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Farukshin Ryan
How are you... Shuravi?

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   How are you... Shuravi?
  
   Ryan Farukshin "I want to understand"
  
   I saw her with my eyes,
   I followed her, knowing how it always ends.
   I wept, giving in to the dry tears, no surprise,
   For boys, lost saving friends.
  
   Why did he perish? What did he do in this place,
   Where mountains stand forever, like brothers?
   And how will it be written to his parents? "Not in disgrace,
   Was your son lost." The pen will not console these mothers.
  
   But I will write that his was a hero's death,
   His people's duty fulfilled, never left undone.
   Under those grey cliffs he was left for his last breath,
   But his eternal memory has only just begun.
  
   I thought, that I should take vengeance on her ill,
   She is death. And I? Well I am life and living.
   But I understood, that each of those who I would kill,
   Sets out for her, the essence of their being.
  
   Why do we live, whilst others are dying?
   Where are the doorways of peace and its supporting crowd?
   By a twist of fate we are desperate and aching,
   Trying to shake off death's mysterious shroud.
  
   Who am I? Neither GOD, nor a JUDGE to damn.
   I caused no trouble, nor did I kill in this land,
   How am I to realise who and what I am?
   Tell me people, I only want to understand...
  
   Gennadii Nord "Chechnia"
  
   I got up with the alarm clock and left my cold tea, but do not cry,
   Though on the way I forgot to whisper to you: - Goodbye...
   Without consultation, the plane took off into the dawn sky.
   And tomorrow the mountains of Chechnya, Chechnya, but why?
  
   The guitar string achingly trembles, here until dawn,
   And this song carries away snatches of dreams and a soldier's yearn.
   Let bad weather not sweep sadness into the tent, all forlorn.
   Just six more months, and home I will return.
  
   In the damp tent I scrape mud from my boots and hair,
   And tomorrow the fight, against an enemy, who knows where?
   Talk does not keep us safe from blood, so to die
   In the green mountains - Chechnya, Chechnya, but why?
  
   The guitar string achingly trembles, here until dawn,
   And this song carries away snatches of dreams and a soldier's yearn.
   Let bad weather not sweep sadness into the tent, all forlorn.
   Just six more months, and home I will return.
  
   Here we learnt our eyes would not see all of life.
   And I am barely able to talk about all its strife.
   Our heads were spun by the dirty work of man and soon,
   From our company, there remains just one platoon.
  
   The guitar string achingly trembles, here until dawn,
   And this song carries away snatches of dreams and a soldier's yearn.
   Let bad weather not sweep sadness into the tent, all forlorn.
   Just six more months, and home I will return.
  
   Ryan Farukshin "Vitiok"
  
   And do you remember the first battle, brother?
   You screamed with fear and gave a cuss.
   In the village of Achkhoi-Martan we stood together,
   And the APC opened fired on us.
  
   And do you remember our first jump, how we soared?
   Somewhere near Shali that day,
   I somehow found the ripcord,
   And you whispered to me: Pray!
  
   And for help, you yourself prayed,
   When on New Year's Eve, that winter,
   Into the Chechen-Aul you made the raid,
   With me by your side, together.
  
   And in March at the battle for Gudermes they said,
   Dudaev himself was there,
   And you almost rose from the dead...
   Well, have I really forgotten the despair?
  
   How they turned Grebenskaia into a charred wreck,
   When the mayor was killed,
   And death breathed down our neck,
   Stood point-blank and smiled.
  
   And do you remember the mess in Groznii?
   At the checkpoint, the horrific slaughter?
   And the kukushka, he only just missed me,
   The twitching fool, they call a sniper.
  
   And the forced march to Avturi?
   Well, remember, how we broke the earth,
   We cut with an axe, we weren't lazy,
   As we chopped for the life we're worth.
  
   And do you remember, that night
   You went for vodka?
   Our watch in the misty dawn light
   Almost killed you in Khankala.
  
   And we took Bamut in May,
   Without a loss we ceased,
   And you were really tough that day,
   And fought like a wild beast.
  
   Then up rolled Yeltsin,
   And presented us with many medals, sent
   To call us to the election
   To go and vote for him as president.
  
   Why do we need Yeltsin, another suit,
   Of whom we have enough already?
   As they jumped, he was failed by his parachute -
   The company commander who fell to earth unsteady.
  
   I will remember forever these lands,
   How you were smashed to smithereens,
   And then you died in my hands,
   Broken by these rocks, these awful scenes.
  
   The final battle bawled its war cries:
   And then came the explosions,
   That bought a sad tear to the eyes,
   And hurled us into the heavens.
  
   I saw God then a light and felt the final breath.
   The brightness beckoned me alone,
   So I sent my regards to death,
   Having burst into her home.
  
   But I survived and out of spite to death,
   I returned to life, so that I could live!
   You know that I was lucky to be left,
   And I swore vengeance for you who did not survive.
  
   But vengeance is no doctor for this pain,
   For you will never return to home,
   So I won't spend time in vain
   But will learn to stand on my own.
  
   I will marry and have a son one day,
   And give him your name, carved in rock.
   I will come to the cemetery, and say:
   - Well, how are things, Vitiok?
  
   And do you remember the first battle, brother?
   You screamed with fear and gave a cuss.
   In the village of Achkhoi-Martan we stood together,
   For the first time...you were dying...one of us...
  
   Ryan Farukshin - "Alone, but we are together..."
   (In memory of our friend Vladimir Arkad'evich Grigo'ev)
  
   Alone - a warrior in the field he calls,
   Alone - he raises our flags for us,
   Alone - worthy of a hundred memorials,
   Alone - the pen pusher a must.
  
   Alone - he toiled for the common good,
   Alone - he raised a battalion of his own,
   Alone - he bred kings from pawns as we should,
   Alone - he violated the restricted zone.
  
   Alone - he overcame the crushing pain,
   Alone - he conquered, and learnt to struggle in hell,
   Alone - he built new lives to reign,
   Alone - by the sources of a holy well.
  
   Alone - he got down to business from the start:
   Alone - he gathered, rallied and had faith before,
   Alone - he now remains forever in the heart,
   Alone...by himself...wide open doors...
  
   Dmitrii Mikhal'tsev "The Letter"
  
   I am writing to you from a foreign land,
   All the comrades are friends peacefully sleeping,
   I long for you, sweet homeland,
   I remember your lips and your tender glance in spring.
  
   With green bandages the mountains cover their deep scars,
   It's a long, oh, such a long way home, but please not in vain.
   The evil guerrillas begin to crawl along the hidden paths,
   It means soon, very soon, a battle again.
   Sand between my teeth again, salty sweat again tonight.
   And again tracer fire will draw a black petal in descent,
   And one more temple will grow white,
   And one more boy will desert his regiment.
  
   Soon I will be demobbed, just this summer to wait,
   And then I will return home in time for New Year.
   I touch wood so as not to tempt the desires of fate,
   For in the morning we march on from here.
  
   With green bandages the mountains cover their deep scars,
   It's a long, oh, such a long way home, but please not in vain.
   The evil guerrillas begin to crawl along the hidden paths,
   It means soon, very soon, a battle again.
   Sand between my teeth again, salty sweat again tonight.
   And again tracer fire will draw a black petal in descent,
   And one more temple will grow white,
   And one more boy will desert his regiment.
  
   Write to me about the mist that creeps over the stream,
   How the long grass in waves undulates in the homeland,
   Write how...everybody write for I can't believe it's not a dream,
   That sometime I shall return home again, on my earth to stand...
  
   Mikhail Diukov "A toast to a friend"
  
   I want to drink a toast to a friend,
   Who helped me in troubled times; he always tried.
   Even though it was hard not to bend,
   He never betrayed us, nor denied.
   I want to drink a shot to a friend,
   Who shared the last moment of rage.
   Forgive me, if I have managed to offend,
   And at times used foul language.
  
   But never mind, for the friend will not hear,
   He left me forever.
   He will neither ring, nor write dear
   Letters to me, ever.
   For our friends we save our kindest words,
   Until they lay in the cemetery's earth.
   And then we will remember everything and how absurd:
   Bittersweet, these are our ways, for what they're worth.
  
   It is no sin to drink a toast to a friend,
   To the memory of his eternal soul.
   Suffocated by tears, it is hard to breathe at his end...
   It took us too long to get to each other, such a toll.
   I want to drink a toast to a friend
   And I want to finish singing this song,
   Quietly cries the guitar-girlfriend,
   Continuing to grieve with me, so long.
  
   Ryan Farukshin "A song about a medal"
  
   What's it like? To live for two weeks in the mountain passes
   And jump across the peaks and slopes, crossing the terrain?
   Having forgotten everything, Allah will help us,
   To believe in our ammunition and ourselves to sustain.
  
   What's it like? To tramp waist-high through water with rotten feet
   And in a ravine on your belly, having to lie?
   Neither able to smoke, nor drink, with nothing to eat,
   And it is impossible either to laugh, or to cry.
  
   And at nights unable to sleep, walking in silence unheard,
   And constantly checking the distance on the map's topography,
   Until the Nokhchii are found, surrounded and destroyed,
   Without a doubt or ambiguity, nor compassion or sympathy.
  
   On the fifteenth day, at exactly nine in the morning still,
   We found the Wahhabite platoon in their lairs-
   They were entrenched in the foliage, on the slope of the hill,
   They had set mines and read their prayers.
  
   Seven hours until the grave, seven hours the battle lasted,
   Between life and death - they shoot undeterred.
   And he who remains alive will return home, a soul not wasted
   Bringing the rest so they can be buried.
  
   Face up in the earth, twenty-five boys once of worth,
   Only the sky in their eyes - a reflection,
   Twenty-five boys on the Chechen earth
   Forever, to the sky, to resurrection.
  
   Someone sobs, someone simply sits, staring,
   Another patches wounds with garments,
   And already a helicopter whirls above the clearing,
   They let me live, but every breath is full of guilty laments...
  
   Before I believed that I was necessary to my homeland,
   Six months I fought for something, I believed,
   Two years I served and returned home a different man,
   From my company I alone, survived.
  
   To me a medal is no medal, but to look at it causes me to gall,
   When I see without legs, in a wheelchair, no longer laughing,
   Emptiness fills the soul and I feel sick from it all,
   But a medal, they gave me, for what? It means nothing.
  
   Gennadii Nord "The boys"
  
   We did not smell the smoke, we yearned for our beloveds,
   At the soldiers' celebratory meal we poured spirits without measure.
   The train flashes through the stations, carrying our company away
   To the mountain checkpoint way of life from the steppe freedom, its pleasure.
  
   The summer attracts with its fairy moonlight flooding through the window,
   Clover exudes August, only we have no time,
   And the track clatters beneath us, letting the wagons pass:
   Oil in tankers to the North, our company to the South down the line.
  
   The Thermos has been opened and in the compartment the deputy commander
   Drinks together with the commander until the start of the war.
   Ahead the exchange of fire, the barking and shivering of machine-guns...
   They sleep on the edge of the world, the boys, the boys, no more.
  
   The summer attracts with its fairy moonlight flooding through the window,
   Clover exudes August, only we have no time,
   And the track clatters beneath us, letting the wagons pass:
   Oil in tankers to the North, our company to the South down the line.
  
  
   Ryan Farukshin "Song of internationalist-war"
  
   "Come on, get into formation!" they bade.
   And yelled, "Hold your sub-machine gun!"
   For you are a private now, comrade,
   Young, green, but a soldier, son!
  
   You were ordered to serve two years,
   Like all Soviet boys, the same,
   Of course, your bread has not been buttered here,
   But here, of course, is not Vietnam!
  
   I fell into a cushy job, kind of liked it,
   In the VDV, the elite forces I grew up.
   They threw me down the gauntlet,
   And I was thoroughly roughed up.
  
   I ran for half a year, did push ups and muscle gained,
   For half a year I polished floors,
   And in a little shooting I was trained,
   And plenty of boots I scrubbed, abiding by the laws.
  
   And then they drew up and said:
   - An order has been issued from Moscow,
   Of course, this is not what you wanted,
   But your Fatherland has chosen you.
  
   The Uzbeks did not feed us pilau, not one bite,
   And the Tajiks did not read us the Koran,
   We crossed the border overnight
   And found ourselves there in Afghanistan.
  
   Here there are no villages, just one aul,
   Instead of a forest just rocks and sand,
   We reached the city of Kabul,
   Within the time set by Moscow's hand.
  
   They lined us up in parade formation:
   - For three months we beat the enemy to its knees!
   To our cost to see our nation
   Like a flock of breeding carrion-crows!
  
   How the bourgeoisie stir up differences,
   Oppressing the poor and sick and the unwise.
   We must thwart this plot of disturbance,
   Or else it's us they'll be after, guys.
  
   But the months stretched into years,
   Ten years - such a call-up period,
   And to fifteen thousand funerals and fears,
   The Soviet forces were led.
  
   Three hundred thousand wounded souls,
   Forty thousand are crippled boys to be kept.
   Inconsolable under the Kremlin walls
   Their mothers wept, so many, they wept.
  
   And what did they get? Where are the victories?
   Where is the country with the name Union? Dead?
   Heartless regards sent by the powers-that-be,
   Having sent home another "Cargo 200"
  
   It is nothing to us, we will endure it, we are tough!
   Not a servicemen who fought in Afghanistan is a coward!
   We'll break free from these damned shackles, enough.
   Only you can't bring back those who died.
  
   Nothing is strange to me, alive without doubt,
   Only when I cry at night,
   And the children say, it is important for them to find out,
   Why is their father drunk in the rubbish? Is he alright?
  
   Dmitrii Mikhal'tsev "Human battering ram"
  
   Silently moves the recon unit; the mountains look gloomy.
   The wind in the ravine sings; the fittings creaked with doom,
   Soon we will reach the destination for our mission but without glee.
   Our task is to seal off the crossing-place, you see.
  
   Suddenly a machine-gun clatters, the air explodes with screams.
   The town was raked from above while evil laughed it seemed.
   The platoon was scattered by the firing, the guys clung to the rocks.
   We didn't all leave in the end; the bullets cut us down, the shock.
  
   Over the battle hovered a helicopter, the propeller creating a dust-bowl.
   The pilot returned to the unit, tired with the task was his soul.
   Having seen such a battle, he decided to help the guys below before hope passed.
   And discharged all his ammunition at those who were raking him and his comrades with bullets to the last.
  
   As the machine guns fell silent, the platoon managed to dig itself in.
   And all who sat in the ravine managed to clamber ahead, hoping for a final win.
   But they shot the helicopter down, though it was still possible to hold out, not too late.
   Hiding his conscience, he left his men to their fate.
  
   And full of anger and wounds,
   The pilot cracked his teeth
   And became the ram himself along the ground,
   Closing the crossing with his own life...
  
   Ryan Farukshin "The way home"
  
   Think about yourself and thoughts no more,
   Or forget them completely from today.
   You, young sailor, are now at war,
   As from here there is only one way.
  
   This is the way home, don't ask why,
   There are only three options,
   With a head held proudly high -
   For parents it is the best news of sons
  
   And the second option is one of terrible harm,
   It is in zinc, the "Black Tulip", they will deliver
   You in the hands of yours brothers-in-arms,
   They bring you home, brother.
  
   They will bury you in the damp earth,
   They will fill you in, and plant flowers, and by turn,
   They will remember you, a hero, death undeserved,
   Only it is a pity you will not return.
  
   Your mother will go grey in a month of worry,
   And you father will soon take to drink,
   How much is it possible to suffer like that? Don't say sorry.
   Now about the grandchildren they must think.
  
   The third way is the secret way you see.
   God forbid!, you arrive as an invalid without a chance,
   Instead of blood - red mercury,
   Instead of life - a scrap of grievance.
  
   When you sit silently in the arm-chair,
   When at night, don't follow the drinking track,
   Every day is your last battle, the final dare,
   Every hour is the beginning of the attack.
  
   A stone slab replaces the open sky,
   No freedom and happiness no more,
   But the state doesn't learn the lesson; who knows why?
   And sends its youth to die, what for?
  
   And you are left alone to look, and wonder why,
   At the screen and its images of war;
   How more friends are sent to die,
   How they sell the prophetic dreams you once saw.
  
   And the commanders will shout the same,
   That soldiers will be protected to the last,
   But the journey home will start again,
   And boys will have to choose their path.
  
   Only the choice here is small,
   You see from war there is only one way
   That each will return home again if at all,
   So let their war return them alive, someday!
  
   Mikhail Diukov "We don't exist anymore"
  
   We don't exist anymore,
   We all lie under the snow:
   Someone's grandfather before,
   Reckless youth departs,
   We completed the way in one go,
   We warmed the snow with the heat of our hearts.
  
   We don't exist anymore,
   Although, above us the sky
   And clouds with a sigh
   Swim somewhere in the distance, somewhere far unknown,
   And at home waits a small glass with black bread
   And pity those who wait for us never to return.
  
   We don't exist anymore,
   Only the songs remained, you see,
   Which we
   Will sing no more to you,
   The sky cracks with a resonant thunderstorm before
   Everybody is washed away by the pouring rain and all they knew.
  
   We don't exist anymore
   And scattered by wind
   Cigarette smoke we saw
   Of our abandoned friends,
   We will go, and you will follow behind on foot my friend...
   Together we'll pay a simple visit to God, unburdened.
  
   Dmitrii Mikhal'tsev "You did not die my friend"
  
   We see off friends, we forgive enemies.
   At the moment of death, they have such little time to linger,
   To stay amongst us, in our passing dreams.
   Just for one more moment, to stay a little longer.
  
   You did not die my friend, you simply went away...
   Like migrating birds, flying to the South.
   I know, that up there you are ok,
   I am on the mortal earth, and for you
   I will silently pray.
  
   You did not leave fate, you did not cheat her.
   Where does the journey end, on earth? - where did you go to the sky?
   Who will sing a parting song on the road there?
   Who can tell us? None of those alive have been there to die.
  
   You did not die my friend, you simply went away...
   Like migrating birds, flying to the South.
   I know, that up there you're ok,
   I am on the mortal earth, and for you
   I will silently pray.
  
   God takes in his hands those who he needs,
   Who in their lifetime, carried out their earthly duties true.
   You abandoned the fires, took the eternal darkness, such deeds,
   You took a step to the line, where it only remained to remember you...
  
   You did not die my friend, you simply went away...
   Like migrating birds, flying to the South.
   I know, that up there you're ok,
   I am on the mortal earth, and for you
   I will silently pray.
  
   Dmitrii Mikhal'tsev "Mad battle"
  
   On the turret the Red Star melts,
   The armour trembles in its death-throes,
   Eyes are fixed on a distant spot
   And fingers tightly gripped the controls,
   The hot ebonite smokes,
   A steep curve on the rise
   And groaning from the caterpillar tracks,
   Into the headset fly the cries
   Of the all-embracing attack.
  
   The mad battle, the heat, and the howling of missiles, not ours.
   They fly overhead, and behind us make their mark for hours.
   I put my foot on the gas, I fire the afterburner, I force the gears into drive,
   I pray to God at this time, that he will preserve the tracks and keep us alive.
   That it is impossible to leave this battle, the guys will not understand,
   And if there is anything to bury, the guys will not find it across this land.
  
   Hold out and survive until the forest -
   Was the one order to everyone.
   A long life is so near, just down this short road,
   And laughter falls from the lips.
   Adrenaline boils in the blood,
   The fear cools, you see
   I need the cross, I do...
   I know. He will bury me...
   I listen. He talks to me - I will protect you...
  
   Gennadii Nord "Bread"
  
   Six days in the trench on the damp earth, the battle, and the early morning hunger without a bed.
   And on the seventh through the bitter haze they issued us each a loaf of bread.
   The battalion commander said, screwing up his eyes, to the battalion's remaining company whom he led,
   I beg you, sons, do not eat it at all at once, and then meekly die for bread.
  
   It was a fascist, that made his way to us, so ferocious,
   But we knew - we would crush his flanks, so atrocious
   For this hardship with bread from rye,
   For a house by the river and clouds in the sky.
  
   Gradually I cut off a piece, and chewed it that quickly, so a thief would not find it.
   And I hid the rest in a little sack so the stomach would not get accustomed to eat.
   It started snowing harder and, having breathed deeply the smoke of dawn,
   Put my hand in the sack for a new piece of bread, and rustled around, but there was no bread, it had gone.
  
   It was a fascist, that made his way to us, so ferocious,
   But we knew - we would crush his flanks, so atrocious
   For this hardship with bread from rye,
   For a house by the river and clouds in the sky.
  
   I quietly announced my arrival to the sergeant-major and, having tightened my belt,
   "In war, as in war: as with bread, as without bread - everything is grave," I felt.
   The commander, having taken a revolver from his holster, shouted he would shoot dead without tribunal,
   Whoever picked his pockets, and wearily ordered me to find the scum and wipe off his smile.
  
   It was a fascist, that made his way to us, so ferocious,
   But we knew - we would crush his flanks, so atrocious
   For this hardship with bread from rye,
   For a house by the river and clouds in the sky.
  
   The bread was found in the sack of a young boy, who had taken refuge in a quilted jacket from the severe cold,
   And his look touched me, so the bread was not discovered was what I told.
   Sweeping away life, like the ninth wave, to us war crippled souls in blood and pain...
   And he lay in the trench and silently sobbed, twitching his shoulders under the rain.
  
   It was a fascist, that made his way to us, ferocious,
   But we knew - we would crush his flanks,
   For this hardship with bran bread,
   For a house by the river and clouds in the sky.
  
  
  
  
   Notes
  
   Kukushka = cuckoo, which is Russian slang for a sniper.
  
   The plane that carried bodies home from Afghanistan was nicknamed the "Black Tulip" by soldiers.
  
   VDV, Vozdushno-Desantnie Voiska - Russian for `Airborne Troops', i.e. paratroopers.
  
   Aul - Chechen for village
  
   "Cargo 200" A nickname given to the dead of Afghanistan and Chechnya, after the Ministry of Defence order 200, for the preparation of body bags..
  
   See footnote 2.
  
  
   Corrected and edited by (22.01.2005):
   Tomas Duerden. (yjmsy78(AT)ucl.ac.uk)

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