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Passe-Temps. Story of One Life. II

Yana Malysheva-Jones


We are driving through the country with a local man called Daur with whom I arranged our little trips here and there in Abkhazia instead of organised group travel. He said this way we won’t have to follow the schedule of the group but will have our own one. Little does he know that for me it will mean following his schedule and the slight changes of his mood instead — trying to figure out if he is happy or not really with us (even though it’s me paying money for this trip), walking for two hours around an old train station that eventually leads us to a little church built (in fact just organised) straight in a cave. Apparently it is a place of sanctuary of one of Christ’s apostles, Simon the Zealot. I google it and find out that the right way to call it is The Grotto of the Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot. Nice. It is almost too pretentious for the humble character of the place.

The nature on the path towards the grotto is absolutely fabulous. And as cliche as this word sounds it is fabulous and I can’t think of any other word to describe it. When we enter the grotto with Max after going up some pretty steep stairs made of ‘blocks’ as Max calls them, which are just pieces of local gray mountains, I am waiting for this sensation to come up straight from my gut as it always does when I travel and lose my breath at seeing something new. But this time it doesn’t do the trick and I get upset thinking straight into my depression as the main cause for the lack of feeling. However, some time later I realise that it also might have something to do with the fact that I am by myself with my soon-to-be three-year-old son and the nature of travelling and discovering places has changed. I do not have only myself now to pay attention to. I have my toddler son as my companion with whom I have to chat almost non-stop and, what’s also important, have an eye on, take care of him and make sure that his little feet don’t slip off the ‘blocks’ which he is of course absolutely crazy about. I breathe out realizing that not all changes and difficulties in my life are caused by my current mental health situation.

We are back in the car and Daur seems to be happy for us and for himself — while we were walking he was entertaining himself in the car doing crossword puzzles in a newspaper. Will I ever be able to enjoy something as simple as that?

I am looking out of the window while Max is finally calming down after six hours and falling asleep in my arms. The state of Abkhazia reminds me of my own state. It’s tatty and scratched, very melancholic even with the sun shining, and with every turn of my head I see — it is falling apart. Something is dying — I can see it in the buildings around and the sad-shaped eyes of local people, just like my own. But they almost welcome that death, or at least they go with it, holding tight and keep living their lives and doing what should be done. Because they have faith. And this faith lays in strongly following what comes naturally — sun in the morning, darkness at night. Tangerines and oranges in winter and all the rest in its full blossom in late summer. That is what’s real and is always there, even if everything man-made around stops making sense.

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