A message from Lyubov ……., who was led out of the Dubrovka theatre siege by Iosif Davydovich

24.11.2014

A message from Lyubov ……., who was led out of the Dubrovka theatre siege by Iosif Davydovich

At my home, any time Iosif Davydovich appears on TV, everyone gathers round as if it’s a roll-call. “Our godfather’s on TV!” they exclaim. Katya and Yeska are transfixed by what’s happening on screen. Just one look at my youngest kids and the excitement and attentiveness in their eyes, and I can tell that they’re not just watching television. They’re learning, they’re sympathising, they’re almost in contact. At moments like these, it’s as if Iosif Davydovich has stepped out of the TV and into our home, and the kids have picked up so much news that they just have to share it as a matter of urgency. It’s pure happiness. Happiness that I have my young lads, that my eldest daughters have grown up into beautiful young women, and that we’re all alive. And that, for all my children, from the oldest to the youngest, Iosif Davydovich is their godfather, pure and simple…

And it’s only me who still has these dreams at night, dreams that take me back to the heavy, suffocating smell of the overcrowded theatre, to time running out, drop by agonising drop, to the morning when I was roused out of my semi-conscious dozing by shouts of “Allahu Akbar!”, and when submachine guns were being fired into the ceiling. The dreams take me back to my manic fear of being torn away from my children, and to the feeling of absolute calm when I saw Kobzon holding the hand of my youngest girl, just five years of age. At that moment, the theatre’s foyer seemed higher than any Gothic cathedral, and my kids still seemed to be miles away, but right there was their Defender, and it was clear that nothing could go wrong.

Late every October for the past 12 years, we’ve been standing on the cold steps outside the House of Culture at Dubrovka. Gazing right at us from the poster are the faces of the people who weren’t able to get out. White balloons float up towards the sky, candles burn, and, shepherded by their teachers, schoolkids huddle together. And Iosif Davydovich still wears the same dark coat he threw around the shoulders of my eldest daughter, then 12, as he led her away from the stuffiness, the mugginess and the fear, towards the cold air, towards the light and towards life…


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