In this month of the anniversary of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
MONOLOGUE ABOUT A SONG WITHOUT WORDS
“I’ll get down on my knees to beg you—please, find our Anna Sushko. She lived in our village. In Kozhushki. Her name is Anna Sushko. I’ll tell you how she looked, and you’ll type it up. She has a hump, and she was mute from birth. She lived by herself. She was sixty. During the time of the transfer they put her in an ambulance and drove her off somewhere. She never learned how to read, so we never got any letters from her. The lonely and the sick were put in special places. They hid them. But no one knows where. Write this down . . .
The whole village took care of her, like she was a little girl. Someone would chop wood for her, someone else would bring milk. Someone would sit in the house with her for an evening, heat the stove. Two years we all lived in other places, then we came back to our houses. Tell her that her house is still there.
The roof is still there, the windows. Everything that’s broken or been stolen, we can fix. If you just tell us her address, where she’s living and suffering, we’ll go there and bring her back. So that she won’t die of sorrow. I beg you. An innocent spirit is suffering among strangers.
There’s one other thing about her, I forgot. When some thing hurts, she sings this song. There aren’t any words, it’s just her voice. She can’t talk. When something hurts, she just sings: A-a-a. It makes you feel sad.”
–Svetlana Alexievich. Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, “for her polyphonic Writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”