The first story. One Day in October
I love to live life to the full — to feel every moment. I understand this way as the only right way for me after one story. We live and don’t realize that our lives may stop at any point or at any time. I was a 19-year-old girl, have a diploma in nursing and worked as an assistant dentist in the center of Moscow. I intended to study in the Moscow University of Medicine — I wanted to be a doctor. It was in the morning of a day in October 1993, when the coup started. That day should have gone down in history as а White House Assault or The October Uprising or Black October, because a lot of people were killed during tank shelling and the use of firearms.
I was planning to go to the clinic, for my second job shift. The flat where my parents and I lived was a short drive away from the action. I have no car at the time — my parents were relatively poor. Although all is relative in our lives.
When I was coming out of the house, my dad said to me with a funny voice:
— Dodge from bullets!
We laughed out loud. It seemed like fun.
The metro line which goes across Moscow-river was stopped, and I chose the long way… When I was coming out of the underground (from Smolenskaya station), a soldier stopped me.
— Where are you going? Soldier asked.
— I am going to work, I am a nurse.
— They are shooting in the streets. It is so dangerous for you to be there.
— I don’t want to lose my job.
I answered and went away.
— Crazy girl. You can lose your life.
I remembered his words several minutes later. I was walking across the street when I heard long bangs and automatic guns. I just kept walking faster and was feeling strange: I felt like getting inside a wall. I leant against a wall of a house and then ran again. In a few minutes, I was in the clinic and my work shift started. The head nurse strictly counted us and said: Anyone who leaves their duty will be fired and also, those that would not make it here will be fired too. When I was at the registry and was picking up medical records, we heard machine guns over and over again. Then we heard booming explosions which shook the windows in our building. The tanks continued firing the Parliament House. Hell! This place is so dangerous! — I said.
— Anna, get away from the window! — I heard a voice.
I grabbed the papers and ran up the stairs. My doctor, an old woman, ran into a cabinet. It was dark in the streets, yet the ceiling lamps were much bright and we were sitting as ducks; as an open book! I looked at the window and saw two men — they were on the roof of one of the buildings, opposite our building. They had weapons and they looked around the surroundings. Suddenly our eyes contacted and I rushed to the light switch.
— Anna, what are you doing?! — screamed my doctor.
— Please, step away from the window, there are snipers there! — I said to her.
— Where? Are you certain?
In response to her question, we heard machine gun and the windows’ glasses rained down on us. My doctor realized everything at this moment.
— I won’t stay here! I want to leave this place! Quickly! We can reschedule… Let us call all our patients and offer them new dates.
I said “Yes” and in a half-hour time, we could be free.
My way back home took more than four hours. For a start, I needed to get to the subway, but it was not that simple because all nearby stations were closed. When I left the building, I lifted my head and looked at the house where there were two men with guns who shot at our windows a half-hour ago, but I could not find them anymore. Well, go or don’t go?! I wanted to get home and was thinking: “What will be will be, walk down the street’. The streets were deserted; the silence was interrupted by rare shots.
I went down the subway, the metro trains rarely run. I was thinking and I did not hear the question. Judging by the voice, the question was repeated.
— Please show your papers. A male’s voice requested.
— Please produce your identification. Another voice rephrased.
By the time I looked up, I saw two policemen.
— What are you doing here?
— I’m going home from work.
— What kind of work could be done today? All day long the House of Parliament is attacked by tanks and other weapons. Were you coming from the House of Parliament?
— I work at the Central Clinic of the Office of the Presidential Affairs. I am a nurse.
And then I looked at my left hand, my blouse was torn by the broken windows. Then I saw myself through their eyes: I was all dirty and bleeding. It just made me smile.
— This is my special ID and passport. Here, take them.
They checked my documents and said:
— There is a medical point here, come with us. You need medical care.
— I am not bad, thanks. I just want to call my parents. They need to know that I am ok.
— There is a phone in the medical point.
— Oh, that’s great then.
I went into the medical point and called home.
— Hello, dad! It’s me. I am ok… I am coming home. I am at the metro station in the center of the city.
This was great news to my dad! I could feel that dad was so happy.
— I love you and mum! See you soon.
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