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Pride of the country |Babo Khatashvili, 76 [ENG]

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Village Kldu, Kareli 

They talk to me. Perched on this, well, this chandelier, the swallows talk to me. You won’t be bored with them. Last year, the year before last, I destroyed their nest, but they keep coming back to build it again and again. 

They talk like people. 

Only a few families stayed behind. The rest left, everyone left. In those years, many even came to us from Dirby (1991-1992). Their cattle were driven out. God bless our neighbors, they helped. The owner of this house here gave me gold for safekeeping, in a half-liter jar. I later gave it all back, counted it piece by piece. I had it buried in the ground. I thought to myself, so the kids and boys can’t get to it. We went to Ordzhonikidze and came back. But many left for good. 

“So the Georgians don’t terrorize us any more, that’s why we’re leaving,” they said. 

The owners of this house, they had goats, so many that they’d never even thought twice about killing one, even without a special occasion. So that night, they had their boy as a guest. He was helping the head of the house, who said, Stay the night, let’s break bread together. 

What a boy he was! How could the gun not spare him?! They came at night to steal the cattle with guns. This boy came out, said, Leave! He told the women: “I'll go”. What do you want, y’think I don’t know you? You don’t need guns. Don’t shoot, can’t you see who I am? He called out in Georgian. 

They shot him and killed him right then and there. That kind of boy, some would say, what kind of mother had raised him?

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It was Tortladze who shot him. Later on, his family was wiped out completely, no household left, the husband died, the bride died, mother, father, two brothers were sent six feet under. They had many sins, that family. The older boy was supposed to have a wedding the next day and he said he had to take the tractor out. 

No, boy, the brakes don’t work, they told him. 

No, I must go, he said. The reckless boy that he was, where was he taking this huge tractor? He climbed up on top and they called out his time of death at Ilyosha’s house. The car turned upside down, burying him underneath. Their other boy got cancer and died. 

It was those Tortladze boys who shot him even though he had called out to tell them there was no need for guns. They shot the boy who was the pride of the country. 


From the series, “Rebuilding Memories for future - South Ossetia 1991/2008”
Oral History Collected by: Toma Sukhashvili and Saba Tsitsikashvili 
Transcribed by: Mariam Urushadze

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