I made a post once about what I learned in the Ivory Tower. But the Ivory Tower left me unprepared for the history unfolding. And for me taking a small, but straining part in it.
I went to occasional protests before, being a concerned soul, even in the Ukraine cause, which has been hopeless at some point. The protests, I mean. But that was about it. I was not really sure how to get involved more.
And then on my 30th birthday I went to join a protest event with ambitious goal to emulate Kyïv Maidan,tents and all (to satisfy police we called the tents 3D banners and then reduced them completely, while expanding our “petition stand”. Apparently, building tents is not part freedom of speech……… and it is sorta hassle, especially if you are, in fact, dweller of Prague coffeeshops). It never quite achieved it, but that’s mostly cause people here are not pissed off enough. But we done our mark. We might even have our spot in exhibition of national museum, which is talks :). So back then I spend long hours in the center of Prague, discussing with people, making photo-documentation and enjoying the atmosphere. Since then I spend almost every weekend “standing on the square” and one night in Montmartre café I vowed to so do it until Crimea is returned to Ukraine. To answer your question, dear reader… yes, we were bit drunk. But even more honest for it. So at times I pray Crimea is returned for selfish reasons (not only it saved my life back in 2012, but image of me in my 70s, with yellow and blue clip-ins in my hair, yellow and blue eyeshadow, taking off my jacket in the winter to pose with “It’s colder on the Eastern front” sign in some activist shirt… it sounds bit scary). And it is sometimes intense on the square. We get teary thank yous. Mostly from Ukrainians, but also from Westies, especially Americans (along with apologies their country is not doing more for Ukraine). We get death threats. We get Russians annoyed at us. “I pay 10 000 euro for hotel and I go out and see Maidan?”. One tourist destroyed our paper mache mask of Putin… out of love of her leader. Moscow Times wrote about the incident. A maidanista from Lugansk repaired the mask, swearing horribly all the way through the process. But the appreciation is worth it. Once a group of Donestk “cyborgs” was on trip to Prague, being treated in Poland for their injuries and came across our stand. They couldn’t be more surprised…. and happy. They came back few later with others. We had a night off in one of Prague American style pubs and shared stories. Some of them are yet to go back on the eastern front. I pray for them… it is rough out there. And they are good souls. And many of them have families.
And then there’s the helping out in any way you can. Aside for humanitarian aid collection, which got out of hand and we hand trouble finding place to store it and a we collected “too much” so more lorries were needed…. a great problem to have… Winter was dedicated to making white masking nets. Using old bed sheets and weaving them into a fishing net. Who woulda thought that my hippiesh knowledge of knowing how to make macramee would be useful in matters of war? So we got together, Ukrainians and Czechs, weaved something that looked like something spider on acid would produce (“the system is…. that there is no system” as I like to explain it) and shared our dark, dark humor. It’s been Maidan this, Maidan that, hahaha, we are such Banderites! and jokes about burning tires and eating Russian babies. It was propaganda from other side that started it, but why not laugh it off? It annoys the enemy for sure. And if i wear my “Prague Maidan” badge and ribbons, I can be sure no damn Russian brats sit to me in subway. Once one Russian child ran to her mommy when she seen me in my get up. I felt sorry for her at the moment, but later we had a good laugh at the incident.
But as much as we are loved and appreciated by some, ignored by the most (who still believe Ukraine is far far away, even though Kyiv is probably closer than some of their vacation destinations), we got very intense hate from some. First time somebody called me a fascist, it made me feel anxious. Now I am anxious when day passes on the “Maidan” and I don’t get called fascist. Does it mean we are losing our relevancy? Along, with being likely tapped in my online communication and on my phone……… it’s more about “forgetting to be paranoid” than suffering paranoia. Because just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not after you, right?
One feels mostly good on the square. Or weaving or ripping sheets frantically (a good stress reliever. Is Putin Huilo? Of course. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip!) But then one wakes up in the middle of the night, there is plane landing on the military airport close to my place and one is dwelling in existentialism. Can we make it? And THEY? Can we even live normally after this all settles down? What if our efforts are pointless? What if our side loses? Activism takes toll. I am sure it got me some scars on my soul. I grown years later. But there’s been good things too. I am no longer afraid to talk to people. I am much stronger for all of it. I learned a lot about world and people. I know I will look back at these times as good times, even in midst of bad times. Among our flags, yellow and blue clothing and flower wreathes we created our own world, where we consider ourselves the “normal people”… even when we are a minority… sadly.
Maybe it was all worth it, even if we don’t overthrow our president as our petition intends to or if we don’t save Ukraine. Maybe providing moral support to enough people counts too. Maybe we have sown few seeds. I hope we did. I know we done all we could.