Scroll | Ana Jebisashvili, from Znauri27.05.2021 | 10 Min to read
Ana Jebisashvili, 73 Years Old. From Znauri
Today she lives in the IDP settlement in Didi Dighomi.
In 1972, I was placed as a teacher in Znauri. I got married to a Begiashvili that year. My husband worked in different positions, he had many Ossetian friends. We never had anything but respect for them.
After April 9, 1989 the situation got tense.
Georgians and Ossetians, the intelligentsia, who realising what was going on, tried to avoid confrontations. We discussed, held meetings, we gathered in front of the Executive Committee building, they would come down from Tskhinvali, we would make speeches, we would call for peace. But there were many who only saw things from their narrow self-interest, Ossetians attacked Georgians and Georgians attacked Georgians - only the intelligent people stood aside.
Then the war started. Families fled to safety. Shiukaev had a Georgian wife, three daughters, and one son. He sent them all to Tbilisi. They took shelter with the wife's sister. Gamsakhurdia was doing an awful thing. What did an Ossetian do wrong? What right do you have to evict him, to tell him to leave his house and flee?!
One day I went out, a woman brought us news that a Georgian school was burned in Znauri, our school. May God protect everyone from the pain I experienced then. I ran off. In front of the school, a sulfur spring was flowing. When I got there, people were packed, all of the Ossetians were standing and filling up the buckets. One would fill it up and pass it to the second person, and the second person passed it to the third. There was a long line from the spring to the school. But they couldn't put it out. It all turned to ash. I watched it burn and cried.
I came back in the evening. I was about to turn on to the street by my house when a boy with a gun came out. He aimed it right at me. What's going on? I said. Where are you going? He asked. I am standing guard and not letting anyone pass, he said. Where are you not letting me go? I am going home, I live here, I said. My kids were already in Tbilisi, the older one was a student. I started thinking, should I tell him who I am? What if he shoots me? He didn't seem normal. They burned down my Georgian school, and I went to see it, I said. It's good if they burned it down, they should've done more, he said. At that time, Vaja Kabulovi came out, he saw me through the window. He picked that boy by the scruff of his neck and threw him out. Leave, he said. I understood that part. Who do you think you are aiming at? Who do you think you're not allowing to pass? He told him in Ossetian. I was very pleased. The boy Kabulovi had authority.
We still stayed there for one year, my husband and I. At first, we couldn't see the danger, no one was beating us. Then, these little boys of the village, poor them, found four guns in the settlement and pretended to guard the village, they bragged about it. One day a neighbor woman told some Ossetians that the boys had guns. She told them they were drinking all night. And they came. They caught all four of them with guns and threw them in the basement of the restaurant. Who was supposed to help them? There was no one left. So my husband went and set them free.
For the moment the family was protected, we even kept some of our neighbor's belongings. But then one day, they came with automatics. I didn't expect him to do that. We knew him, he even had a Georgian daughter-in-law, he was Ossetian himself. Anyhow, he said his daughter-in-law was captured by Georgians in Agara and told us we had to all go and bring her back or he would set fire to us. I'll go, you go to the garden and hide in the corn, and something is sure to come along, my husband told me. Either we return from there alive or dead.
I sat in the corn until evening. Then a lamp was lit in one of the homes. An Ossetian woman lived there, she had a Georgian husband, I thought I'd go there. I climbed the fence. I knocked, she opened the door - come in, she said. What am I supposed to do now? Where am I supposed to hide you? She said. When I heard that, I got angry. Curiously, it gave me courage.
I am not going to hide anywhere, I will sit here and get warm, I said. It was fall at the time.
In a little while, we heard a knock. Oh no, it's the voice of that man who took the people, I said. She pointed me to the room. Go, hide under the bed, she said. I am not going to hide and let him come in and say something to me, I'll show him, I said. He will tell me instead of you, she said. He won't say anything to you, I said.
How was I supposed to crawl in there? There was barely any room under the bed.
This woman left to answer the door. Did they leave? He asked in Ossetian. It was about us. Even Vakho? He asked. Yes, no one is left there, she said. This woman thought I wouldn't hear, she ratted us out. Traitor. She had Georgian children, we had done so much for them, so why couldn’t she just say, she didn't know? Maybe then, they would've never gone in there. Then I heard a car sound, they went into the yard, and cleaned out our entire house, they took everything. Maybe he would have hesitated with me there? After all, I taught five of his children, and if he saw me, wouldn't he have felt a pang of hesitation?
When we went to Kareli, his daughter-in-law didn't know anything, my husband told me. She was even surprised to see us. Georgians just saw me out, she said. He was looking for reasons to get us out of the way so he could rob us, my husband said.
But now I was thinking about the fact that we had the property deed, the scroll, from earlier when our family bought the land. The kids spread the word that this land was ours, and that we could prove it with documents. Anyhow, even our Ossetian in-law told us that they were looking for some documents that prove that this land belongs to Georgians, they wanted to get a hold of it. I keep thinking, it might be the reason they showed up.
From the Series, “Recalling Memories - South Ossetia 1991/2008”
Text: Nino Lomadze
Transcription by: Mariam Sisauri
Photo from Ana Jebiashvili's archive