Родился в 1966 г. в Цхинвале. Окончил Душанбинское художественное училище имени М. Олимова. Служил в рядах Вооруженных Сил СССР. Активный участник грузино-осетинских войн 1991-1992 гг., 2004 г., 2008 г. Награжден медалью Южной Осетии «Защитник Отечества». Принимал участие в организации таможенной службы Республики Южная Осетия.
Начал писать в 2006 г. Публиковался в журналах «Дарьял», «Вайнах», «Дружба народов», «Нева» (премирован журналом за лучшую публикацию 2008 г.), «Ковчег», «Бельские просторы», «Сибирские огни», «Юность», газетах «Литературная Россия», «Независимая газета», альманахе «Искусство войны», на интернет-сайтах. Участник Форумов молодых кавказских писателей и молодых писателей России в 2008, 2009 годах. Лауреат «Русской премии» 2008 года. Стипендиат Фонда социально-экономических и интеллектуальных программ. Член Союза писателей Москвы. Автор четырех книг: «Сын», «Отступник», «Судный день» и «Полиэтиленовый город». Награжден золотым почетным знаком «Общественное признание».
В настоящее время живу и учусь в Москве, на сценарном факультете ВГИКа. Автор сценария игровых короткометражных фильмов «Суадон» и «Горячее молоко».
Born in Tskhinval in 1966; a graduate of Dushanbe Art School after M. Olimov; served in the USSR Armed Forces; an active participant of Georgian-Ossetian wars in 1991-1992, 2004, 2008; South Ossetia’s medal “Defender of the Fatherland” awarder; participated in the organization of the Customs Service of the Republic of South Ossetia.
I took up writing in 2006. My works were published in “Daryal”, “Vainakh”, “Druzhba narodov”, “Neva” (the journal’s best publication – 2008 awarder) , “Kovcheg”, “Bellskie prostory”, “Sibirskie ogni” and “Junost” journals, in the newspapers “Literaturnaya Rossiya”, “Nezavissimaya gazeta”, in “Iskusstvo voiny” almanac and on internet sites. A participant of Young Caucasus Writers and Young Writers of Russia Forums in 2008 and 2009; “The Russian Prize-2008” laureate; SEIP (Socail, Economical and Intellectual Programmes) Fund scholar; The Union of Moscow Writers’ member. The author of four books: “The Son”, “The Turncoat”, «Judgement Day» and “The Polyethylene Town” (all published in Russian). Awarded with the Golden Badge of Honour «Public Recognition”.
I currently live in Moscow and study at the scenario faculty of the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography. I wrote scripts to fiction short films “Suadon” (“The Spring») and “Goryachee Moloko” (“Hot Milk”).
When the shooting began Khryak and I ran to the left bank. Khryak was rushing with our machine gun, and I was dinning with cartridge belts in the canisters.
– What a heat! – Khryak exclaimed when we were running across an old bridge. – Let’s have a bathe!
– You’ve got crazy! – I said gulping down the hot air rapidly. – Look, how dirty the water is.
Bullets whistled around, and shells were bursting behind in the town. I was impatient to get to the kindergarten at the edge of the town park from which the Georgians’ positions could be seen.
– I don’t care a damn! – the indefatigable Khryak cried. – On the way back I’ll anyway dive into the Liakhva1!
He stopped suddenly and turning his back to the wood from which the shooting came, bent down imitating a cannon of his ass and fired a volley on the opponent. I ran to the yellow three-storied building of the military commissariat and watched this clown from there. My word upon it, I was thrown into a shiver when he would start acting up. Well, here is his star trick: Khryak gets on the bridge handrail – with our machine gun! – and walks along it like an acrobat. But an acrobat isn’t shot at while shifting carefully on the tense rope. He doesn’t take the risk of falling down into a seething mountain river, and he is applauded by the audience. Besides, his safety is ensured. Fuck, but you are not an acrobat! I feel as though you are treading on my bare nerves, and I, your only spectator (the left-bank district boys aren’t to be seen for a long time) would slap on your empty pate with all my might if I were not afraid to be answered in kind. And what are you ensured with, Khryak? With your own folly – that’s it! What a friend has fallen to my share: he might fall down with the machine gun any minute. Well, let’s assume he is impatient to feed himself to fish – but why drown the barrel!
I sighed with relief when Khryak jumped down from the high handrail and entered a two-storied brick house across the road. Before the war there used to be a commission shop on the ground floor of this old house. I sometimes dropped in there and looked at old dusty coats and raincoats of leatherette. I sometimes came across leather jackets, though, but not of my size. No, I lie, I simply didn’t have money, or else I would have certainly bought one to sport the new acquisition – or rather, the old stuff – in the square in the evening. Now there is an ammunition depot of the left-bank district there. Khryak emerged from the house carrying a box with cartridges in his hands.
– The asphalt is melting, – he informed examining his new trainers regretfully. – Have you seen the feet getting stuck?
Half of the military commissariat sank in the shade of huge trees the tops of which swayed at the slightest wind puff. We entered the park to recover our breath before the last push.
– And where are the lads? – Khryak asked. – Where have all hidden?
He put the box on the grass and seated himself on it, with the machine gun placed on his bent knees.
– They must be at the funerals, – I replied. – We found missing so many boys after TEC2 yesterday.
– Lie in peace, boys, – Khryak said sadly. – You remember we were the last to come down from there and we didn’t know about our losses yet…
I didn’t listen to his chatter. I had always wanted to pour out before a fight, but I sometimes lingered listening to my sinking heart. Suddenly the colours around became brighter and the shades – denser. And then it all was interwoven in a big brown ball from which there stuck out a pair of feet in torn trainers. The feet were beating out a tap dance, and the circle was jumping before my eyes. The smells of grasses, of the earth dried out after rain, of poplars throwing off down, sank into my nostrils; the nature seemed to let me smell life itself before possible death. I was getting shakes as in fever. My senses became extremely acute.
“One should move!” – I thought. – “Yeah, or one may go crazy!” I looked at Khryak who was still speaking about something.
– Shut your mouth! – I shouted. – Let’s go!
– Up yours, – Khryak smiled and stood up.
I nearly became deaf from the cannonade. Khryak seemed to have been contused, too, because I heard the whistle of the falling mine, but he didn’t.
– Khryak, lie down, a mine! – I cried and lay down flat right into a puddle. I didn’t hear the explosion, but I felt someone get on my back.
– It was me who whistled, – I heard Khryak’s voice. – Do you know why women keep away from you? Because you stoop. I’ll straighten you now.
He jumped a little on my back asking if I felt well. One good turn deserves another. Last time I did the same with him, but he was doing push-ups at that…
We were just passing by the boxing school of which only grey walls were left when it whistled again.
– Well, this is stupid, – I said. – One doesn’t laugh twice at the same joke…
I was thrown aside by an explosion and covered with all sorts of trash.
Khryak dragged me to the hospital on himself. It looked as if he had gone mad: he beat the doctors and nurses when they tried to explain him something. Every minute he ran up to the medical table where I had been put and told me not to worry about anything because the best surgeon was to come soon and everything would be all right then. “The best” appeared and looking askance at Khryak who leveled his gun at him, ripped my belly open.
The doctor didn’t bother with my guts long. As soon as Khryak went out of the operating room on need, the surgeon ran away leaving me with my unstitched belly.
Some time later I was brought home3. Mother met me with lamentations:
– I knew you would have an end like this, sonny. People, look, what has been done with him! You were always unruly and did everything to break my heart. Every time you ran away from the house with your machine gun where there was shooting I said goodbye to you in my thoughts, and when you returned I felt happy and proud that I had such a son. When there was a rumour about Tskhinval that somebody had been killed and you were not at home at the time, I was rushing around the town like mad inquiring the fallen’s names. But then I got used to, I was exhausted and my heart hardened. I’ve even no tears left to mourn over you, my child. If you had only married, sonny, I found a girl for you then, remember? But you didn’t like her for some reason. And the one you loved went away from here. But you still wanted to win her heart with your feats. You were a real hero but her parents hated you. They still wouldn’t have married their daughter to you. They are wealthy people, and who are you? A poor man’s son. What was said about you, my child! You were called a killer and a drug addict because you swallowed tablets and your bravery seemed quite unusual to many people. It would have never occurred to anyone that you had a weak heart. You always had these tablets in your pocket in case of attack. May I show them? Do you see?
The following day Mother said it stank from me awfully and it would be better to nail down the lid of the coffin in which I had been put. Khryak wouldn’t hear of it at first, but having sat up a night with the boys in the same room with me4, he came to the same conclusion.
I was buried in the yard of School No.55. The tired lads raised their machine guns sluggishly and each discharged a magazine in the sky.
The cemetery where my mortal remains lay grew. Especially after the war when bloody clear-ups among boys came to a boil. Each time the number of the saluting6 reduced and the number of the tombstones increased. Of course, there were brought coffins from Abkhazia7 and North Ossetia8, but not many. God of war favoured us. It was the yard of this school that front-line fighters strove to get to, because it is somehow more honourable, and the lads are familiar.
The dead pressed up the school but there was nowhere to bury yet, and the Zguder cemetery started working again. We were visited at first. But those who visited us lay down nearby themselves and our graves grassed…
Comments on the story:
1the Liakhva (the Big Liakhva) – a mountain river in South Ossetia; originates in the mountains of South Ossetia and flows into the Caspian Sea.
2TEC [tek] – a height on the frontier between South Ossetia and Georgia at the eastern outskirts of Tskhinval (the capital of South Ossetia), which gained strategic importance during the Georgian-Ossetian war (1989-2008). Fierce battles took place in TEC in June 1992.
3In South Ossetia a dead family member is kept in the house usually for three days before being buried; people come to express condolences not only on the official funeral’s day but also throughout all this period.
4South Ossetians do not leave the deceased alone in the room, either in the daytime or at night. Family members, kinsfolk, neighbours and friends sit near the coffin in turns. They share stories from the dead person’s life and women mourn for him. It is a sort of bidding their farewells to him.
5School No.5 in Tskhinval has acquired sad glory since January 1991 when residents of Tskhinval having no access to the town cemetery Zguder, which was fired by the Georgians, had to seek other safe places for the deceased and started burying them in its schoolyard. A large cemetery has formed there.
6In the war years (1989-2008) in Tskhinval it became a tradition for the fighters to salute firing in the sky when burying their dead friends.
7Fighters from South Ossetia greatly assisted Abkhazia in 1992-1993 in their struggle against Georgian aggression. There were human losses from the South Ossetian party.
8South Ossetian lads who came to the rescue to North Ossetia managed to repulse the Ingush attack when the latter burst upon the North-Ossetian territory (both the Ingush Republic and the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania are federal subjects of Russia) with the intention to capture part of it. The military confrontation lasted 5 days (October 31 – November 4, 1992). There were human losses from the South Ossetian party.