The last reader | Russians are crazy / Rael Salvador

By: Rael Salvador

We always said they were crazy, just like that, like someone who wants to laugh at their own stupid things and, at the same time, recognize the value of vodka in the cold and in war.

Whoever Professor Domingo Bañaga was, an old avowed bibliophile – who died a few years ago -, in his vast and valuable private library housed one of the most documented collections on the First and Second World War, as well as other conflagrations of the terrible, for not speak only of lewd kings, desert lions and ruthless generals.

When I settled into his living room, he his coffee and his experiences, I my mate and the readings, we talked about national and international politics: the excesses of the inhuman, the terrorism that gobbles up the flesh and the onerous pothole of misery where they have us half soul involved; and in the end, we always finished off with the Russians, and then we harangued that these comrades were indeed crazy.

“Thirsty Russians make madness their best weapon,” he told me.

And the expression is not gratuitous; it is based on an endless number of narratives and testimonies that give historical validity to what would seem rude on our part.

When Svetlana Alexievich (Ukraine, 1948) received in 2015 the Nobel Prize for Literature –rewarding her precious polyphonic conception of lucid and painful journalism–, we took up the black thread of our talks and gave ourselves to the reading of “War has no face of a woman ”(Debate), intimate revelations of the females on the battlefield, and, between contrite and saddened –by the forced feast of blood and the cracking of drifting skulls, as if hatred had no other frozen sound–, we rediscover once again our howling madness already referred to.

Thus we understood why the madder, Vladimir Putin, refused to congratulate the author of “The End of the Red Man” (Cliff) and an uncomfortable chronicler of the Great Patriotic War.

Well, that “we understood” is just a rhetorical compliment: never in the Russian language has a Nobel Prize for Literature been awarded other than a dissident of the system: Bunin? Pasternak? Sholokhov? Solzhenistsyn? Brodsky? Of course.

“I don’t hate the Russian people; on the contrary, I respect their literature and their science, but not the world of Stalin and Putin, and I also do not like that 84 percent of Russians who call for the killing of Ukrainians “, declares the author with courage.

I know the important figure of Alexievich, as well as his work “Voices of Chernobyl” (Debate), written with the indelible ink of radioactive tears, in a tragedy that barely assimilates his misfortune at the dawn of the incident.

I recap that, fifteen years ago, I met Svetlana Alexievich, when I made my inquiry into the murder of the also Russian journalist Anna Politkóvskaya (investigation that I published in the book “Untimely Obituaries. Life and Death of Albert Camus, Anna Politkóvskaya and Facundo Cabral” , Word Collection, 2014), who put on the international table the abuses of Moscow in the Chechen war and died of four shots in the elevator of his house – including a “coup de grace”, to ensure that, indeed, they have killed the named person – October 7, 2006, the same day as Putin’s birthday.

In his speech to receive the Nobel Prize in Stockholm, Alexievich remembers her, recognizing that “the poetics of tragedy is important”, without forgetting that writers are always vulnerable in dictatorships.

So the world, so the Russians, so my dialogues “those” with Professor Domingo: so the immune disaster of our own existence.

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The last reader | Russians are crazy / Rael Salvador