The Sad Truth about being on the side of the Aggressor
(The Russia-Ukraine conflict)
23 February or more commonly known as Defender of the Fatherland Day, (quite the mouthful there), began as any other 23 February before it. Exempted from learning, I woke up at my leisure and prepared for a productive day in my design. But as I was still a medical student, I had a mountain of assignments and tests to work on.
My other concern was what to gift my boyfriend as people traditionally give presents to male relatives or companions on this day as they are their ‘main defenders’.
Seated for the majority of the day behind my screen, switching between productive tasks and youtube, my day passed without much significance. Similarly, online, I witnessed the barricade of holiday wishes and videos of gifts and appreciation given as everyone waited for the fireworks that would indicate a holiday done well.
Miles away, just across the border, Russia launched its infamous attack on Ukraine.
It’s not like they were no signs leading up to this but given how bad this decade had been so far, we were all kind of in denial. Foolishly optimistic, as it were. But the unthinkable happened: millions fleeing, buildings on fire, the horrors just a couple of clicks away.
However, the most unsettling thing, to me at least, is how it’s all business as usual in Russia.
Granted, I’m in Siberia, one of the farthest points from the conflict. Geographically, we are exempt from what ails the European side. Protests are springing up in all cities. That and the dropping value of the ruble while the costs of necessities rise, are some of the only indicators that something is amiss.
Online, wars are raging for and against and I can’t engage seeing I’m only a foreign student and neither country is mine. And to be fair, it isn’t a good time for anyone to be speaking up (even if it is the time that people really should). Those that are speaking out, are being dragged for not doing so sooner (or jailed), and those that aren’t, for watching idly as the world burns.
At this moment, my heart goes out to all the victims.
And then there are those forgotten few. Foreign students just like me, are being refused the chance of safety based on the color of their skin. How can people who are ‘unjustly’ suffering go around and inflict an even worse pain? I guess one thing we can always count on is the human capacity to hurt one another.
The conflict could easily worsen and I and other students here could end up in the same situation. Many miles away from home with no one coming to save us, caught in a war that isn’t exactly ours but suffering just as much.
These are unpredictable times we are living in and I hope upon hope that the world will prove me wrong.