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Andreev Pavel
Yesterday Was The Easiest Day!

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   Art of War. Pavel Andreev. Yesterday was the easiest day!
   He had a white dome-shaped ceiling above his head. There was a buzzing in his head, making some obscure vibration in his body, which moved to his legs in a kind of impulses and came back in a kind of intolerable pain. He brokenly rose on his elbows. The regular bout of pain flung his head back to a pillow, but even that could not suppress that flow of emotions that he was getting from what he saw.
   He was routed not by the absence of legs but by mocking sharp made edges of a soldier blanket, tucked in his bed. Having put his cut body, torn with mine fragments, on the bed they folded the blanket back at exactly space to cover his body. The blanket below his knees was untouched, keeping sharp edges, made by somebody. The integrity of the blanket defiantly demonstrated indifference to all that had occurred, he occupied exactly the half of what he was supposed to. The boundary of that reality was extending exactly on his bleeding stumps.
   He did not completely become aware of his present condition and went on considering the life in the light of old feelings, which were not still destroyed by new reality. He felt pain in his amputated legs. He was not much worried about holes in his arm and stomach. He got only one thought floating in his contused head. I am alive, why? Having tried to consider impartially everything that had happened to him he tried to find a way out of the situation he found himself in.
   His life was divided by two parts v before and after what had happened. These two parts of his life like fragments of crushed mosaic, made variegated chaos of events and people in his head. He had never had anything like that in his life he could use to define the new order of things. He intuitively felt that knowledge and skills he needed were inside him but the explosion of that damned mine had turned everything upside down.
   The only resource he had, he could derive his certitude from, was time. He almost physically felt himself in the middle of the crater, made by that explosion, which he was sucking in by an impetuous rushing through him, current of time. The impetuous motion of the life ran through his body, his brain, not taking him. He realised that the life was like water in a rush mountain stream, flowing around him unable to destroy the obstacle of steadfast solidity of his consciousness, rooted deeply in his past. He felt himself a fallen grain of sand in a sand-glass of his destiny. The density of events that had occurred over last three months, indicated the set event would have happened and that had happened. Now he was totally possessed by the past, like that fallen grain of sand, being in the expectation the destiny to turn over his sand-glass again. Not having created a new life category he went on living by old ones, based on his own invaluable survive experience, which prompted to the simple truth, he could not decline its utility. He slowly extracted those facts from his past, making them a basement, the basement of a pyramid of his new consciousness.
   Once fortuity, irreversibility, irrevocability of all that had happened to him was that form, the destiny comes up to a man. He understood that any fact is unforeseen fortuity so it cannot be determined. But, having analysed what had happened, he realised that both motion and spirit of the future, either for a single man or for a group of people, are non-random, and thanks to free decision of characters in a play that development can finish with superb end or to be exposed to danger to be weakened and to die but cannot be changed in its significance and direction.
   A fact is something momentary, what is or will be in reality. The truth is something that does not quite need to be actually accomplished in order to exist as possibility. Destiny relates to facts, the association between cause and action is truth. He knew that, thus the life is connected with only facts, consists of only facts and only facts is referred to.
   One needs time to learn something.
   One needs that very time to become somebody.
   ..."If you live according to the drill regulation you-ll gain glory and respect!". The slogan hung on the wall in front of his bed. He was falling asleep and waking up reading that slogan.
   It was a regular night training. Physical exercises, gladiatorial fights and, as an unrealisable dream, retreat. Once and for all loosing his head and not even dreaming about the possibility to sleep, he was standing in the line of other soldiers, looking at the damned slogan with watchwords.
   "What are you meditating on, skull (it is a custom to cut a new solder-s hair close to the skin, so a head looks like a skull)?" - the sergeant-s question brought him back to the barracks. "If you live according to the drill regulation you-ll gain glory and respect!", - shouted he in answer. The sergeant was silently looking at his face, rocking from heels to toes. "It is the easiest thing to do what you are forced to. The most difficult thing is to do what you need to in spite of circumstances. So, all of you, skulls have to keep in mind following simple rule: To know and to idle that-s the same as not to know! You cannot know everything but you must to learn fast!!! Thus, don-t think about it just do it!!!", - the sergeant was obviously self-satisfied with his final words. "Retreated, skulls!", - was the long-awaited order. Obviously they wouldn-t be able to get sergeant knowledge without living life from a cadet to a sergeant. It made it possible to train them in a greater style of perception of inner possibilities and target settings, social training as separate persons, ready to execute those tasks, which are formed on base of facts of sergeants' lives but not on the basis of some "ideal" abstract concepts of the drill regulations.
   But in order to act as in all other cases they had to have time and possibility to learn new things. These were necessary means to gain strength by means of what can be done much more then without it. The moment the strength is gained the possibility to use it appears...
   There were three more months before the end of the beginning.
   If you see that the struggle is useless, fight with double force.
   ... When they finally managed to burst through to surrounded guys that what he saw he remembered for his whole life.
   Two of them, smearing tears on their faces covered with thick layer of dust, weren-t embarrassed of their emotions. Eight people had been hollowing out, changing each other, the base of a duval (a very solid clay fence) which separated them from their, wounded in his hip, pal who had fallen to the other side of the duval. Dukhs (In Russian Army slang short version of "dushman" v mujahideen (holy warrior)) cut them off by dense fire not giving them any chance to climb over the duval. Two of them were wounded while making an attempt. They were throwing bags with Kalashnikov gun magazines over the duval for the wounded guy. They threw grenades for him. They even tried to support their wounded pal, who was defending himself by shooting approaching dukhs, with the fire of their AGS (automatic grenade launcher). Guys hollowed the duval out with everything they had nearby.
   He was really astonished, seeing, what amount of job they-d done by only their bare hands, managed, literally, to gnaw the duval through.
   When the whole in the base of the duval was almost completed their pal got one more wound in his right shoulder. Bleeding white, losing consciousness from unbearable pain, the wounded guy didn-t sustained the efforts and blew himself with a hand grenade. Dukhs, having seen the uselessness of their attempts to capture him alive, withdrew.
   But they still hollowed out that whole, knowing he was dead already. Their pal didn-t wait for them only eight more minutes. Five minutes after the grenade explosion dukhs surrounded them. In eight minutes guys completed the whole in the base of the duval. Five more minutes later the other group managed to fight their way through.
   Now, two last soldiers who completed that whole were crying like children not hiding their emotions. They had the body of their friend in front of them. They nevertheless drag him through that damned whole, not admitting uselessness of what they-d been doing...
   Having lain on a hospital bed he began to understand that the time of coming of the death is totally depends on when and how the vital energy of a man was defeated. He saw, for instance, how a serious injury could instantly kill a man, whereas others, less concentrated attacks on man-s health caused imbecility, loss one-s self-control, disorganisation of the will.
   "To Live, to Live and TO LIVE that must be the only and uncompromising decision", - that way he understood all significance of what had happened to him.
   But, before the balance is restored, it will have been broken. Somebody will be the first.
   "Your main task now is to learn to live without legs", - a surgeon encouragingly clapped on his shoulder when bandages had been taken off and his lungs got tired of his own scream. He understood they would be the first. The huge country couldn-t find some financial resources in order to develop the social rehabilitation and not because it didn-t have them. The country didn-t have something else it didn-t have aims, that-s why it was pointless.
   The amputation (by war) of possibility from wounded people to show their worth turned them into opposition of themselves. "The limiting manipulations" are efficient by expenditures and very effective by results. The State knew that very well. What it gained by such amputation of possibilities? It gave the State the antipode of that man who was sent to the war.
   Having restricted guys, in that way, the State had possibility to manipulate them, giving them privileges, taking their own possibilities, their own aims. The aim is always inseparable from tools for achieving it: every aim is corresponding to a special tool, every tool is corresponding to a special aim achieved by it. He had now only one aim, only one tool to achieve it v his artificial limbs, as a symbol of human pain and patience. He was aware that his life would consist of many days that would be turned into eternity by pain. When the ground is cut from your feet just jump forward. If you don-t know what to do just make a step forward. The war will show the plan, the essential thing is to engage in a battle, and then you-ll understand what to do!
   "A fish tactically wins, sensing a worm but strategically loses being caught on a hook". Khokku, poetry. "Never engage in thrust by your enemy battle, it-s better to withdraw at the right time rather then to step over your own corpses later", - the prose of life.
   The easiest day.
   White walls, white bedclothes. Peace and silence. That what he was dreaming about all the time since he is in the Army. Now all that was perceived absolutely different.
   A battalion commander was sitting near his bed. An ideological officer of his platoon brought him new uniform and striped vest, beret, badges, two RD (special paratroops rucksacks) full of Kandagar pomegranates, sultanas, apples, Si-Si lemonade. "There are 500 checks here. That-s for you from all of us, for the first time", - the battalion commander put a simple soldier mail envelope on his pillow. "What are you going to do while demobilised, son?" asked him the battalion commander. Trying to look cheerful he didn-t find anything better than to say: "I-ll make stools and sell them on a market-place"(after the World War II invalids, maimed at that war were unclaimed by the State so they had to live for their own, the way of survive was to do something and sell out. Since that it means to be at the bottom). The burning pain in his legs stroke in his contused head, the battalion commander lifted him by a bedclothes, wrapped around his cut body with a jerky movements: "If I know you are soiling in civil life I-ll come myself and kill you, do you understand what I mean? Just remember, son, the easiest day for you was yesterday! Your war just begins...".
   A plane was expected next morning. His pals from a company packaged bandages on his arm and stomach with circles of charz (a marijuana-like drug) for Kandagar Special Forces soldiers in hospitals in Russia. His battalion commander and ideological officer have just left.
   He still doesn-t completely realise what had happened to him, going on to consider the life in light of old, unbroken by new reality, feelings. He felt pain in non-existent, amputated legs. He wasn-t much worried about wounds in his arm and stomach. The only one thought periodically floats in his contused head, that-s right, the easiest day was yesterday!
   (c) Pavel Andreev, 1998

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