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Between heaven and earth

I had met this remarkable woman in Novozybkov town of Bryansk region. She crossed the road confidently on homemade wheelchair and stopped cars by lifting her hand. It was possibly met our war veteran on a such vehicle after the Second World War, but to see it in 2015 was quite strange.

I become acquainted with her. I explained that I would like to show the person strong in spirit. She agreed and we walked on the market together. I carried her heavy bag with goods in one hand and my camera in the other one. I took photographs from my chest level in order not to attract attention of passers-by. Many people on the marked, both salesman and customers, looked askance at us and some of them addressed me foul words. But Olga stopped them by telling ‘The reporter takes photographs of me. Don’t shout and be envious privately‘. You could not explain the matter to everyone. We felt humans lack of understanding, astonishment and blame.

Olga Ephimovna is not drink alkohol. She is a religious person. I asked her ''Where do you live?'' and she answered ''Between heaven and earth''. She gets disability pension, but she has never refused money that people gave her on the streets. In hers turn, she gives money for Gypsy’s children who are singing on the streets. She also donated money for rebuilding of the Blessed Virgin’s Christmas church in Ludkovo village of Bryansk region.

We had been going from the market to the municipal authorities’ office for quite a long time exchanging jokes and humorous saying. We mainly moved in the middle of the road as the pavements were not suitable for wheelchair.

''It is training for drivers, to let them be more careful and drive me around'' she said. Frankly speaking, it was not so easy to communicate with Olga Mel’nikova. She answered evasively to my questions. It was clear that she distrusted nodding acquaintance. I observed that she communicated with authorities in the same manner. She asked and demanded of something, but didn’t get proper understanding and left the office proudly.

She continued her way with dignity.


© Александр Степаненко, 2024