19 October 2019, Saturday, 14:04
We are in the same boat

I Didn’t Get The Joke

I Didn’t Get The Joke
Iryna Khalip

Even the Soviet power failed to come up with this.

May 9 followed its routine scenario - watch the firework, toast to the victory, swear at the victory mess, watch the movies about soldiers of World War II. And now it's time to recruit new soldiers: fortunately, there's no war, but the service is still mandatory. There are only three weeks left until the end of the spring draft, and soldiers are missing. It's clear that empty bunks in barracks must be used. But none of us can even guess what means they use to do it.

My friend's son Aliaksei became a disabled after the accident - three years ago he, a graduate of BSU, was hit by a car on the pedestrian crossing on the green light. His legs were broken. In three years he had eight operations, eleven courses of antibiotics, any moves in the "wheelchair-crutches-walking cane" mode and back. There is no end in sight. Doctors cannot say how many operations lie ahead. One leg has a metal pin, the other has a pseudarthrosis. Ilizarov's apparatus is almost a family member for them. Of course, he has the second non-working disability group.

Well, Aliaksei received draft notice. As we used to say when we were kids "I don't get the joke". He called the military registration and enlistment office and wondered if they needed documents from the medical commission, confirming his disability? They said that every year the medical commission sent copies of all medical documents regarding young people of draft age. We know about your disability. But only our medical commission is able to provide a valid assessment of whether you, son, are ready for the army. Your medical commission is not trustworthy. You should come.

And he came. At that time, he was able to move, albeit not for long, with great pain. At the medical commission the conscripts were looking not only at Aliaksei with his Ilizarov's apparatus, but they were looking for hidden cameras. They thought that only a show was a good excuse for young man to appear at the military registration and enlistment office. And he was examined by all narrow specialists, including a trauma surgeon. He looked at the photos and said with admiration: "Wow, what fractures!" It's fun for all doctors to evaluate the work of fellow surgeons, ask about details, and think, "I would have done this better". In the last room, there was the chairman of the medical commission, who made the final decision. The chairwoman studied thoroughly Aliaksei's personal file and then asked strictly:

- The cause of death of your older 24 year-old brother.

- He was struck and killed by a driver.

- And you were struck by a car.

- Yes, I was.

- Your mother should go an old lady and unravel a curse.

That was the statement of the chairwoman of the medical commission: to go to an old lady and unravel a curse. One can imagine other options, not for the disabled: able-bodied, but obliged to have a bag of shredded mouse excrement to strengthen the combat potential; able-bodied, but only after the session of exorcism (certificate of the session to present at the assembly station); able-bodied, but on Friday, the thirteenth, is subject to transfer to the reserve out of harm's way. This chairwoman does not believe the documents of the medical commission, where her colleagues work, and can only determine fitness for service. Although, judging by her statement, she did not study well and does not understand what is written in those papers.

Oh, I almost forgot: we support this lady and thousands of her twin sisters. For example, those who say a disabled person confined to wheelchair after another surgery, to come to the clinic to change bandages and do not think how a person can do it. Or those who designed elevators, which have no room for a wheelchair, and ramps at an angle of 45 degrees, which are not suitable even for stuntmen. Aliaksei, by the way, came up with the know-how: he tied a snow saucer to his pants. Hold on to the ramps with his hands, he pulled his own unruly body out of the wheelchair, and while his mother moved it down a steep ramp, he just crawled down in a sitting position. The snow saucer was needed to keep his pants clean. "First stair, second stair makes up a ladder. Disabled people, like no one else, know how to count these stairs with different parts of the body.

Recently, just before Victory Day, my mother remembered the disabled veterans on the streets of Minsk after the war. She told me how they suddenly disappeared one day. Now we know that they were simply taken to Solovki to die, so that the picture of the apple-cheeked winner country looked brilliant. And now I understand why Belarusian disabled people are not taken somewhere just like then: it's unwise, they will die themselves. Those disabled veterans lived in barracks. If they had lived in multi-storey buildings with modern Minsk ramps and elevators, there wouldn't have been any need to assemble them and take them to Solovki: in a couple of years the problem would have disappeared on its own. It was also possible to recruit them or declare them parasites - then the Soviet authorities would have succeeded within a few months.

I'm not fantasizing about parasites, by the way. The other day, after another surgery, Aliaksei received a letter from the parasite commission demanding to get a job, otherwise he would pay for water and heating in full. Even the Soviet power failed to come up with this. Comrade Stalin, you are an idiot.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org