Reasons to be cheerful

We sat in someone’s office after hours in Simferopol, because that felt safer than sitting in a bar or cafe.

These people are I guess what you would call the Crimean intelligensia – psychologists and PhD students, journalists, political scientists. Russian and Ukrainian and Jewish and Crimean Tatar. We drank red wine and were so upset at the fate of Crimea that one of us decided we had to think positive.

We had to find reasons to be cheerful.

This has brought Ukrainians together, one suggested. Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars too. We’re uniting in the face of an outside aggressor…

Everyone nodded sadly.

Maybe Russia taking over Crimea won’t be such a disaster, another suggested. Maybe we’ll get decent infrastructure at last. I’m not talking about roads off course, because when is Russia going to build proper roads? But services, and, and…

Everyone looked sceptical.

It’s brought the Russians closer to us, said a third, not really joking, so we can stick a knife into them.

Everyone else started talking about Yugoslavia, Chechnya, the Left Bank – how violence is never the answer and only breeds more violence and trauma.

There was a silence, and more red wine.

Someone said: It’s made us all lose weight.

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A novel about the Crimean Tatars' return to their homeland


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