Saturday, November 27, 2004

The babushka revolutionaries 

I have often wondered if my fond feelings for Ukraine were somehow the result of spending so much time there (and alone, I might add -- health concerns kept my wife and daughter in the States) or if it was that the people I found there so special. The latter thesis is supported by this story from Scott Clark about his mother-in-law whose come in from the village to witness the revolution herself.
I went along with her and my brother-in-law down to the square on Thursday evening. (We had to take the subway because driving and parking downtown has become a bigger nightmare than it usually is.) From the place where the subway car stops to the surface we needed to ride a long escalator. So we rode it.

While riding up, there were some men riding down chanting �YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!� So my mother-in-law joined in in her higher pitched voice, �YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!� From that she went to �Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh� rhythmically. It means �We are many; you can�t defeat us!� I am not sure where that came from. I don�t think anyone was chanting it when we rode up but others knew it and started in too. �Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!� (Maybe it�s in the genes?) When we got to the top, there we people in small groups talking to each other and not chanting. My mother-in-law thought this was not right so she walked over to them and started them up, �Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!,� chopping her hand in rhythm.

...Yesterday, we got word that she had been with the protestors at the Presidential Administration Building. They were there again as part of the numbers of people who are making their presence felt around government buildings in the downtown area. We were told that she went up to the guards in front of the entrance, guards in full riot gear, masks and shield, in ranks twenty deep. She went up to one and said, �I am a babushka [translated roughly as �grandmother� but used for every older woman grandmother age] from the village. I came here to find out how you are. Are you fine? Are you hungry? Maybe your parents are somewhere worrying about you?

�Babushka has come from the village with some warm socks for you. Maybe your feet are cold and you need some socks?� She talked to this fellow in this way and won him over. He lowered his shield to expose his face and he was grinning at her while she spoke to him.

...she called her husband in the village. She had been planning on going back home and letting him come to take part but, when she called, she told him �There is nothing for you to do here. There are enough men here already. A woman�s touch is what is needed here to help take care of the people down at the square. So I will stay here. You don�t need to come.� (This is terribly un-PC but that is the way she is and the way of life is in the village.)

My mother-in-law is caught up in the revolution.
There's plenty more from Scott.

After you read that, check out the pictures at Neeka (scroll for all of 'em), and LSPM. These people are the face of the Orange Revolution. LSPM reports that he finds most people agree that Yushchenko's offer of the re-vote to be the best he could get. Good.