Never In My Wildest Dreams

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By Moksalaksmi dasi

In my wildest dreams it never occurred to me that I would spend Ramanavami practically on a battlefield but that’s how the day panned out. Accompanying my husband, Parasurama Das, we had already driven through seven countries in our round-about route to reach Ukraine. Ramanavami found me awakening in the Black Sea resort of Odessa. The previous day was spent with the wonderful devotees there visiting their prasadam distribution points, giving out prasadam and giving a class on my experiences with Srila Prabhupada. It was a great day meeting these dedicated devotees and visiting their free prasadam restaurant but now we were off to Kherson. In Odessa the devotees told me only two buildings had been destroyed by bombs but in Kherson the bombing continued daily. This was more than obvious on the road to Kherson when we passed an area where not a single house had an intact roof. All were destroyed. Repairs had begun and some of the houses had new roofs, patriotically repaired with tiles coloured the blue of the Ukrainian flag.

We also passed destroyed Russian tanks and other vehicles. It made me sad to think of the tears being shed by the Russian mothers and wives as well as the Ukrainian women who have lost their loved ones in this war. I questioned if there are any winners in war outside of the armament manufacturers. Surprisingly, it also made me think of my own Ukrainian babushka who I never met and the tears she must have shed for my father, her child, who she never saw again after he left his home during the Second World War.

The pradadam distribution had already started when we arrived in Kherson and it was very satisfying to see the long lines of mainly older people queuing for steaming hot borscht and halava. A kirtan was in full swing adding to the ambience of the scene. We accompanied the devotees to several Prasad distribution points including a school that was forced to close due a bomb blowing out all of the windows. It was here I first heard the bombs in the background. The brave devotees did not even flinch at this unwelcome intrusion on our seemingly peaceful day. ‘Outgoing’, they insisted. Meaning those bombs were heading in the opposite direction.

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