Somewhere in Ukraine’s vastness, what is left of a 9-storey residential building stands like a fragile, charred skeleton, almost indistinguishable from the equally grey, angry sky behind it. Its middle section completely missing, the smoking gap is flanked on each side by two equally-sized, sister sections that seem to be pondering whether to collapse or not.
The heart of the building was ripped out, like the heart of each Ukrainian, like the murdered baby of the murdered woman in Mariupol. We saw them both survive the bombing. We watched them being carried on the stretcher, as she caressed her belly with the last strength she had left. And then we watched them die, in the comfort of our television room. We all saw the movie in vivid technicolour, probably while having dinner. We saw the blackened buildings eaten alive by big orange flames. We saw the pregnant woman’s half-lifeless gaze, as she stared into the camera, into life, for the very last time. She was staring down into the tunnel of death.
We all saw the movie. And we are still treating it like a movie: a movie we can choose to turn off, pause, or fast-forward.
But it’s not a fucking movie. And we are not spectators. We are actors whether we like it or not, playing a silly pantomime theatre at the fringes of the warzone, like silent props within a film set. Our hands are tied and mouths are gagged by Putin-fear, while the main actors valiantly live and die alone, right in front of our tiny black eyes. We fade in the background. We are the filmset. We are a yellow star-spangled blue banner that is about to get bloody, as the tragic hero dies in the middle of the set. There are two flags on this movie set, made of exactly the same two colours: blue and yellow. But how similar are they?
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books