Olga

Prairie Fire - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - MAU­RICE MIERAU

THE HO­TEL, IN SUB­UR­BAN KYIV, WAS DEC­O­RATED in a faux me­dieval style, with vel­vet paint­ings on wall ta­pes­tries and fake ceil­ing beams. Olga joined me in the din­ing room for a get-to-know-you ses­sion. She told me sev­eral pieces of in­for­ma­tion that seemed un­re­lated to each other, though it could have been my jet lag. She was born in Azer­bai­jan in As­tara, on the old Soviet bor­der with Iran, in 1972. Her fa­ther was a tank com­man­der, a colonel in charge of his re­gional gar­ri­son. She told me about a twenty-five-year-old woman she knew who wanted a tat­too but said her boyfriend wouldn’t like it. Olga said: “Whose body is it? Are you his pet?” Olga also told me that she was a strict veg­e­tar­ian, very con­cerned with her health, and that she smoked cig­a­rettes.

And we talked about the war. Olga had lost her long-stand­ing job as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor for an Amer­i­can adop­tion agency be­cause of it, and she and her part­ner, Alex had to flee from the oc­cu­pied zone. She said prices had risen a lot. Their rent had gone up by ten per­cent twice in the last two years; there were no rent con­trols.

“I hate the peo­ple who come into my coun­try to kill,” she said. I asked her if she had par­tic­i­pated in the Euro­maidan protests. She said no, and that all the protestors were paid, by one side or the other.

“All of them?” I was shocked at this opin­ion.

“Yes. You see, not all pa­tri­ots jump on their desks.” She and Alex helped as vol­un­teers for the Ukrainian war ef­fort by de­liv­er­ing si­lencers and night vi­sion gog­gles—they drove them to the front or mailed them di­rectly to in­di­vid­ual sol­diers. These ac­tiv­i­ties were

co­or­di­nated through an on­line fo­rum they be­longed to called the Honda Mafia, which con­sisted of Honda ve­hi­cle own­ers. Then she told me that she never watched the news on tele­vi­sion, be­cause it was all lies. The truth, she said, was on the In­ter­net.

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