H Πωλίνα Βίκτοροβνα Ζερεμπτσόβα (ρωσ. Полина Викторовна Жеребцова), γεννήθηκε στις 20 Μαρτίου 1985 – στην πρωτεύουσα της Τσετσενίας, Γκρόζνι, της τότε ΕΣΣΔ. Είναι συγγραφέας και ποιήτρια. Στην γραφίδα της ανήκουν τα Ημερολόγια και τα Διηγήματα της Τσετσενίας, τα οποία έχουν μεταφραστεί σε πολλές ξένες γλώσσες
Η ίδια θεωρεί τον εαυτό της κοσμοπολίτη, αφού έλκει την καταγωγή της από διάφορες εθνικότητες. Το συγγραφικό της έργο ανήκει στη σχολή της ιστορικής τεκμηρίωσης. Έχει τιμηθεί με το βραβείο “Γιάνους Κορτσάκ“, ήταν στην μικρή λίστα του βραβείου “Αντρέι Σάχαροφ” για “την δημοσιογραφία ως γενναιότητα”.
Το 1994 η Πωλίνα ξεκίνησε να γράφει τα ημερολόγιά της, στα οποία κατέγραφε όλα όσα συνέβαιναν γύρω της. Τα Ημερολόγια καλύπτουν την παιδική της ηλικία, την εφηβεία και τη νεότητα, κατά την διάρκεια των οποίων έγιναν οι τρεις πόλεμοι της Τσετσενίας. Το 2004 ολοκλήρωσε τη συγγραφή του Ημερολογίου της Τσετσενίας. Ήταν μόλις 19 ετών.
Την 21η Οκτωβρίου τραυματίστηκε από θραύσματα βολών πυροβολικού στην Κεντρική Αγορά του Γκρόζνι.
Το 2002 ξεκίνησε να εργάζεται ως δημοσιογράφος.
Το 2003 – 2004 φοίτησε στη Σχολή Ανταποκριτών.
Το 2013 ζήτησε και έλαβε πολιτικό άσυλο στην Φινλανδία.
Με τίτλο :
Πωλίνα Ζερεμπτσόβα: έζησε και κατέγραψε τον πόλεμο στην Τσετσενία
δημοσιεύτηκε στο the Book’s Journal η συνέντευξη που έδωσε στον Δημήτρης Β. Τριανταφυλλίδης
Η ίδια με πολύ αγάπη και εμπιστοσύνη μας στέλνει 3 διηγήματά της στην αγγλική γλώσσα για δημοσίευση. Δημοσιεύουμε το ΖΑΙΝΑ θα ακολουθήσουνε τα επόμενα δυο. Μπορείτε να το διαβάσετε παρακάτω. Τις επόμενες ημέρες θα πραγματοποιηθεί συνέντευξη που θα δώσει στο Ινστιτούτο Πειραματικών Τεχνών.
Polina Zherebtsova was born in 1985 in Grozny and lived there for almost twenty years. She considers herself a cosmopolitan as she has multi-national ancestry. Polina’s father died when she was very young. In 1994, Polina started keeping a diary in which she recorded what was happening around her. Her diaries cover her childhood, adolescence and youth that witnessed three Chechen wars. In 2006, she was awarded the JanuszKorczak international prize in Jerusalem in two categories (narrative and documentary prose). In 2012, she was awarded The Andrei Sakharov Award “For Journalism as an Act of Conscience”.
In our yard lived a woman named Zaina, a night with whom could be bought. Not necessarily for money. In a difficult hour for the motherland she would let Chechen militants in, hanging the flag of Ichkeria in the window as an identification mark.
The flag was beautiful, green, with a fluffy wolf lying in the middle of it. Zaina didn’t charge much for her service: a bowl of flour and a jar of pickles.
And after the guests left her chambers, Zaina put on a scarf, covering her orange curls and hurried to share some of the earned food with children and the elderly who lived nearby.
When the enemy forces in the shape of the Russian military advanced, and the militants had to go beyond the border of their territories, Zaina welcomed the invaders with equal hospitality. Russian men brought canned meat and jam in small pots, and after they left, the woman did as she was used to: she shared food with invalids and families of multiples.
That is why, constantly whispering and calling her a whore behind her back and not seeing a human in her, all our area exercised tolerance for Zaina.
Most of the male population used her services: such women are a big rarity in Chechnya, since such behaviour usually merits death.
A brother, uncle or the father kills such a Muslim. Nobody would ever condemn the murderers. On the contrary, they will be respected and honoured by the people. And the militia would come to shake their hand and say in a rolling voice: “Assalamualaikum!”
But Zaina didn’t have relatives. No father, mother, brothers or sisters who could kill her. Or defend her from such a life. It was known that she was born in the mountains of Dagestan, spoke Chechen and changed flags in her windows depending on the territorial changes in the Russian Federation. Even her age was a riddle. With an experienced eye the local righteous women estimated her as having entered her fourth decade.
– She is beautiful because she didn’t give birth yet! – angrily commented the gossips in their long dressing gowns and robes.
And their faces would become distorted as if in a mirror that didn’t withstand the impact of a male hand and cracked across its lengh and the breadth. Zaina wore trousers, almost the only ones in the whole city. This was also considered an unheard of shame!
Nobody would allow Zaina to give birth: by local traditions such a woman is unworthy to carry a child in her womb.
In ordinary families by the age of forty the woman becomes old. How else? She has eight to nine chidlren. At fifteen she must marry, it means at about thirty and a bit she is already a grandma.
A different notion of time, youth.Different mores.Mountainous.
Zaina the beauty managed to outlive the times of harsh Shariah persecutions: someone else would have been shot of course, stoned or beaten with sticks, but not her. Severe Muslim clerics wandered into our courtyard for investigations, but, having seen the blue-eyed giggler Zaina, they started laughing back and disappeared into her small flat for several hours.
Slim, like a minitiature statue, the beauty enchanted them from first sight. She liked dance and music. She quickly and tastily made oriental dishes.
Having left the woman for sale, the clerics tried to leave as soon as possible, so that people would not notice their faces with long beards and not start making obcene jokes about them.
– Here everybody knows about everyone! – said Antie Mariam once. – Who came from where, who looked at who, why…
– How did Zaina end up in our courtyard? – I asked, looking at the red-haired giggler from the kitchen window, where we made plovwith Mariam the neighbour.
– Ramzes brought her. He found her somewhere. She was happy, she thought maybe he would marry her. But his relatives forbade him from even thinking about it! And if the relatives don’t give their consent, nobody would go against their will.
Ramses was a Chechen, our neigbour from the second floor. He lived with Zaina for some time as his concubine and passed her on to his friends, like a pack of inexpensive cigarettes.
Zaina was given somebody’s flat, which in troubled times was abandoned by some Russian family, and she lived in it was if it was her own, and Ramses would sometimes say hello to her if he was sure that none of his neighbours could see. But of course nothing like this has ever happened in Chechnya before: everybody has eyes like saucers.
It’s a custom in Chechnya to keep the door unlocked. Even if it has a lock– no point locking it. Nobody knocks, they just come in. They are neigbours!
– Auntie Mariam, we need an iron! –the Avarian girls ran in from the top floor and not waiting for an answer, snatched the thing and took it to their place.
The door just slammed…
– It’s me. I came to get some water! – oldAkhmed rattles the buckets, going into the washroom passing us by.
– Mariam, I’m just going to put down my bag in the corridor, – shouts somebody invisible. –
And my brother will come in an hour to pick it up!
Based on the voice, this must be the neighbour Zalina from the house opposite.
And so it goes all day.
– When we first moved, – remembered Mama, chopping the onions for the plov, – we never used to lock our door. Only if we went to the shop and there was no one at home. It’s a bother to keep opening it: they knock every five minutes. Children and adults! They either come to ask how we are, or bring food or ask for something. I’ve never lived anywhere so amicably! I’ve grown to love this custom with all my heart.
To be honest, I didn’t share Mama’s delight. I felt that everybody should enjoy their peace, everyone needs their space, but, in fear of being slapped, I kept my thoughts to myself.
The plov on that summer day turned out to be amazing, and the adults decided to give some to Zaina who was pottering around her entrance way.
Zaina acted quietly in someone else’s house, and only if asked, she would start to tell short funny stories, as if her whole life was one endless holiday, and everyone else lived in war and sorrow.
– Oh, what a fool I was, – Zaina was telling with a smile. – When I was young, I used to forget to lock the door. Just as my guest was ready for earthly joy, took off his pants, his female neighbour appeared at the door, she ran in without knocking in order to ask to borrow some sugar or salt. One man from the ministry got so frightened having seen his aunt, that he hit his back on the table… Something cracked inside him. And they carried the unluckly guy out on a stretcher, and his aunt was running after him and hitting him with socks…
– How did you get to have this kind of life? – Mama was surprised. – Somebody must have tricked you. You came across a scoundrel. You got married, divorced and the relatives didn’t take you back?
But Zaina only laughted and answered nothing about her youth.
During the Second Chechen War, which was really the Third, Zaina hung the flag with the wolf again. During deep autumn the flag was ripped by shrapnel, but she didn’t remove it because she didn’t have a new one. The shells exploded right by the entrance way, and we waited for a quiet period, so that we could run out and gather some snow for drinking.
Once they fired so strongly, that it seemed that the missles moved towards the houses in a dotted line and would reduce the residences together with us into dust. What does a person feel at this time, suffocating from the paint, flaking from the walls and the ceiling? The house is shaking from explosions, as if from a sixrichter earthquake, and twitches like a beaten up dog. And you are lying inside this construction on the wooden floor, remembering some fragments from your life. You are trying to paint up with them the black emptiness of the darkness, swallowing up all that is alive.
On the next street at the moment of shooting there were a husband and a wife: Akhmed the Chechen and his Russian wife Irina had been living together for thirty five years. In the beginning, before the First war, nobody knew who is what nationality – nobody ever spoke about it. It was only known that their only son had died in a car crash.
And then all of a sudden it became known that Grandpa Akhmed’s wife was Russian. Some neigbours after this discovery started to ask acidly if we was going to kick her out of the house. But having received from Grandpa Akhmed either a bucket of slops or a stick on the neck, they shut up and greeted him respectfully at the next encounter.
Their street which was private houses, changed hands: the militants stepped away behind the garages with their mobile cannon, and the Russians moved in with APCs, having started to fire from all sorts of weapons. The old couple could not put out the fires in their burning house and were hiding in the corridor which had more solid walls.
And Zaina was lying on the snow, having not made it to the door of the celler where they wanted to hide: it was not possible to raise your head head and crawl on all fours, so strong was the shooting. The woman saw the house of the elderly on fire, but it was impossible to call for help in such a racket. Nobody could hear themselves speak.
The old woman Irina in a burning dressing gown appeared at the doorstep unexpectedly. She shouted something, waving her hands, and disappeared again inside her small burning house.
The armoured vehicle targeted its cannon at this house. The soldiers who jumped out of the military car, had began firing at the house of the elderly people with machine guns, thinking probably that it was from there that the fire of the militants was coming.
The people from the celler saw what was happening from a small hole in the wall and froze up, understanding that the old couple was going to die now. And at this very second Zaina jumped up and not paying attention to the explosives blowing up near her, she ran to the APCs.
– Wait! There are people living there! – she shouted. – Don’t shoot!
Looking through the hole in the wall, the surviving residents of our houses could not believe what was happening. In her permanent trousers, in a light unbuttoned coat, having lost a scarf in the chaos, Zaina was protecting someone else’s burning home with her own body.
Her red hair was falling down on her skinny shoulders in big twirls, her blue eyes were burning and she seemed incredibly beautiful in the midst of hell.
The Russian soldiers even stopped firing from something so unexpected, and the militants also quieted their cannon behind the garages.
Zaina rushed into the house and dragged out Grandpa Akhmed, suffocating from smoke, and then Grandma Irina who had managed to take off the burning dressing gown and now was covering herself up in a old dark-green coat.
– People live here?! – the soldiers were asking each other in some bewilderment.
Then one of them came closer to the old couple and shouted:
– Where are your documents?
– There! – pointed Grandma Irina with her hand at the cracked black shell of the house. – If you want to search, don’t be shy, go straight there!
Having taken advantage of the quite period, Akhmed, Irina and Zaina hurried to the cellar. Nobody stopped them.
Russian soldiers and the militants kept on fighting.
In a while the news of the brave deed of the woman for sale rattled around all the neighbourhood.
– You are so brave! – people would say to Zaina upon meeting her, but when they turned, they whispered: – Anyway, everybody knows who she is. One good deed is not going to overturn the history of her youth.
And Zaina would still sing songs and laugh and once she came to my mother to take a tarot reading. Mama has given it up a long time ago but Zaina insisted. She said it was a matter of life and death.
– Tell me if I’m going to die young? I don’t want to live till I’m old! – Zaina kept on saying. – An old woman ends her age surrounded by grandchilden, but what kind of old woman would I be? It won’t work! I’m not capable!
Mama was laying out cards in the shape of a fan and looking at them attentively.
– I see that you have had a hard life. But it’s going to pass. It’ll change. You are going to meet a good man. And you are going to have a house, and you will be old, and you are going to have grandchildren and great grandchildren.
– It’s not true!
– It’s true! The cards have never cheated me. I have sinned because of you since I promised never to read cards again.
– I’m going to have grandchildren for sure? – Zaina became wistful.
– For sure. I can see, there is going to be a small boy, but not your son, a grandson. He is going to love you a lot. You are going to play with him. And a girl, in pink dress. A tiny one… Wait a minute, are you pregnant?!
Zaina took a bite of a biscuit which was sitting beside her on a chair. And then we noticed that she was crying. However, she immediately started to smile through her tears, so that nobody would think anyting bad of her. She hid behind a glass of water.
– Do you want me to read you my poems? – I asked.
The noise, coming through the silence.
The time that doesn’t exist.
Somebody made up a war
Which lasts for a hundred thousand years.
Somebody gave the names for some reason
And separated centuries.
In the world where there is always war,
The clouds are cursed.
Each one who had been born took a ticket,
And each one of us will die.
You choose if you want to come out toward the light
Or fall on ice.
It became quiet.
– Go away!– Mama advised me. – The poets in Russia lived and wrote better than you and they all died in poverty. Nobody needs your poems.
– I just wanted…
– Thanks! – said Zaina. And smiled. And then, getting embarrassed, she added: – I got married at the age of thirteen. I didn’t know life. I was trying to please those older than me. I was beaten up. For disobedience my husband broke my ribs – he didn’t like they way I answered our neighbour. I was lying in hospital. I lost a child… I remember how my husband kicked me and his sister and his mother were in another room. Nobody came to help me. And I was shouting: “I don’t love you! I’ve never loved you!” This is how I lost consciousness… I didn’t come back to my relatives after the hospital, I ran away. I didn’t forgive them. I’m still in hiding. My real name is Aminat.
– We won’t tell anybody! – Mama said at once, having given me a close look.
– Now that my whole life has gone by its not going to change anything.
– Yes, it will. The cards say that you are going to be alright. You are going to have light in the second half of your life, whereas in the first you had darkness..
Zaina stayed for a little bit more and left. Weeks passed. The neighbours asked each other what happened to our giggly one. Nobody knew. We, being busy with our things, also started to forget her golden red curls and blues eyes, until one day we came across old Irina and Akhmed in the market place. They had moved to their distant relatives in the village and were hardly seen in the city.
– Zaina has disappeared! – we announced.
The old man made and sign and changed the subject. But the old woman couldn’t hold it in and said:
– Zaina has changed her name and gave birth to a child. Its uncertain times now. But there is something good in them too: one can get lost and start a new life. We did what we could to support her.
And the old couple, wishing us to get home before the shooting start, went back to their car.
An oriental rice dish.