Espreso. Global
OPINION

Da Vinci. In memoriam

9 March, 2023 Thursday
12:19

I recall arriving in Pisky during the first winter of the war, before (or possibly after) Christmas. 

We departed from a volunteer base located somewhere near Pisky. Our companion, who we referred to as fellow Samurai, opened the bus's side door and carefully surveyed the forest strip while holding his Kalashnikov. It was cold yet calm.

Upon arrival in Pisky, we were promptly taken to "Da Vinci's position." He had already become a legend at that time. The position was situated on the top floor, and the loophole provided a clear view of the towers of the mine in Donetsk, which stood out distinctly in the damp air. Da Vinci himself was absent. When we inquired about his whereabouts, the fighters respectfully and somewhat playfully responded that he had gone to attend his final exams.

I witnessed this reverence many times over. Dima was truly respected and loved, which was moving to see. Even though, battle-hardened men who had faced death on multiple occasions became serious when discussing Da Vinci, recognizing him as the best. I never heard any negative comments about him from military personnel. It was only from our civilian brother that I heard disparaging remarks, such as criticizing him for taking a picture with the wrong person or accepting an award from the wrong hands. Unfortunately, as Ukrainians, we have a reputation for our self-destructive infantilism.

“I witnessed this reverence many times over. Dima was truly respected and loved, which was moving to see. Even though, battle-hardened men who had faced death on multiple occasions became serious when discussing Da Vinci, recognizing him as the best”

We first met Dima in Avdiivka, at his base, and since then, we've kept in touch regularly. Whenever we were in the vicinity, we made a point of meeting up with him. We often brought something to help out, or simply dropped by for a cup of tea (and yes – tea – everything was taken seriously in his unit).

He was quite reserved with us, musicians, writers, and volunteers. He addressed us respectfully and formally, which felt a bit strange. From what I could see, he was confident and persuasive with the soldiers (and not at all rude or arrogant). Their unit seemed to have an atmosphere of equality and mutual respect. However, in front of strangers, he tended to close himself off and behave somewhat like a teenager, a bit defensive and too humble. Nonetheless, he always made a point to thank me. This made me feel especially uncomfortable – I wanted to thank him for everything he does, his coolness and tenacity.

But when discussing his work, he became incredibly candid and enthusiastic, eagerly showcasing videos and maps. It was evident that the war and the front line were his callings, as he excelled in this field and possessed immense potential. Despite his passion for the subject, there was no underlying bloodlust; he regarded the war as a mundane yet vital aspect of his work, something that required daily attention but was ultimately just a job to be done.

“But when discussing his work, he became incredibly candid and enthusiastic, eagerly showcasing videos and maps. It was evident that the war and the front line were his callings, as he excelled in this field and possessed immense potential. Despite his passion for the subject, there was no underlying bloodlust; he regarded the war as a mundane yet vital aspect of his work, something that required daily attention but was ultimately just a job to be done”

I recall how we celebrated Independence Day at his military base. Dima invited his volunteer friends from all over the frontline. The front was much smaller back then, so he could gather whoever he wanted. A group of remarkable individuals came together, heroes and legends who will definitely be the subject of books and films. Dima, being the youngest among them, was treated with respect and equality.

The last time we met was in Kyiv where he was studying. It was evident that he was talented and had significant potential to become a proficient commander. He took his studies somewhat ironically, but responsibly. He was generally serious and responsible.

His passing is undoubtedly a great loss - to his loved ones, his unit, and all of us. Even if we don't realize it yet, he will be deeply missed. However, I believe that he must have calculated the possibility of his death. It's clear that he had thought everything through. After all, a person who has endured nine years of hell surely understands that he may not come back alive from that hell. He has already become a part of our national history during his lifetime - and that's not an exaggeration. In life, he stood alongside legendary figures from Ukraine's past, such as Kryvonis, Honta, Bolbochan, Chuchupaka, and Shukhevych. He was an epic historical figure - profound, expressive, and integral. We are fortunate to have known him, to have observed his journey, his work, his struggle. Our children and grandchildren will wear T-shirts bearing Dima's face because he was an honest and conscientious man who lived a short yet consistent and remarkable life. He left behind a legacy of dignity and a memory that will never fade away.

“War always comes with losses, but Dima's passing mustn't crush our spirits. Instead, it must strengthen us. What is strength, you may ask? It's a blend of love and anger. We now have to work for him too”

War always comes with losses, but it seems to me Dima's passing mustn't crush our spirits. Instead, it must strengthen us. What is strength, you may ask? It's a blend of love and anger. We now have to work for Dima, just as he, through his memory and legacy, will continue to work for our victory. We have to win, not only for our fallen friend but also for our children, who will carry his memory with them.

Rest in peace, my friend. You were authentic and truthful. Your mere presence made everything around you brighter.

Source

About the author. Serhii Zhadan, writer

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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