We wouldn’t want to leave after all that happened. How could we leave and leave Yulia here in the ground? No, we’ll stay here to the end of our days, no matter what.
Before this tragedy, I thought about leaving, because my wife and I had a hard time here, but now . . .
We have spent our lives in Russia. I miss the woods, the fields, the snow . . .
I thought of leaving. But I always asked the children, especially Mariana, whether she is having a hard time, whether she wants to go back. They were categorically against it, especially Mariana. She said she liked everything here and didn’t want to go anywhere else. All right, I said; so you’ll grow up, get an education, become adults — then you’ll decide where you want to live. Mom and I will bring you up, give you education, and go back to die at home.
And now I’ll tell — and to Sheikh Nasrallah, too, who said, “Russians Go Home!” Well, they got an opposite result. Now you won’t be able to drag me out of here. I’ll live here and defend my land if I have to. And if it so happens that Israel loses this war, the last piece of land they’ll get will be my daughter’s grave in the Kibbutz Givat Brenner.
At first Masha and I went through some hard times. We were just the two of us, she had a nervous breakdown, and I, well . . . We were thinking about leaving. But then — we helped each other a lot, and then she got involved with this life, and she became interested in things. Then I met Sasha, and I thank God for it. We had been for only two years by then, and somehow abandoned the thought of leaving. And now even more so, because Masha is buried here, and I can’t leave her.
I think if you’re a strong person, if you learn the language, you’ll achieve everything here, too. It all depends on you.
We brought here the most precious thing we had — our children. And now they’ve been taken away from us. I’m very much afraid for my son, he’s my last child. But we won’t leave Irina. We can’t leave her here alone in the ground.
I never thought of running away; not because this country is dear to me, but because I’m used to it. I have been through a lot here. And I have Israeli friends. I feel fine here.
My son used to live in America, in New York, with his father. We thought he would stay. But he missed his friends here. He couldn’t change friends. Now after the bombing we asked him whether he wanted to go back to live with his father. Isn’t it safer over there? “No way, Mom,” he said. “I’ll be even worse off there, because every day I’ll be worrying about you.”
There’s no place to run. On the one hand, we hurt for our child; on the other, she’s a hero here.
My mother wants to leave. But I don’t think I can leave and start all over again. Nor do I want to. We came from Tomsk when I was five, and I’ve been here for ten years. All my friends are here, and I don’t want to leave.
It may seem strange, but I don’t want to run away any more. When I came back from Ukraine, after I buried my child, everybody was trying to talk me out of it. And I said I had already lost my child and I got nothing left to lose. So I’ll go back to his grave in Ukraine anyway. And then whatever happens, happens.
No point in running away for me. For Irina, I might think about it. But now I’m not leaving. My child is here. I might tell my sister to pick up Andrei, her son, and go away. I’m not afraid for myself. I was afraid while Irina was alive, because I knew she needed me.
When we came here, after two or three months she began getting nostalgic. She kept whining for three months: Mom, let’s talk Dad into going back. I said, Where shall we go? We sold the apartment, and there were no jobs. And a week before the bombing we were going some place together, and she said, Mom, I’m so happy we’re here. I can’t imagine myself any other place. I’ll never leave here.
Of course I’m scared something might happen to my parents or my brother — I’m afraid to let him go to the Army. But I have no regrets about coming here. Long before the bombing I spoke to a friend about this and said, “Whatever happens, I came to my country, and I’m staying here.”
I came here, because over there, there was no peace. I didn’t need anything over there. Totally. No material problems. But there were kidnappings, there was a war with Abkhazia; no electricity, no gas. I was afraid for my children. I left everything and came here with one suitcase.
The life of my children and my plans for the future are linked to Israel. My children are great patriots. Roman loved Israel. They would never leave. They love this land. And look what this love did to them.