! We began calming her, and when she believed that her son was alive, she told us, crying, about her son`s searches, how to the storm of bullets and exploding shells she was running from one corpse to another, overturned the burnt bodies and then reached the hospital, which is at a long distance from our house. She didn`t find her son among the wounded men, so she went into the morgue. It was dark in the morgue, and the poor woman began searching her son to the touch; she hoped to find the son under his head shape. She felt all corpses and prostrated, at last, returned home. She heard in the hospital that the Georgians had broken through the Gafez Street and that the Russian troops had already been moving to Tskhinval. It was so dark that only having looked out of the cellar, I saw that it was already daybreak. Hope that with a dawn all that horror would come to the end vanished into smoke. My neighbours, the boys about 18-20years old, ran into the entrance, one of them with a laceration of his hand, told that he had been in the hospital, but it was flooded. Our neighbours dressed his wound themselves. The boys informed us that the Georgians were in the town, coming into the cellars and shooting people there. Two of my neigbours started to panic. Panic is a terrible force! The others joined them, too. One of them started crying that we should lock the cellar door, as if the lock could rescue anybody, the others were shouting that it was not necessary to lock the door, that if the Georgians had set fire nobody would have got out and all of us would have burnt down. My mother and I were sitting in the cellar, looking at each other in silence, and deliberating, what would be more correct, to close or not the door, but did not embroil in the argument. This shameful action was lasting for a long time, and, at last, everything became quiet. The fight was won by those who had not allowed locking the door. And the Russian troops were still moving to Tskhinval. At some moment I went upstairs to my apartment to bring some water. Through the window I saw the terrifying scene. The fire and smoke caught the whole town. Having looked from a balcony downwards I saw two young men approaching our house. I called to them and asked, whether it was truth that the government leadership was not in the town. They did not answer. I again called to them and one of them said severely: «Go down into the cellar!» Suddenly the planes emerged in the sky. Their flight was so low, so impudent that, whether it was intuition, but I felt that they were the Georgian planes. Having seen, as one of them was dropping a bomb on the Dyrguis district, I as a cowardly hare showed a clean pair of heels and in a trice found myself in the cellar. They were talking that the Georgian tanks had intruded into Kvajsa. And the Russian troops were still moving to Tskhinval. By the daybreak of August, 9, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I began searching for my mother. My neigbour told me that my mother had run to her daughter-in-law who lived nearby, to see whether all of them were alive. Having suspected something wrong, I jumped, ran out of the cellar and to the whistle of bullets rushed to my aunt. She was surprised that I was searching for mother at her place. Suddenly I understood: my mother had left to search for my brother. I returned home and to the roar of missiles washed myself, brushed my hair, changed my clothes (I didn`t want to die slovenly) and went searching for my mother. Soon I found her, being petrified, next to our house. I have no doubt that our house had been destroyed-I saw this scene in my dream. I was almost sure that my uncle was alive according to my dream. Mother confirmed everything, she told, that she was running along the Heroes Street, escaping from the Georgian soldiers scurrying all over the town and then she came under fire of the «Hail» on her way back. It`s incredible, that she remained alive and safe! Thanks the Lord that has saved her. Till now I cannot forgive her that she has not thought about me! Our destroyed house was demonstrated in all films which have been shot about this war, even the computer game on this theme begins with a picture of our house. A bit later one of my neighbours turned on the generator and connected the TV to it directly at the entrance. Only the Georgian TV channels were available; Saakashvili and D. Sanakoev were appealing to the South-Ossetian population, saying that Russia had left us, they appealed to lay down arms and surrender, promising 3 hours of armistice, from 15:00 till 18:00; during this period the Ossetians could leave Tskhinval and go to Georgia; they would be waited on the border of the town and village Ergneti and they would be granted an amnesty, and would not be pursued. Granting amnesty to the people protecting their native land? It`s incredible. We were warned that total bombardment would begin at 18:00. «Your cellars will not help you anymore»,- that one, who had sworn love couple of days earlier, encouraged us. It is unnecessary to mention that no one even thought to desert to Georgia. But the deadline was announced - 3 hours of life. And the Russian troops had been still moving to Tskhinval Temporary lull fell. Nevertheless, single explosions of shells were resounded, but nobody paid attention to them. Some of the people left their cellar to see the sun. It was already 16:00, 16:30. We were still in the court yard when mother suggested going upstairs to drink coffee for the last time. There was no gas and light in the apartments. Mother found dry spirit, and we made black, sweet, fragrant coffee. It should be so, considering that we had been hungry since August, 7. Neither I, nor mother received any pleasure drinking coffee. It was the most tasteless coffee in my life. I lay down on the sofa. If cellars did not rescue us, we should not go downstairs. I prefer to die at home. I sent Aida the message where I said goodbye to her, I wished her good luck (my message drove her to a frenzy, she could not forgive me hitherto; I only wanted to communicate with somebody while I was still alive). I felt sorry for my mother and we again went downwards. It was already 17:30, 17:35, 17:40. 20 minutes to death. Nobody was crying, or became hysterical. Maybe because we were so tired. It was already 17:45. It seemed to me that we had been already killed. It was 17:50. Everybody kept silent. Suddenly, unexpectedly, the Russian plane emerged from nowhere! Then the next one followed it. For 10 minutes they annihilated the Georgian air force. But nobody was happy any more, maybe people did not believe in life, and life was no more a pleasure for them. In the evening of August,9 our lads returned home, having explained that the Russian soldiers who, at last had reached Tskhinval, sent them home, saying «Now let us take actions». In the morning of August, 10, walking along the streets, I saw full ruin; there were bricks, glass, the branches of the trees, unexploded shells on the earth. People began to leave the cellars of their destroyed houses, without believing that all the horror was over. There was a strong smell of burning, as in my horrible dream. And birds did not arrive in Tskhinval for a long time. And I did not go down into a cellar for a long time, for fear to find my corpse there. But as they say in the popular song, «I am unlucky in death, so I shall be lucky in love». The war has ended thanks to the Russian army, we are alive and though our house is still unfinished, we are going to live long. I have met my love, married and to spite all unhealthy Georgian politicians and the blood-thirsty and unskillful Georgian soldiers I am going to give birth to the Ossetians. And there are many of us. Nobody will break us until we have such babes as Alana, Alana-the heroine, -my little neigbour who in the course of 3 days, trying to calm us, to distract us from gloomy thoughts, did not cry, was not capricious, and was telling us, the adults, the legends of narts. How she, the four-year girl, managed to learn so much? Maybe, she is one of them who are called the «men of spirit»? And paraphrasing Byron, I`d like to say: My spirit, whether you remember, whose blood is entrusted you in destiny? Rise, Alania, again for glorious affairs!