A text from Belarus.
Originally published by Pramen.
We, the cursed by the authorities
It doesn’t matter whether you were born in the Soviet Union or the Republic of Belarus. It doesn’t matter which city, town or village you were born in. We were born next to each other. So close and so far away…
We were not born into the family of an official or owner of a large firm… You and I were born nobody. You and I have been told every day that we are nobodies and we should take our place in this world. Finish school, college, maybe even university and go to work. Work, work, work! Don’t look the other way. Close your eyes if it gets too scary and you’re not strong anymore.
You and me, so different and so alike. Maybe some of us disobeyed and maybe even protested. Some of us have dreamed of a world in which we can stretch our shoulders and live freely. But this power has cursed each of us.
We are cursed by the knowledge that is in our minds and hearts. We remember the dispersal of demonstrations and arrests. We remember looking for each other on detention lists in 2006, 2010, 2017. I remember you helping me after I got fired because people like me don’t belong in a state factory.
This power cursed us when we had to go to prison for years or stay on the other side of the wall. And we lived with the idea that it should have been us. Some of us even left, hoping that the curse could just be forgotten.
But we listened, we tried to forget, we tried to move on. We tried our best, but the curse will never leave you alone. Even if in 2017 one of us took to the streets and the rest of us tried our best to look away. And it’s not our fault. Because we were taught that way.
Because we were born here.
This curse haunted us all the time: when we had to bury our friends and loved ones who died of the coronavirus. And we used to drink vodka, but not to stay healthy. When we helped each other survive without water, and the officials told us fairy tales.
We’re all cursed by the authorities, and all our lives we rush between that curse and trying to get rid of it. But it’s a curse forever. Because no one will forget the broken heads and blood running down the streets we grew up on. The blood that paints the asphalt so vulgarly red that no one will ever forget.
You and I on these streets have dreamed of a free life. And we got rubber bullets and tear gas. We can’t forget the way we get rammed by police cars and blown up by grenades. It will stay with us forever.
We’ll always have to carry with us all the horrors we never wanted. This power kidnaps, tortures and kills our brothers and sisters. It’s the power that makes us scrape our own blood off the steps of the subway.
They tell us that the protest must be peaceful, that we must not give in to provocation and that we must continue to pull our yoke. You and I, so different, but together. And I believe that when they try to beat me or arrest me or kill me, you will not abandon me. I’ve seen you in the streets of Minsk, Grodno, Brest, Baranovichi and dozens of other cities and you didn’t let them grab me.
A friend told me that the only way to break this curse is to make the Palace of the Republic burn in the very den of the beast. At the very heart of our world, you and I have a magical castle that can break this horror.
Don’t think I believe in these superstitions! But I know that this palace will burn like sun!
And if we can’t get rid of this dictatorship now, we can never do it again. Yeah, we can’t break the curse, but we can do everything we can to make sure that those who come after us can breathe full-bodied.
And you know what, dear friends? We’re gonna make this curse be our power. Instead of putting our hands down and going home, we will breathe deeply into the horror of this dictatorship, and it will make us stronger. We will no longer look to the side, we will only look forward, because somewhere beyond the horizon, our freedom awaits.
I know you can hear me. That’s why you and I are going out this Friday at 7:00 p.m. on the streets of our cities with our shoulders wide open. And in the clutch, we’re going to take this world that rightfully belongs to us!
Pramen, August 13, 2020
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