I wouldn’t be able to tell about this lady any better than Andrey Belokonniy did in his post https://www.facebook.com/andrei.belokonniy/posts/2377164635651839
I’ll just leave my translation of his thoughts here. The only thing I could add is Tatyana is 90 y.o. Nikitishna.
February 20, 2019 I and a young guy from Texas (Wes Hawthorne) went from Zaporozhye to Krasnogorovka (through Marinka, in Donetsk region). He is not an OSCE representative, not a professional journalist and not yet known politician to plan in advance a special inspection of the front line. But somewhere out there on the Internet, this guy has a blog that is read by people from around the world. By the way, this is how in English (as I understand it), the first line of demarcation or military fortifications between the conflicting parties is called – the front, and the border, it is something consonant with our “curb” (and the word “border guards” they sound about as “the guys by a curb” :)) in this case, I consider my lack of knowledge of English as a gain or something good, as well as my friend’s lack of knowledge of Russian.
Because at some point, (closer to Kurakhovo), modern technology with electronic translators stop working and there is an opportunity to get impressions of what he saw, without “pepper and salt” commentators, watching the expression of emotions on the faces of interlocutors, listening to the intonation of the voice.
Our trip was born spontaneously, during the next tea party I tried to find out from Wes, whether he realizes that the Ukrainian war, by American standards of distances, is “around the corner”? Whether he wants to see a residential area where on the streets there are huge piles of the broken roof tiles. Whether he wants to push his hand into the hole of a concrete fence which has appeared after explosion. And whether he wants to insert fingers into the metal gates and gate torn by splinters? Walk around the walls, riddled with deadly remnants of mines and shells? See with your own eyes the apartment, half destroyed houses, in which either there is no windows at all or there are wooden plates instead of windows, where people still live practically without community services. ⁃
“Tomorrow is your birthday, I can make you such a gift, a trip to the war and, if you’re lucky, on the same day we’ll go back” – I told him. ⁃ “Yes, I’m ready, it’s very interesting!” he said, being truly delighted.
We approached the border of the Donetsk region, louder became the sound of the tires of the vehicle, indicating the frequent use of asphalt tracked military equipment. This is something similar to the sound that makes the wheel of the car when you go on a highway and run into a specially applied longitudinal noise strip at the edge of the road. The closer to the boundary line the richer the sound effect, because all the roads have become longitudinal and transverse noise bands.
At all the checkpoints I, as the driver, was shown by the militaries the place where I should stay, I opened the window (sometimes a door), the military came to me and asked (in Ukrainian) where we were going, I replied (in Russian) that we were going to the grandmother in Krasnogorovka and we were able to go. Wes wondered why they did not check the documents, to which I replied, – “we’re the good guys, go to Donetsk on the car with Donetsk license plates, why would we need documents or the inspection of the car?”
So we got to the last settled on the road in the open field checkpoint. I drove up close and said, “here is the gate to the DPR, here is the end of government of Ukraine.”
From this section of the road, as well as from the road leading from Marinka to Krasnogorovka, you can clearly see the terricons (artificial mountains made by the miners out of the ground taken from the underground, it’s basically the leftover product of the coal mines, Dima) and some mine outbuildings, which now serve as defensive and observation points of the DPR army. A person with normal vision can see through the field electrical poles, trees and even the number of thick branches in the crowns of these trees. I do not want to believe that someone is watching you through the sight of a weapon on the other side. On both sides of the road there are signs with skulls painted on them and warning about the danger of the land mines written in Russian and English. Somewhere on these signs are written that under any circumstances people must not leave the road even in case of danger.
I was, in fact, on my way to Krasnogorovka to the familiar grandmother, (I carried her a small grocery set), and also had huge pleasure from a meeting with the person close to me from Marianka. I offered to my American friend to get not only emotions from what he saw, but also to take part in the life of at least one, really hungry, living on the front line man. I offered to buy for him\her a small grocery set.
We are familiar with Dima (Dmitry Pashchenko) and warming the house, body and soul, the Affairs of the Charity Fund Kind House so I asked Dima to find so-called beneficiary for Wes. Having established telephone communication with the social worker from Marianka, we met, and went to Nikitishna. Along the way, I listened to a story about the hard life of a lonely, ninety-year-old woman, mixed with frequent expressions of gratitude for the coal brought to the elderly.
“Here if there would be not Dima with coal we had not know what to do”, – told social worker several times, in different interpretations. On the entrance gate sticker with the image of the Pope, a small courtyard, a small house. The entrance door is made of white metal-plastic window profile with two sandwich panels of the same color. There is a lock on the door but the door is not locked. We enter without knocking. According to the Slavic custom we bow down at the threshold , (the door is low) (Here Andrey is playing with words. They mean both – there is an old tradition to bow down by the entrance to show respect to the owner of a house. But in his case he did it because the door hole was really low, Dima) .
Directly opposite the front door, just around the corner, on a chair, facing the entrance sits, wrapped in several layers of old clothes, landlady. The light is not turned on, there is a little window a meter behind her. It’s noon outside but it’s twilight in the house. There is nothing in the hands of the elderly, there is nothing on the floor in front of her. I had a feeling that she has been sitting like this for her entire life in front of the door waiting for something. …
Having heard how we say Hello or watching someone comes into the house, Nikitishna struggled out of her chair. She does not bow at the entrance – I thought to myself after evaluating her height. I was putting out the package of food on the table and the social worker was speaking out loud that she doesn’t have to be hungry anymore, that guys have brought some food.
Not moving and not sitting down on a chair, Nikitishna began to Express her gratitude in Ukrainian language. She was telling that she does not see well, so she does everything on touch. And later she will touch out all the products to realize what they are. She looked at us through the Soviet Union glasses, with very thick, worn out (or just dirty) lenses, at that moment it seemed to me that she was from completely another dimension – It was us who could see her and hear her, she had to make great effort to establish contact with us.
“How do you live here during the war?” – the social worker asked the old lady, probably suspecting our interest in this question.
“This is the second war in my life. First war I remember well, I was 12 back then. .. I remember everything… And now when they start shooting I think to myself should get down to the basement or should I stay here, because there is a chance that I couldn’t get out from the basement…… What to do? …” – Nikitishna said.
Fear in her voice could not be heard, her hands did not tremble only it was clear that it was hard for her to stand. It is very difficult to describe my feelings and experiences in such moments, and now I’m trying to “swallow a lump in my throat.” Do you know the feeling when you, with full awareness of what is happening, ready to kneel in front of a person? In the cool dusk of the room the only thing that remained on the foot was my body, my soul fell down. I began to wish blessings aloud to Nikitishna security from the Lord, intending to go faster, and she finally says: “Can you tell me when it’s all over? Maybe one day someone will come to me and tell me it’s all over? …”
Further, bowing on the way out, I and the social worker told the standard answers and phrases. Wes was shown the wonderful coal shed again expressed thanks to Dima and willingness to cooperate with us.
The social worker returned to the house, and we went to Krasnogorovka. There my familiar elderly prepared a fresh borsch, cooked the dumplings made by hands and fed us “to a dump”, saying thus that waits for our arrival for a long time and regretting that we today we have to leave.
Our way back was as easy as it was there. Wes was trying to keep the balance while trying not to fall asleep. And I was imagining different variations of the front door of Nikitishna opened…. And such a welcome for her phrase is said, – “it’s all over…”