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Blisters | Natasha Dzajaeva, from Tskhinval

Natasha Dajaeva, 83 years old, from Tskhinvali. She is recalling the 2008 August War. 

On the morning of the 8th of August, after the heavy firings the whole night, I ran to my neighbor to see how they were doing. On my way back home, my second neighbor called out, come here, she said. Galia and Elina were mother and daughter. They lived alone, too. The father got killed at the beginning of the 90s, her brother died in the 2006 attack, as well. At first, I felt like something was tugging at me, I didn’t want to go, but I crossed the street and entered the garage. They didn’t have a basement, they were sitting in the hole where they fix cars at the garage. 

I sat down on the stoop, they sat on the other side. In a short while, I heard the sound of what sounded like a shell falling on the garage, but it didn’t explode. At that moment, I felt something was falling on top of my head. I couldn’t figure out what it was, I stood up and all of a sudden, I was on fire. Apparently, they had a canister of gas on top, and shrapnel had hit it. The whole thing had spilled all over us. 

I ran into the street, I was trying to put the fire out on my body as much as I could by rolling on the ground. My clothing and hair were all burned off. I was burned badly from the waist up. The skin on my hands was coming off me like a sock. They took me to the neighbors. For two days they took care of me. When the Russian army came in, they sent me to Moscow. I was there for eight months. Everyone said it was a miracle I survived. From my feet to my back, they were cutting away blistered skin, they almost cut me down entirely. At that time, my son had died here, I couldn’t even cry for him since they only told me when I came back. 

Galia and Elina couldn’t leave the garage by themselves, they were just too burnt. They were also saved by a neighbor. Elina was conscious, but she died soon after. Galia was burned worse. She didn’t lose consciousness either. She couldn’t see, her eyes were burned out, but when she couldn’t hear her daughter’s voice anymore, she asked where she was. They told her she was taken by an ambulance. In reality, the neighbors had taken her to Vladikavkaz to be buried by her uncle. Who would’ve buried her here?! Galia was sent to Moscow like me but they couldn’t save her. They transported her body and buried her next to her daughter. 

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From the series “Rebuilding Memories for future- South Ossetia 1991/2008” 
Text: Zarina Sanakoeva


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