As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have friends in Volgograd, Russia. So as my mind went more to the issues of terrorism that are causing concerns in that city, I thought about how terrorism has rocked others in my world.
There were friends who lived in the areas where terrorists struck in downtown Oklahoma City when the Murrah building was bombed and a very dear friend lived within blocks of the World Trade Center when it was taken down. And reached out asking how things seemed… well, it was just the natural thing to do. So I got in touch with my friend Sergey via instant message.
Sergey has a way with words, even if English isn’t his first language. I asked what comes to mind that he may like others to know about how things are going in Volgograd. He replied:
Gloomy, grey, solemn faces of the people walking on the streets, standing at the cash machines in the stores, empty trams and buses, flowers on the fence in front of the central railroad station. Volgogradians have been shocked. And questioning why it is possible and why it has happened to their city. The most popular answer – the vahhabit underground has launched terrorist war on Russia. And Volgograd may be the preferable target – the symbol or Russian fortitude, the city where Nazis were finally stopped in the tremendous bloody battle in 1942-1943. The city where people has intrinsically something special in their spirit.
Now we have something in common with New Yorkers and the citizens of other attacked cities. We are the targets of the world terrorist war. And common sense tells us – we’d better be fighting together with those invisible aggressors.
Wow. It stopped me in my tracks. The images he’s drawn so clearly one of despair and yet, as we continued talking, it also seemed that life of course, continues to go on. HE explains: “Everything is as usual, just feeling some nerves. More blasts are possible as the authorities tell. Schools are on vacations – New Year and X-mas. Most people are shopping. The regional mourning has been declared.”
With a million people in Volgograd, it would be easy to think the distance would be great but Sergey actually lives just a few blocks from one of the explosions. Luckily, he said he didn’t hear anything.
Our conversation turned to the more normal checking in with friends. We talk about his family — the daughter I met a billion years ago as well as his wife and young son. We have had a couple of very short visits in the US at various times. But keep up via letters, photos and social media. His daughter Julia is now in grad school. That makes me feel old and yet his son is but a toddler.
He shares a few updates and I send him a few of the old photos. We do a short walk down memory lane, talking about some funny stories of things that happened while I was visiting. As we sign off, we wish each other “happy new years” and hope that people will be keeping things cool so that Volgograd isn’t in the news any more.