The progeny of a brooding parent in meltdown; what hope remains for these children?
|A silhouette of disturbing shapes coalesced into sharper focus.
Our children stood trembling, haphazardly spaced without social constraint, or any consideration of comfort. Some possessed wheelchairs while others had been carried here by their less disabled peers. They surrounded an open grave, the small crowd of mourners backlit with a glowing aura reminiscent of some cultist ritual.
There were no tears.
There was no talking, not even whispers. The ones able to communicate had nothing to say. The oldest would be old if they reached double digit age.
Their faces were granted something in common; hollow eyes that had never known hope beyond the orphanage. They ignored the glaring cloudless day. Their world was constantly foggy and cold beyond measure.
Some draped odd length, distorted arms around another's rounded shoulders, their collective grief as internal and unreachable as the deadly, radioactive lava of Reactor number four.
This indifferent, murderous material had been hastily encased in it's concrete sarcophagus in 1986, what was left of the exploded Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. A deniable legacy that will spread invisible ripples of deadly influence, across the Earth for thousands upon thousands of years. It would take thirty years to build a safer confinement costing a global sized fortune, and only to last a tiny span of a hundred years.
At the edge of the burial ground, a rusty pipe held aloft a faded sheet metal sign; it's trefoil symbol once a vivid warning, shrieking to all who beheld the Cyrillic letters Небезпечно для життя! Забруднення! Заборонене доступ!
Danger to life!
Radioactive! Forbidden Access!
With sober eyes staring into the darkness of their painful future, they laid one of their own to rest. The State required that contaminated bodies be buried here together; ionised radiation their compelling ticket of admission.
Their deceased fellow orphan, whose strangely angled limbs forced the mortuary attendant to address this inconvenience when measuring the lead-lined coffin, was another victim of defective aortic valves.
His miserable life and death was already another statistic of the unknown to science, cardiac degradation, ironically dubbed "Chernobyl Heart".
Newborn victims arrived, (were they yours?) at the already overcrowded orphanage, every other day, and if they weren't suffering a faulty heart, there was a variety of other debilitating and grotesque failures of genetics on offer.
Their status would be assessed by enthusiastic, albeit exhausted, medical staff, who loved each and every one of these little ones, catching them in hands outstretched like baseball gloves, as they fell through the cracks of human existence...and human rights.
A simple operation would suffice for his life to continue as those more fortunate; an operation freely available, voluntary medical crews, equipment; competent heart surgeons ready and waiting.
But all that provision is beyond the border, on the other side; forbidden by the ponderous, muddy, bureaucratic, divisive laws of the land.
This quality of life changing benevolence is impossible to access here.
Charity organisations, local and international advocacy groups, and individuals, struggle to change the status quo, but in this world of stolid immovable law, nothing can be done about political apathy and those hiding from legal responsibility.
But, that's ok! Let us all hold hands now, as we pray for our dear departed innocent, whose every movement and grunt provided a parody of amusement for all to ogle.
We can all relax in the comfort that this story has to be an exaggerated work of fiction, edited on a computer screen in a brightly lit warm room, somewhere far removed from this scene, somewhere safe and healthy.
No, there is no way this could be real. We can all clear our constricted throats in relief and move on, with just one click...
But what will we dream of tonight? Will we jerk awake, sweating in the early hours, trying to block our ears, and face-palm away our tears, as we join the children weeping in the cloying darkness?
They whisper behind our claustrophobic wardrobe doors, where the scuffling sound can be dismissed as our clothing falling from the hangers.
Google us...please Google us...we promise to be good children...
Kseniya Simonova's Sandart portrayal of the Chernobyl tragedy
Support group for the Chernobyl children
Johnny Cash. There's a man going 'round taking names