THE SMELL OF HATRED
I remember the smell of hatred. Sharp and stifling, it made my life clear and simple. Black was black, white was white, and the evil had a name. It was concrete. This helped me to live - without hope, without faith in a different future.
I never liked the prison. Gray, monotonous, its world consisting of straight lines, straight actions, and straight thoughts frightened and worried me. Months later, I learnt how to hide my daily fright and compensate it with actions and words. I learnt the art of talking and acting with hatred, and that's how I could survive.
The Evil was primitive and sharp-tongued. Perhaps that is why it was cruel. In the evenings, during free time, I entered the world, alien to the leaders of my country - the world of Faulkner, Melville, Hesse and Thomas Mann. At night my friends from my Kyiv past, lost forever, came over to me, then I could again hear Venyaevskiy and Ravel, drink Kvanchkara wine, and love a woman …
Hatred returned in the morning. I hated sharply and deeply. Then I became really dangerous. I became the enemy. Cold-blooded, cunning and effective enemy. Because I was deprived of my future.
I was surrounded by ghosts. Youth from the Ukrainian Rebel Army, getting old in Soviet prisons, former Ukrainian literature stalwarts Svitlychny and Kalynets, contemporary Kyiv journalist Valera Marchenko, Armenians, Lithuanians, - all of us were ghosts. We had our pasts but no future. There in the bright Soviet future, there was no place for us. Perhaps only in the prison. Again - in the prison.
Who was I before? A revolutionary? Terrorist? Foreign spy? What wrong had I done to be thrown into the prison? What did I want?
I wanted the Truth. I wanted Sincerity. It was difficult for me to live among normal Soviet people, who were habituated to see a new robe on the totally naked king. Without thinking of the consequences, I said: "The king is naked". It was terrible for me. I could not but do this. The last impression I had was that moment in my past, when I looked at the high tree from the window of the room where my arrest order was announced. I could then only whisper to the tree: "Hey, look. You are the last tree that I see in my life. Before me will be - stones, grayness and dampness, without any greenery and smell of flowers. I am passing away, remaining young and alive." It was springtime - everything around was bright, shining, warm and happy.
My hatred was cold. I had learnt not to react to provocative calls, and preferred choosing my own chance to hit back. Hatred towards the CPSU and the KGB filled me up, often calling for immediate responses and decisions. But I learnt to wait. God only knows, how hard it was, terribly hard… Hating, I understood: response or victory, there is no third way. I chose victory: one more publication in the underground "samizdat", another publication of the "Archipelago Gulag", another hunger strike. Yes, these were my victories. There, in the prison, I could tell the KGB man, who went red in shame: "Yes, Mr. Boss, I am an anti-Soviet of the widest profile." There in the prison I could tell the horror stricken pale Westerner on the realities of Soviet psychiatry and its abuses… I could do a lot and did a lot. And my hatred helped me in this.
I did not like the prison. But it was my home, the only one and the known one. My life went on there. My friends were there. And there, I also understood, was my future. After all, I could never learn to see the new robe on the totally naked king.
The king is dead. He died on his own; no one intervened into his death. He died - just like that. Held together by spears and fear, the huge country collapsed. Some went and rejoined the Europe, others - returned to the classical eastern autocracies. And I stopped being the dissident. My country - is closer to Europe. From afar, unadulterated by my involvement, I notice the phantomlike pains of Russia. From afar, unadulterated by my participation, I notice the change of religious doctrines: public polls have become our new national religion, replacing "the ever-living" postulates in the baggage of Marxism-Leninism.
And very close, next to myself, I see the homo soveticus, forever known to me for their behavior. This homo soveticus is alive. Inside each of us. And that is why you live so poor.
This homo soveticus, through the mouth of former Communist party bosses and Komsomol bosses teach me lessons of democracy. This homo soveticus condemns me for absence of hatred and thirst for vengeance. This Homo soveticus, becoming overnight rich through unfair means, tells me of the problems of my country and people, who live there. This Homo soveticus, physically destroyed the Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian intellectuality, today demand that I speak only Ukrainian.
As late Sergiy Averyntsev noted in 1998, one of the most inimitable characteristics of the totalitarian ideology was its desire to condemn everyone, criticize the whole history of human kind and the world. Today in my country we have Freedom, freedom to see, hear, travel and legally earn a lot of money, as well as the freedom, unfortunately, to hate.
The carriers of hatred always have one unique feature: they can easily forgive themselves of those vices (and crimes) which they notice in others in a magnified way. Let us remember our recent past, just nine years ago: who among the journalists loudly and energetically supported the electoral campaign of our current President? Yes, those are the people, who regularly criticize him today. And they never repent. In 1995 in an interview to one of the Kyiv papers I said: "…The task of the rulers lies in their tactics to lead their nations along the historically charted way. If there by no Moses, someone else would have led the Jews out of the Egyptian siege… may be with time, no immediately. We still do not have our Moses. Alas! Our current President is unable to "keep up to the mark". At least this is clear from the team he has or his personnel policy…".
The smell of hatred haunts me till today. The slave, who by miracle was set free, lives in impatience and intolerance. As Herman Hesse put it so wisely in his book "Siddhartha": "yes, it is like that - everything is repeated, everything, which had not been thoroughly suffered till the end and fully repented".
Dr. Semyon Gluzman