It was dark when his sister was dying of excruciating pain. Both of them were adventurers and always had the dream of going to the far West in search of a life they always craved for.
“When will we be there?” His sister asked him curiously with a glow of excitement in her eyes.
“We will be there when the time comes, and it will be pretty soon.” He answered with a glimpse of guilt and frustration in his voice.
Deep inside he knew, knew they would be stuck in this village for the rest of their lives. But they had a dream, a dream that kept them alive.
Yuri had always been an optimist. Living in a small village on the banks of Tiasmyn River in Central Ukraine, a soviet controlled republic, he was quite content. He lost his father in 1920 when he was only eight and his sister six. More than often, his mother regretted the day his father left home to join the ‘Rebellion’.
“Our nation is falling apart. The autonomy has been compromised. We have been transferred from one oppressive regime to another.” Yuri’s mother recalled their last conversation.
“But we are happy in this regime. There is neither any agitation nor any intrusive soviet action in our village.” His mother consoled his father in the hope of restricting him.
“It’s just a matter of time til the Bolsheviks indoctrinate our society.”
“We have to rise now as a nation and gain independence from these neo-colonial Bolshevik autocrats. It’s my duty as a nationalist to fight for Ukrainian independence.”
“We shall be victorious then and certainly would liberate ourselves from the oppression, we will be facing in the near future.” His eyes glowed with the hope of an utopian flame.
With these words, he left his family, never to return again. Yuri’s father was a great admirer of Ukrainian revolutionary Symon Petliura, who was a social democrat with an unique talent for paramilitary organisation. He joined the “Directory”, which was a pro-Ukrainian force during the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917.
It was 1920 when the letters from Yuri’s father stopped arriving. News flew into the countryside that Cheka (former name of KGB, known as the secret police of soviet regime) had killed approximately 400 rural rebels associated with the pro-Ukrainian movement while Petliura fled to Paris to evade detention. It was quite evident that his father had died fighting the Cheka and the Bolsheviks controlling it.
“We shall be victorious!” These words from Yuri’s father still haunts his mother and fills her eyes with tears of repentance and grief. The Ukrainian Revolution was crumpled by mid-1920s. In a way, Yuri’s father lost his life for nothing, nothing at all.