Aleksandr Podrabinek: Five opinions on ‘Traitors’

3 May 2024

by Aleksandr Podrabinek

Source: Facebook

They met late at night in a bar.

‘It’s very cool!’ the Youth gasped with delight. ‘Pevchikh so rigorously and conclusively proved that two times two is four, that now all these swindlers who have been lying to us for 30 years – saying that two times two is an unknown amount – just can’t weasel their way out. Way to show them, Masha! We, the new generation, are grateful to you, Masha, for opening our eyes to our treacherous past.’

‘It would be better if you had studied the multiplication tables in school,’ the Witness objected. ‘What else is new? Even back in Soviet times we knew that two times two was four, but to speak about this aloud was not permitted – they could put you in jail. Only in whispers, in the kitchen. In the newspaper Pravda it was written then that two times two would be five, and at party meetings it was said in great secrecy that it would be six or even seven. And everyone agreed. But what is there to do?’

‘Pevchikh spoke the truth, of course, but not all of it,’ the Know-It-All joined the argument. ‘Just imagine, a gang attacked the village, all the men were killed, all the women raped, all the children kidnapped, all the most valuable things taken away, and the rest burned. And then, in the wake of the attack, after some time, blogger Masha arrives in the village and writes such a report based on the stories of the survivors. ‘A band of unsavoury robbers, led by the Official, ransacked the village, plunging the settlement’s economy into crisis for a long time, and its inhabitants into poverty. It is absolutely outrageous that not everyone was robbed equally. And the most disgraceful thing is that the robbers also deceived one another, and the Official watched such injustice through his fingers. I’m ashamed of such an Official! We don’t need such an Official!’’

‘You understand a great deal!’ the Stranger, who had been silent up until then, muttered from the corner. ‘I was there, I know. Yes, not everything went smoothly – some places we mistakenly took too much, and some not enough. We did not yet have experience with such raids. Do you think you would have done better? Well go on, try, what you squeeze out of it will be yours. And you, just criticizing the master. Amateurs!’

‘You shouldn’t be arguing,’ a young man with a face effaced beyond recognition quietly remarked. ‘What difference does it make, whether it’s all true or not? What difference does it make who made what kind of mistakes in their lives? It doesn’t matter who planned this raid and who oversaw the bandits. And even the number of deaths is not very important. What is important is that the report was seen by five million people, and very few manage this. The author can now lay claim to good grants, and, with luck, getting into power. Well, if not today, then tomorrow. In brief – well done!’

The five men could have argued about the events of the recent past until morning. But there was one small issue: the bar was located on the upper deck of a ship, and the ship, in the meantime, was going down. The five men, caught up in the argument, did not notice this. The water had already flooded the lower decks, and there was no way for the five gentlemen to argue over this interesting topic until morning.

Translated by Alyssa Rider