CHENOBYL: SPRING 2007

There is only one healing force, and that is nature.
                                                        — Arthur Schopenhauer

My favourites are roads that have not been ridden on for years. Sometimes, I leave a log on the road, to see if someone else travels here and when I return in a year or two, I see if my log is still there, which suggests that I still have no followers.

 

Chernobyl is so easily forgotten because it is only known to us. In the first years after the accident we did not want to share our story with the world, now we can not share it, we hardly remember it ourselves. All that remains of the tragic tale is a memory, weak and disfigured by time. In the future, the indifference of people will smother the few remaining embers until at last they too are extinguished. After that, Chernobyl will always remain the inside knowledge of a few individuals and the sole property of Nature.

 

Those houses are already the property of Nature.

 

This house came from the earth and it seems in the earth it goes.

 

The roe deer is crossing the road and jumps around in yards. Here, they are at home and there are plenty of them, which makes me feel like I am in a zoo. Except that in a zoo I am free and they are my object of interest and here they are free and I am the object of their curiosity. In the other words, I feel like I am in a zoo, and they are not the ones who are in cages.

 


Fifteen to twenty years ago people still lived in some of those villages. Back in 1991, the highest radiation measured where people lived was 2000 microroentgen per hour. Levels have fallen since then and the people too.

 

The highest I measured where people lived in 2006 was 250 microR per hour, this sort of level is mild enough for UN officials to call it acceptable, but it is not really safe for people to inhabit these places.

 

Today, the levels here can vary from normal to several hundred or even thousand microroentgen, but those figures do not reflect the real situation. Geiger counters can merely show a silhouette of radiation, its outward sign, its shadow. The body of radiation can only be detected and explored through special analysis. Even through the most delicate radiation detecting pocket device we can see no more than the tip of an iceberg. By reading the geiger counter we know as little of radiation as the little we know about the roots of a tree judging by its crown.

 

Still reading a geiger counters tell us more than reading official reports, but it tells us less than reading from the book of nature. In Chernobyl reading from the book of nature is easy, here the facts themselves are eloquent of a truth—wherever I turn, I stumble upon a fact that humans are outlawed, banned from life. I strain to hear, in hope to receive an answer, but all I can hear is the voice of Nature strongly saying to the human race—I DO NOT NEED YOU!

 

This is a memorial of World War II.

 

Here is another memorial of the Great Patriotic War.

 

This is a memorial of the Civil War. In 1921 the Red Army crushed the White Army troops on the field. I wish I could bring a metal detector and excavate on this field. Unfortunately, all the rich history of Chernobyl is lost for archaeology. It is lost forever and I will always regret this.

 

There are more than 2,000 dead towns and villages within a radius of 250 kms (155 miles) around Chernobyl reactor. Each year I travel and I see more and more ruined places.

 

The only buildings in the area that are not ruined are churches. Travelling through the whole of Chernobyl region I have yet to see any ruined church.

 

Looters are superstitious folks and are afraid to rob churches. Also, nearby community members come to fix the abandoned churches every few years, so like separate islands they stand longer than all the other buildings in the area.

 

When I travel by, I often make a stop by the church. I walk through the wormwood towards the door, it is unlocked. No one is inside, no priests, no smell of incense, no burning candles, only a couple of cheap icons, towels, a slightly radioactive Bible and images of Saints on the walls. I make sure the Bible is left open on the page where the age of wormwood is foretold. Then I stay for a while, looking at radioactive image of Jesus and I ask myself—how long will these churches be here? Can they live without people?

I leave this question to be answered by someone who will travel here in the future and I go back on the road and continue my journey.

Trip to Chernobyl Zone 27th May 2007

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