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Unfiled January 22, 2003
 
Tynda Update
By Jake Rudnitsky Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 2
 
The more I learned about the family, the more it disintegrated before my eyes. Talking with Sonya, Kolya's mother, while drinking shots of samogon brewed under the kitchen table, I learned that the 14-year-old brother Vladislav had run away in early November. He had always been the smart, obedient one. Then, when he started getting obsessed with computer games, Kolya filled in for their deadbeat father and took control of discipline.

Sonya said it didn't matter how hard Kolya beat him. Vladislav still wouldn't listen. He'd go to school with black eyes, but even that wasn't enough to cure him of his computer habit. And now he'd run away.

All around the city I started noticing behavior that I hadn't seen at first. It might have been initially concealed from me, or maybe I just wasn't tuned into it yet. At work, future corpses down shots from the very beginning of the day. Everyone stays at least slightly drunk always, and yet they maintain the pretense that things are getting done. Of course, nothing ever is. It's just a way to anesthetize themselves as they wait for death, when they'll finally have a purpose.

Tyndians for some reason prefer waiting to suicide, maybe so that they don't taint their flesh before the ice immortalizes them. Or maybe they enjoy debauchery because they know in death they'll remain pure. Whatever the reason, Tynda's entire population obediently waits to die with legendary Russian patience. The babushka, for all her talk about leaving, will never go. Twice now she has used the train ticket as an excuse to get me to prepay. But how could she live for so many years among such rot and then leave right on the cusp of salvation?

Vladislav, for his part, cut a much more sympathetic before he made a dramatic return on New Year's Eve. I had thought that maybe he was na?ve enough to think he still has a chance to live. But, having seen him spend hours pouring over a manual for a microwave oven (Sonya's New Year's gift) and run in my room every time I connected to the internet to stare absently over my shoulder at a screen filled by a language he doesn't know, I realized I overestimated him. He too is a part of the anonymous ranks of the living dead killing time till they make it into an eternal grave.

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