Entry for November 21, 2007

DISSATISFACTION

There must be some legal grounds for Abdul’s living in Ukraine. When from time to he is stopped in the street by the police he shows them a kind of certificate which explains who he is and why he is here. Why should he be stopped? It’s because he does not look like an ordinary Ukrainian and is clearly recognized as an “international” (to be more specific, as a native of the Near East or Middle East). Until recently Abdul had been speaking about the necessity to have his passport extended because it was expiring in a few months and with the expired passport he faced the threat of being deported to his native country where he was sure to be put in jail just because of his convictions and beliefs. The Ukrainian officials explained to him that there was some snag in his case and the passport could be extended only if some additional fee was paid. The fee varied considerably from lawyer to lawyer. The only common factor in all that variation was that the fee was too big for Abdul to pay. So, it looked like it was a real fix for Abdul.

But I wish you could see him last Sunday. He was quite a new man! All smiles and cheers! It turned out that with all his going offices and knocking doors he had run into a clerk who stamped Abdul’s passport, permitting Abdul to live in Ukraine for another year. And all that was done for a few hryvnas of the official fee – just a mere nothing compared to the amounts demanded by the extortionists earlier.

I am a Ukrainian national – with the passport that guarantees my stay in this democracy as long as I live (you may call it a “democracy” if you forget that people who look like Arabs or Turks are stopped by the police and their identification papers are checked – to say nothing of the journalists who may be murdered only because they expose the machinations of the powers-that-be). Yes, the passport requires periodic extensions – every 20 years – but only because my countenance ages and I may look different from what I looked 20 years ago. And nobody will tell me to pay six or ten thousand dollars for the extension. However, my average attitude is that of DISSATISFACTION. I am dissatisfied with everything – with neighbors, with dirty stairwells of my apartment house and graffiti on the walls, with overcrowded buses, low salaries, rising prices, with bookshops closed down and posh shops opened in their stead, with the inefficient president and the aggressive premier, with the ruling coalition and the parliamentary opposition… Shouldn’t I look at Abdul and be happy just because Abdul would be more that happy to be a citizen of this country?

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