Sometimes I think about visiting my grandparent’s house as a teenager. Seeing all these weird European artefacts and dining on Latvian treats; my parents and grandparents would even speak to each other in this weird foreign language, then on the odd occasion I’d be shown these hand-written letters and photos of my “family back home.” It was nice, especially thinking about this in hindsight.
But honestly, in my formative years, I never knew quite what to make of all this. Like, I think the language barrier definitely held me back from exploring this part of myself further, plus, the geographical distance emphasised the divide. Latvia wasn’t only another country, to me it was another world.
As I slowly got older, I began to explore my background, you know like where my family is from and why they left kinda stuff. I do wish that this was something I’d done in much more depth though.
Still, my family left Europe right at the end of WWII, and the reason was because one of my uncles was adamant that it would only be a matter of time until another war broke out. So, this one bloke basically talked my whole family into leaving and to move as far away as possible. Well, he sure did that.
This war breaking out in Europe preminission, uncle John sure was right, only it did take seventy years. Well, that’s if you exclude the Chechnya and Georgian fat beefs. Or, maybe I should say annillations.
So yeah, Putin, he’s a fair dickhead. All these imperialist ideations of reuniting the Soviet Union, which funnily Latvia was one of the break-away states – hm, and I think it was in 1990 that they regained independence. Thanks Gorby. But because of all this knowledge of history (and personal history I guess too), geez I have strong feelings about this war in Ukraine. I also have this unbelievable sense of empathy. Like shit, Putin could have very easily invaded Latvia (only I’m sure a major deterrent is that we’re in NATO).
Nevertheless, this empathy and compassion that I feel, for this reason I’ve been following the updates on the war closely. Actually, I’ve been watching the updates regularly on YouTube, and almost daily I’m overcome with this strange disbelief. Like I often imagine what it might be like living there, blimey having all these bombs drop from the sky, having Russian soldiers occupy your village (and even torture or kill you). And why? Because you happen to live in an area that Putin believes is rightfully his.
These days, when watching all these clips of the war in Ukraine, I often think of my “family back home” and wonder how they must be feeling. Are they scared? Are they ready to defend their homes should the worst happen? I don’t think this will occur, I don’t think Latvia will be invaded, but if a nuclear bomb goes off they sure might cop a fair bit of that fallout. It’s pretty sad and shit.
And you know, if it wasn’t for my uncle John, I wonder how I might be feeling right now. Yep, I could very easily be living over there, I’d probably even be married to a supermodel (OMG Latvian women are so good looking, seriously). But yeah, my life could have easily turned out very differently, and as sad as it is, maybe I could be the guy hiding out with my family in a bomb shelter. Like in the past, my family members have always been close to or part of wars, like I remember being told the story of how my grandfather sat up on a hill and literally watched the bombing of Dresden. Nuts.
But yeah, war is shit, and what it currently going on in Ukraine is absolutely heartbreaking. Heck, even for the Russian citizens who don’t want any part of this egomaniacs blatant land grab, well just a few days ago there was a partial mobilisation of the Russian armed forces (because Ukraine has been starting to make some substantial gains). Then today these “sham” referendums are being held in the Ukrainian provinces that Russia is trying to annex. Sheez, it’s all happening.
It is one escalation after another, and honestly you’ve gotta wonder how this is all gonna end up. Like blimey, so much of the Ukrainian infrastructure has already been destroyed, then several cities levelled, what’s next? Well, I think Secretary Blinken put it best yesterday at the UN general assembly when he said, “if Russia stops fighting tomorrow the war is over; if Ukraine stops fighting tomorrow Ukraine is over.” So sad. Peace.