The time when the Ukrainians were standing in long queues have irrevocably gone. However, one of the few places for “waiting in line” are windows at post-offices where people pay for electricity, water, gas, radio, accommodation, etc. This morning I was queuing up to pay my utility bills too. I came some thirty minutes before the post-office was to be opened. There were already about twenty people before me, and by the opening hour the additional forty were lining up behind.

Since long I have learned not to lose time in queues. Today I was reading Drei Kameraden by Erich Maria Remarque. It was the fourth or the fifth time that I read it. First when I was a schoolboy, before I even began studying German. Then I read it to learn the language. Now I’m reading it mainly “for pleasure.” If you can call “pleasure’ the realization of how unstable the borderline between life and death is, how tragic is the very existence of Man. The tragedy lies in the very fact of Man’s existential thinking . The moment you start to understand the isolation of your personal experience, or the hostility and indifference of the outside world, you feel you don’t “belong.” Just as didn’t “belong” the guys who had returned from the trenches of the Great War, which in those days wasn’t yet named WWI.

“I’m the second in the queue, the second!” shouted a middle-aged lady into her cell phone. Her voice was happy and there was heavy make-up on her face. She and my book were worlds apart.


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