Confessions of a 50 year old homeless, who has two Red Star orders.
He’s sitting in front of me. Proportional head and shoulders, nice hairdo, good clean clothes… And they told about his “harsh destiny”, “just quit drinking”. There’s no trace of alcohol here. Even the face was beautiful, but for the crooked lower jaw… “This happened in Nazran, in captivation…”, he seems to be reading my thoughts, wow… His eyes are like a baby’s: blue, trusting… And in a minute there’s a feeling that we’ve known each other, only haven’t met for a long time for some reason.
“…Stanislav Troshin is my name. Was born exactly fifty years ago in Georgievsk. There, they say, I have heaps of relatives, brother, sister… Only that we haven’t ever seen each other, because I’m from orphanage. When I was one and a half years old, dad and mum sent me there. I don’t know the reasons, but when I matured, people found out that my mother was a party functionary, and the dad – a test pilot”
“Wait, Stanislav, this was told to many kids to give at least some kind of hope for life…”
“No, it is likely to be true. People who was looking for my parents were, as said, “from organs”. They simply had to find it out about me. You’ll see why… Later.
Then I studied and lived there. Was difficult, ever hungry… Times were not far after the war. We, teen guys, were in a constant search for food. I remember an old man, who delivered bread in a cart: sees us gathering crops from his vehicle, immediately whipped us. This was when Khrushchev started feeding corn to us. But still I remember the orphanage thankfully: it is from there I went to study in Sevastopol Navy college. I graduated the college with all high distinctions, excellent, can be said. The first Red Star order deserved exactly there, for rescuing forty two people. Unfortunately, I can’t tell the details. My life has been shaded with a certain state secret.
We were thought not merely the navy combat sciences, but us, specially selected boys, were creating a special force. We had to fight and survive in conditions which a normal man would call hell, and certainly wouldn’t survive. And we had to fight in such conditions…”
Yes, I heard something like that from parents, being an “officer’s child”: from orphan teens supersoldiers were made, something like “sea cats”, “desert tigers”, call whatever… It seems like such guys took the Amin’s Palace in Afghanistan. Well, this is off-topic… Stanislav sees that I don’t really believe and speaks with temper: “I will come to you with orders and medals, you’ll see!” Well I believe, I do… It’s just the first time I see such a soldier.
“I’d finished the college, and immediately the Motherland sent us to various missions. I’ve been to all the continents: in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. Photography was prohibited then (and still is not recommended), only for the documents, but we were young, fools, and took heaps pics secretly. I have those photos in the album. Sometimes look at them and can’t believe it all happened myself, so no surprise you can not… I married when I was in college. A son was born, Igor. The dad is on business in one country, in another, and they managing it all with the mum. I left army in 1984: in one Latin country fought for drugs, I mean, to destroy, and Americans tried not to let us. Well, poisoned us with gas. Woke up in hospital, in Tashkent. I was lucky to survive, but my boys were not. Spent long time in hospitals, and then agreed with the wife, and we went here, to Sevastopol. Lived in the mother’s mother place, with her, of course. It wasn’t too bad, but not for too long: the son went to army. He died there, serving some “international duty”, which no one understood and no one needed. And soon my spouse died, could not stand the grief.
Quitted drinking at once, in a few hours. Was going down from the attic of that spiked house, and suddenly heard the wife’s and son’s voice: “Stop drinking, or we won’t love you HERE!” I stood for a while, turning my head around… Bought a bottle, the last one. Made myself up as good as I could, and wrote a rapport asking to take be back to the forces. I was 37. They did accept me, so I became a contracted soldier, a “contrabass”. In Tadzhikistan we were on the border, protecting the south lines. No one waited me anywhere, and I did not need myself too, just fought and that’s it. There were some women, I remember them with respect, but that’s about it… I forgot love, did not think about family. Not for me, full stop.
In 1995 our squad was sent to Grozny. Then Gudermes, Kizliar…
We were in investigation mission. A landmine blew under my friend’s feet. I remember myself flying head forward… Woke up captivated under Nazran. Another guy, Alex, the freshman, eighteen and a half years with me. What can we do? Ten Chechens, all brothers, our hosts so to say. They beat us up to begin with. After this I sewed up the wounded head, with a normal needle, usual strings. You see how well done? Once they beat out my teeth with a peace of the lower jaw… Don’t know how I survived… God, or my family in Heaven, saw me and helped…
Worked there as horses. The Chechens made us weed the corn, 25 hectares. Dressed down to underwear so that we could not run away, gave instruments, and fast forward to the plantation. Our camouflage was taken from the beginning, and changed to some ripped off civic clothes. I had a white shirt with short sleeves. Only in the evening, after a security check they let us dress up. To humiliate us even more, the check was done by a “sister”. Feed us… nearly nothing: a single piece of bread, sprat and water.
All these two months there I tried no to think about anything distant. Waited for a moment to try to escape. It was impossible not to think at night: all quiet, only the guardian dogs barking, and various memories… Whispered with Alex, he was afraid – just a child he was… I calmed him, but understood we could have expected anything from the bastards. In two months the moment came: the Chechens offered to accept their faith. I did not decline, only asked to give some time. They gave one day. I understood that if I accept Islam, I would have to prove loyalty by killing a Russian. And they will film it all. The closest Russian was Alex…
By the time our torturers relaxed a bit and did not track our every step. We were guarded by the “sister” only, and she loved sleeping. “Alex, let’s torn our roof apart”. I say this and praying lord the rooftop was not made of wood… Tried, great, it was clay and dry grass. We went on, praying the dogs did not hear us. Alex asked all the time: “Who are you?”. “Builder”, I replied. When the hole was large enough, we leaked through to the rooftop. It was still very dark, about midnight. Ran six kilometers, until heard the engine sound. Lied down, waited… Rain made it all quite. I took off my shirt so that it was not whiten in the night. We hid. Here they go, sweethearts. Catch us – we’re dead. My heart was pumping so loud, and I thought I heard my friend’s heart too…
They approached… Went by: guns look out of the car’s windows… Then we went another 55 kilometers to the railway. Saw the train “Makhachkala – Moscow”… How we ran after it!!! We had to jump on the last car, and it was all empty. We hid there between the bags. It was dangerous, but we had luck all the way: no one looked through the baggage. But our followers didn’t stop too: I heard them walking through the car, they run away before the train sped up. I found some hole and breathed through it. The baggage space was under the seat, and soon passengers came and blocked me there. Alex was in another space, and all the way I tried to estimate where we are and is he alive still?
Came to Mozdok, I heard the station’s noise. Well, I thought, now only to get to Georgievsk, and home.
We got there. I knock on my baggage space lid… People went on alarm above, the old man who sat on me jumped up like from heat. I get out of the box, and take an old Chechen granny from the Alex’ space… “Sheitan, Sheitan!”, she screams. “What sheitan?” Can you imagine this? An unknown dirty person suddenly between the passengers… We went out straight away. Dear fields beyond the window… We got out of the hell, Alex! Got out and alive!
The train steward saw and understood it all straight away. Said he had the same runaways before. Asked to deliver to Mineralnye Vody with no problems. “And then go yourself, guys”. When we arrived there, on the first look out of the train saw our team, I mean, our Chechen team! Stand there, looking around. The steward opened the other side’s door, gave ten rubles each, and said we had to get to the airport. And luck came to us again, believe it or not: we met a truck driver who used to deliver food to us in army. On the way with him we told the story. He got us to Stavropol. Saw the same Chechen follower at the market here. I went to militia, without fear, told everything to an officer I knew. They caught our followers, found weapon in their cars.
We parted ways with Alex, he went to some checks, then must have gone home.
When I came to the military office, they were so surprised! “We were ready to put your names to the Book of Memory!”
Then I met my former “hosts” yet another time, by the church where I used to beg. Now I came there to pray with a friend. “You were the first Russian pigs who escaped from us! The bullet is following you”, they said. I replied: “It is me who will come after you, be ready!”. Apparently, they were released on amnesty.
When I was about to resign from the army, a fellow general joked: “Will shoot you myself if you leave!”. But… it was the time. I have a house now, in a village not too far from the city. It’s so beautiful there, like a resort with lakes! I planted the trees, now have to live. Sometimes going to sleep I think maybe my life was just a dream? The dead partners come in dreams, surround me and we talk… I’m single. It’s difficult. Hoped to meet relatives, but now not sure whether they need me at all?”
Only now I understand that Stanislav went to the marriage service agency but lost his way. “I want to find a woman who would see that my soul is all tortured. I don’t drink, know how to do anything. And the housekeeping too…”
With a baby’s eyes he looks at me with a hope. A hope that life will turn to him and he sees her without weapon, shooting, deaths.
Promised to come back again, and went out. Straight back, a Russian hero.
And I sit here thinking: how to label the text about him? Maybe a “marriage classified”?
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea