Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Chernobyl HBO

I promised myself that I would not write about this series until the last episode.

I will try not to describe the series (you have already watched it), but describe my feelings.

The whole world watched this series, the whole world is now expressing their opinions. But, as it seems to me, this series is closest to the people of my country. And Ukraine, of course.

As you know, most of the Gomel region suffered from an accident at a nuclear power plant. The third part of the Vetka district was resettled. People will never return home. I work in a village where people can’t pick mushrooms and berries. There is not a single healthy child in my class.

I brought the first and second episodes to school and showed them to the children. I don't know if I violated the copyrights, but my students should have seen this series. These are children, they are 13 years old. They were born on land that was contaminated with radionuclides in 1986. These children check their radiation levels every year. These children go to a sanatorium for recuperation with state money every year. And every year these children come back to their village. They inhale radiation dust, they eat apples and cherries. And I eat too. We live with radiation. We live with it every day. We have been living like this for more than 30 years.

And every year, the village buries people. Cancer. It kills everyone. My colleague's father died of cancer. And father of another my colleague died of cancer. My other colleague has cancer. I guess that is waiting for me. I try not to think about it. But I tell children about low doses of radiation and their consequences. I'm taking the kids to the sanatorium. I am one of them. One of the thousands of people who suffered from the Chernobyl accident.

Therefore, I watched this series with special feelings. I was afraid that he would disappoint me. I was afraid that the authors would chase entertainment or a love story, or they would be interested in science fiction. This did not happen, thank God.

I found all the episodes from the book by Svetlana Alexievich. I am proud that in America they have shot a series based on the book of my compatriot. Around the world people talked about Belarus. I believe that the character of Uliana Homyuk is based not only of all scientists. Partly, as it seems to me, this is the character of Svetlana Alexievich. She traveled and interviewed witnesses to the disaster. She wrote the book "Chernobyl Prayer". She sought the truth and was not afraid to speak it.

As a resident of the “zone,” I was more interested in the moments when the authors showed the consequences of the accident and the heroism of the liquidators. The emphasis in the series is on Legasov and Shcherbina, this is correct. I appreciated the play of actors. I watched the episodes and recalled: this plate of Legasov is in my cupboard, the thermos belonged to my grandmother, my mother wore a dress like Lyudmila. And I felt the atmosphere of fear. Fear of the authorities that the West learns about the catastrophe. The fear of the authorities that the USSR is not the best country in the world. I fully felt it.

But much remained behind the scenes and was not shown. For example, how people were expelled on demonstrations on May 1, when it was dangerous. How clouds with radiation were shot down (radiation could reach Moscow) and radioactive rain poured on the land of Belarus. How people collected radiation crop. It did not destroy. Vodka was made from the collected grain. The meat of the cows was sent to the production of sausages. The trees in the radiation forests were chopped for firewood, because “everything was OK in Belarus”. Because each district had standards for the procurement of firewood, meat, wheat. And the radiation did not cancel these plans. Firewood was transported to different areas, sausages were sold throughout the country, and people ate it. This is scary. This is not shown in the series.

I agree with the opinion that Chernobyl caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. People are tired of lies and secrecy. People wanted to know the truth, and received only rumors.

It is also true that no one then thought how terrible the radiation is for people. No one drank iodine. People went to the demonstration not only because their Communist Party forced. They went on holidays, because together they were not so scared. People listened to the radio, and the authorities said that everything was OK.

My thoughts are muddled. I know it.

And I would like to finish with the lines of the Belarusian poet Vladimir Korotkevich. He wrote it 20 years before the tragedy (in 1960). He warned that people have no power over atomic energy. Forgive my literal translation, please. I want to keep the content of the poem.

Over the forest and wild garden, 
The rain whispered.
And suddenly the carnations flashed
In the washed grass.
From a low warm home
The girl ran out into the rain.
She heard gentle drops.
Drops kissed her
Ardently and affectionately.
Lips girls caught
The wonderful silver of the sky.
The smell of lilac floated in the garden.
Eternal life...
The girl sang, she was happy...
Strontium was in the rain.

Thanks, HBO!