Download Boys in Zinc by Svetlana Alexievich, Andrew Bromfield (trans.) PDF

By Svetlana Alexievich, Andrew Bromfield (trans.)

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Afterwards you can’t tell anyone about it. It’s like it’s all behind a sheet of glass … Behind a wall of rain … As if you’re having a terrible dream. You wake up in fright and you can’t remember a thing. It turns out that to feel the horror you have to remember it, get used to it. After two or three weeks there’ll be nothing of the old you left, just your name. You aren’t you any longer, but someone else. I think that’s how it is … Clearly that’s it. And that someone else … That person isn’t frightened any longer by the sight of someone who’s been killed.

You’re our universe’ – ‘Big seabirds with one leg hopping along the seashore’ – ‘He’s dead, he’s no one’s any more. ’ That night I have a dream: our soldiers are leaving, going back to the Soviet Union, and I’m one of the people seeing them off. I walk up to one boy. He has no tongue; he’s mute after being in captivity. His hospital pyjamas protrude from under his army tunic. I ask him about something, but all he does is write his name: ‘Vanechka … Vanechka …’ I can make out his name so clearly – Vanechka.

I push them aside. I don’t know a single man who came back from there and didn’t drink and smoke. Weak cigarettes are no good to me. I look for Hunter’s, which are what we used to smoke out there. But the doctors forbid me to smoke. Half my head’s made of metal. And I can’t drink … Only don’t write about our ‘Afghani’ brotherhood. It doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in it. At the war we were all united: we were deceived in exactly the same way, we wanted to live in exactly the same way and we wanted to go home in exactly the same way.

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