To: Marguerite Barankitse
From: Nargiza Ryskulova, from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
January 16, 2017.
The day I started this letter, the sky was black. I woke up to the breaking news about a Turkish cargo plane that has crashed into Kyrgyz homes. Leaving over 30 people dead and dozens wounded. As minutes went by the horrific details about the news grew; the plane crashed down into the 23 houses as families were sleeping, among them were men, women and children. The children were of different ages: four, five, 12 and some yet to be born.
I couldn’t detach myself from the computer screen, still in shock that it was happening within 20 minutes drive from my flat, watching how body parts are being dragged out of homes. The news said: There were 8 body parts that made up one body. I switched off my Wi-Fi.
January 17, 2017.
The tragic news shook up all of us, all 5.2 million of our country. No one seemed to be ready for it. People, who have died were not even going anywhere they were peacefully sleeping. Now the questions were rising: why the plane fell? Why houses were so near the airport? Who is responsible? Some of us rushed to the scene of accident, some to hospitals, some started collecting clothes for those who survived but lost homes and property.
I was paralyzed. I could think of nothing, just body parts being dragged out of homes. When I saw a friend messaging about volunteering at the clothes drive I went immediately. There I found many other young people sorting the clothes; jackets, sweaters in one box, pants in another, shoes for children, shoes for adults. Somehow collective mourning was more bearable, we were all in it. And sorting these clothes for people, who survived made us feel less helpless.
January 18, 2017.
That day they showed him. A 7-year-old boy, named Jakshylyk. “Goodness” in Kyrgyz, parents name children so that their bring good things to family. He is a survivor, but he lost both his parents and his two little sisters in an accident. It’s a miracle that he lived.
Journalists were asking him questions: “Did he feel scared? What did he think? What they did the night before with a family?”
My heart shuttered into small parts. And not only mine. Some were asking how they can help this little boy, some how to adopt him and others attacking journalist for insensitivity. The journalist, who happened to be my university friend, was justifying his intentions to help a boy to get help from government.
January 19, 2017.
The mourning has ended officially, now people were angry. They were blaming the president, our city council, the Turkish airlines and some even the victims. The blaming comments were hateful, sexist and racist. Some girl online said that “Kyrgyz lost some children, well no big deal, they will make more in no time”, causing outrage and hateful messages towards herself.
January 20, 2017.
I was started to grow angry too: at this broken system; at geopolitical mess my country is in and at humanity. And then I re-read your story. And I wondered how did you manage? To persevere this capacity to love? How do you manage not to break your heart with all this loving? And to hope? I have so many questions to you and so much admiration...
January 23, 2017.
The number of dead reached 39 today. All that is left is love.