I used to pack my backpack every spring. It’s a ritual with which unity with nature begins. When the backpack emerges out of the couch that means May holidays are coming, and I’ll be wandering about the Crimean mountains for at least a week. Warm clothes, sleeping bag, packed meal, flashlight, first-aid kit and maps are placed in the backpack. It all has to be light, compact and reliable to ensure the survival far from home. Each item is weighted and packed with love. I feel sentiments of joy and sense of freedom swelling in my bosom. It had always been that way. But not this time…

Spring-2014 changed my world, my life and even my memories. The Crimea was stolen by our “brothers” – the neighbouring country of which nobody expected a stab in the back. They not just stole my Crimea, but stole my childhood, my first love, my walking trips with best friends, my first May sea, so cold and so dear. Now it’s gone – it was sponged out of my soul, seized and defamed. 

Only the backpack remained, but now it has a completely different meaning…Nowadays men and women are packing such backpacks for soldiers going to war. The war that wasn’t declared and that’s even more terrible. On the other hand, what can be worse than a crazy neighbour aiming his firearm at you, though swore eternal friendship yesterday? Today hundreds of people pack backpacks; they understand that their campaign is a campaign for freedom, for happiness, but still it’s as bad as ever to see off the sons, brothers, husbands and fathers at war. 

Some day the war will be over and a backpack will become a symbol of rest and not a terrible trip into the unknown. Perhaps it will be a long time before it happens, perhaps these soul wounds will be closing for years, but independence, freedom and integrity are what we will take with us in the future when we will be travelling all over the country. And of course, we will remember those who were packing their backpacks despite fear and pain.

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