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在我的家乡乌克兰,夏日午后死亡的气味

In My Homeland, the Smell of Death on a Summer Afternoon
在我的家乡乌克兰,夏日午后死亡的气味

LYSYCHANSK, Ukraine — There was a mass grave that held 300 people, and I was standing at its edge. The chalky body bags were piled up in the pit, exposed. One moment before, I was a different person, someone who never knew how wind smelled after it passed over the dead on a pleasant summer afternoon.

乌克兰利西昌斯克——这是一个埋了300具尸骨的乱葬岗,我就站在边上。灰白色的尸袋堆在坑里,没有掩埋。就在不久前,我还不知道,在一个美好的夏天午后,风吹过尸体是什么气味。

In mid-June, those corpses were far from a complete count of the civilians killed by shelling in the area around the industrial city of Lysychansk over the previous two months. They were only “the ones who did not have anyone to bury them in a garden or a backyard,” a soldier said casually.

那是6月中旬在工业城市利西昌斯克附近,因两个月来的炮击而丧生的平民远远不止眼前这些尸体。这些只是因为“没人把他们葬在花园或后院”,一名士兵平淡地说。
 

6月中旬在利西昌斯克一处乱葬岗旁的乌克兰士兵,这里埋葬了数百具无人认领的平民尸体。这些只是因为“没人把他们葬在花园或后院”,一名士兵平淡地说。

He lit a cigarette while we looked at the grave.

我们看着坟坑,他点了一支烟。

The smoke obscured the smell.

烟雾掩盖了气味。

It was rare to get such a moment to slow down, observe and reflect while reporting from Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. But that day, the Ukrainian soldiers were pleased after delivering packets of food and other goods to local civilians, so they offered to take reporters from The New York Times to another site that they said we should see: the mass grave.

在乌克兰东部顿巴斯地区进行报道的日子里,极少能有这样放慢步伐、观察并反思的时刻。但那天,乌克兰士兵在给当地平民派发食物和其他物品后心情不错,所以他们提议带《纽约时报》的记者去另一个他们认为我们应该去看看的地方:乱葬岗。

After leaving the site, I naïvely thought the palpable presence of death in the air could not follow me home — over all of the roads and checkpoints separating the graves in the Donbas — to my loved ones in the western part of Ukraine.

在离开坟坑后,我天真地以为空气中明显存在的死亡气息在顿巴斯途经那么多条道路和检查点后,不会跟着我回到乌克兰西部的家,来到我的家人身边。

I was wrong.

我错了。

I had returned to Kyiv, the capital, to the small apartment I had been renting, and was washing the smoke and dust of the front lines off my clothes when my best friend, Yulia, texted: She had lost her cousin, a soldier, fighting in the east.

我回到了首都基辅,回到了我租的小公寓。正在在清洗衣服上从前线沾染的硝烟和尘土时,我最好的朋友尤利娅发来信息:她的表亲,一名士兵,在东部的战斗中牺牲了。

I would soon have to stand over another grave.

没过多久我就得造访另一个坟墓。

It was an experience familiar to many Ukrainians. Five months after the full-scale Russian invasion began, the wars’ front lines mean little. Missile strikes and the news of death and casualties have blackened nearly every part of the country like poison.

这是许多乌克兰人熟悉的经历。俄罗斯开始全面入侵五个月以来,这场战争已经几乎谈不上所谓的前线。导弹袭击以及伤亡信息像毒药一样蔓延,使这个国家的几乎每一个地方变得黑暗。

Yulia’s cousin Serhiy was serving in an air mobile battalion around the city of Izium in the east. A few hours before he died, he sent his last message to his mother, Halyna: an emoji of a flower bouquet. Then he drove to the fight on the front line, where a Russian machine gun found him.

尤利娅的表亲谢尔伊在东部伊齐乌姆市附近的一个空突营服役。在去世前几个小时,他给他的母亲哈琳娜发了最后一条信息:一个花束的表情符号。然后他开车前往前线战斗,被俄军的机枪击中。

In Donbas, these tragedies are a backdrop to everyday existence, piling up in numbers that seem inconceivable even as they completely surround you, an inescapable reality that feels like the very air in your lungs.

在顿巴斯,这样的悲剧是日常生活的背景,它们不断发生,多到让人难以置信,它们将你完全包围,无法逃离的现实犹如吸入肺里的空气。

There is no catharsis for the people living in the frontline regions. Instead, they seem overwhelmed by the vastness of what is going on around them — as if it’s an existential threat too big for them to do anything about. So they wait numbly for what often seems the inevitable outcome, hypnotized by indecision, all while often forgetting they are directly in harm’s way.

生活在前线地区的人们没有宣泄。他们似乎对周围发生的事情反而感到不知所措——这就像一个巨大的生存威胁,大到让人只能坐以待毙。因此,他们麻木地等待通常看似不可避免的结果到来,在举棋不定中催眠自己,同时经常忘记他们正处于危险之中。

It felt different in the west, away from the front. In the Donbas, almost every sudden odd noise was exactly what you suspected it to be: something lethal flying nearby, seeking out the living.

在远离前线的乌克兰西部是不一样的感受。在顿巴斯,几乎所有突然发出的异响都是你猜到的那样:某种致命的东西在附近飞过,寻找着有生命的东西。

In contrast, Kyiv was almost peaceful. With running water, gas, electricity and internet, it was far from the medieval conditions of a destroyed Lysychansk. People were playing Frisbee and walking dogs in the parks, devoid of the bodily stiffness and sense of dread that accompanies the threat of sudden death.

相比之下,基辅几乎是平静的。有自来水、天然气、电力和互联网,与被摧毁的利西昌斯克的蛮荒景象相去甚远。人们在公园里玩飞盘和遛狗,感受不到死亡即刻来临的威胁所带来的身体僵硬和恐惧感。

The chain of midsummer missile strikes on cities far from the fighting in the east and south had only just started, turning the daily news of killed civilians into a nightmare: unsuspecting people — children among them — blasted apart or burned alive inside malls and medical centers in broad daylight. It left tight knots in our stomachs, but they hadn’t transformed yet into something almost genetic, a terror that would be passed on to the offspring by the survivors of this war.

仲夏期间,对远离东部和南部战场的城市进行的一系列导弹袭击才刚刚开始,每天关于平民丧生的新闻变成一场噩梦:毫无准备的人——其中包括儿童——在商场和医疗中心内被炸得四分五裂,或在光天化日之下被活活烧死。这些事情使我们感到胃痛如绞,但还不至于像基因一般嵌入我们的身体——一种将被这场战争的幸存者传给后代的恐惧。

Another nightmare, a private one, was contained in Serhiy’s coffin, closed to spare the family the sight of his wounds. It heralded the war’s arrival in Lishchyn,, a postage stamp of a village in northwest Ukraine where Yulia’s family came from. There was no thud of artillery or shriek from a missile, just the quiet hum of a funeral procession.

另一个噩梦,我自己的噩梦,在谢尔伊没有打开棺盖的棺材里——这样做是为了避免家人看到他受到的伤害。它预示着战争已经到达利尚,乌克兰西北部一个小的不能再小的村庄,尤利娅的家族来自那里。没有炮火轰鸣,也没有刺耳的导弹发射,只有葬礼过程中的平静低语。

Because of soldiers like Serhiy fighting on the front line, the village residents still had their present and future, distorted by war, but protected. That’s why, on that Saturday morning, hundreds of them came to Serhiy’s parents’ yard to share the weight of their grief and take a long farewell walk with the family.

正是因为有谢尔伊这样的士兵在前线战斗,村里的居民仍然拥有现在和未来,虽然被战争扭曲,但受到了保护。这就是为什么在那个周六早上,数百人来到谢尔伊父母的院子里分担他们的悲痛,陪伴他的家人走上漫长的告别之路。

As the priest read prayers to the crowd, a flock of swallows maneuvered high above us — a set of peaceful black spots crossing the blue sky. One of them flew down and sat on a wire just above Serhiy’s mother, who was wailing by the coffin, placed on a pair of kitchen stools outside the house.

当牧师向人群念诵祷告时,一群燕子飞过我们的头顶——一组平静的黑点划过蓝天。其中一个飞了下来,站在一根电线上,正好停在谢尔伊母亲上方。棺材放在屋外的一对厨房凳子上,她正在棺材旁哭泣。

I’ve watched these ceremonies before on reporting duty, but from the emotionally safe distance of an outsider. But that day, there was Yulia, trembling in the wind. So I put my arm around my best friend, as close to a person’s raw pain as ever before.

我曾作为一个在情感上保持着安全距离的外人,在执行报道任务时见过这样的葬礼。但那天有尤利娅,她在风中颤抖。我搂着我最好的朋友,从未如此接近一个人最原始的伤痛。

Hours later, when the prayers ended, Halyna could not cry anymore. She just spoke quietly to her son, the way she used to over 30 years ago, when he was a newborn, his face in the cradle as tiny as the face in the funeral photograph of the smiling uniformed man holding a rocket launcher.

几小时后,祷告结束了,哈琳娜已经哭不出来了。她对儿子小声说着话,如同30年前他刚出生的时候,那个摇篮中的小脸后来成了葬礼照片上的男人,他穿着军装,微笑着,手里拿着一支火箭筒。

Finally, we made the long walk to take Serhiy from the family’s yard to his grave.

最后,我们带着谢尔伊走完了从家里院子到坟墓的漫长路程。

Hundreds of people walked with Serhiy’s parents through his native village. There was a shop where he might have bought his first cigarettes, and a lake where he probably swam after ditching school with his friends.

数百人陪着谢尔伊的父母走过他出生的村庄。这里有家商店,也许是他第一次买烟的地方,还有一片湖泊,也许他和朋友翘课来这里游过泳。

Experiences from Serhiy’s life seemed to hide in every corner of their village. It made the walk excruciatingly long.

他们村庄的每个角落似乎都隐藏着谢尔伊的人生经历,使这段路途长得令人难以忍受。

My steps that day fell in concert with the pain of one family — but just one. There are so many more in this war, which seems far from over.

在那天,我的步伐与一个家庭的悲痛同调——但只是这一个家庭。还有那么多的家庭被卷入了这场似乎远未结束的战争。

It was hard to keep my thoughts from drifting back over the wheat fields of Donbas, to that yawning mass grave in Lysychansk.

我无法阻止我的思绪飘过顿巴斯的麦田,回到利西昌斯克那条堆着尸体的大沟。

There was no one present to mourn them there. After the Russians took over the city during the last days of June, the 300 body bags with name tags attached by Ukrainian soldiers were probably joined by many more, unnamed. But I figured that someone somewhere was quietly mourning each of them.

在那里,没有人为他们哀悼。俄罗斯军队在6月末占领了这座城市,这里有300个由乌克兰士兵挂上名字标签的尸袋,可能还有更多是无名的。但我觉得,他们每一个人都有某个人在某个地方哀悼。

Now, as I’m writing this, others are walking those same tracks of remembrance and loss throughout Ukraine — over city alleys and wheat fields, over rubble and broken glass, through eastern steppes, western forests, liberated villages, trenches and bleeding cities at the edge of the front line.

现在,就在我写这篇文章的时候,在乌克兰全国各地都有人在经历同样的缅怀和痛失——越过城中小巷和麦田、瓦砾和碎玻璃,穿过东部的草原、西部的森林、获得解放的村庄,在前线边缘的战壕和流血的城市。

Ahead, there will be a sunny afternoon for some of us to stop, take the hand of someone we love and let go of everything and everyone we lost to the war.

有一天,我们会在一个阳光明媚的下午停下脚步,牵着我们爱的人的手,终于放下我们在战争中失去的所有人和物。

But how long is the walk to get there?

但是,离那天还有多久?
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