Sunday, March 7, 2010
Chernobyl is the Russian version of "where were you on 9/11." At lunch, my parents and grandparents argued about when they found out. My dad claimed he only knew on May 10th; before that, his friend casually mentioned that "something under Kiev blew up." My mom and grandparents insisted it was common knowledge by May 1st. The Russian government was never keen on spreading news fast; not accurate news, anyway. After May 1st, or 10th, they drove instead of walking to visit my mom's grandmother. But my dad spent a lot of time outdoors that following year. They recalled the yellow rain that they tried to avoid even before knowing its source. The direction of the wind changed at some point. They then correlated the ailments of family and acquaintances to the individuals' proximity to Chernobyl and their occupations in the subsequent years. The conversation was prompted by the dismal region of Bashkiria, by the organic, raw, pesticide-free Bashkirian flower honey my grandmother served with tea. "Do you know where Bashkiria is?" I answered no. "Thank G-d" my dad responded, before my grandfather could geography-lesson me. Those assigned to taming the Chernobyl aftermath were effectively sentenced to death. Something about helicopters dropping chemicals, as the pilots felt a metallic taste in their mouth and an odd sensation on their skin. "Just like the war. Russians had to fight like ants, putting out fires with their bodies. It's funny when Russia talks about human rights."
Posted by SayShenanigans at 9:37 PM