At his almost 90, this kind and good person, a real Georgian man, can no longer hold back his tears. They flow down his wrinkled cheeks.
“I went blind, with cataracts in one eye and glaucoma in the other. If I am operated on, I will see again. I need to see! I can hit the wall a hundred of times or trip and fall before I reach the toilet... I want to see. You may say that it is better not to see all this, because I live like a vagabond... But you know, no matter how unhappy you are, you cling to life. "
He remembers the location of things in a small room by heart and moves almost by feel, clinging to a chair, a table, and has to go out, because there are no amenities in his little house. One of his eyes is glazed, the other is watery. In a room where you can hardly fit, bags and empty boxes are piled up.
Dried chilies hang on the wall, as if hoping for a better future.
The old man talks about his life, sighing bitterly, since he has a lot to remember! Listening to him, I want to immediately hug him, comfort and help this amazing person, who does not take offense at anyone and does not blame anyone. Can anyone behave like that when there is a severe life behind him, and his current state is bitter and hard?
The main thing for him now is to see again, he really wants it. He needs an operation that is to be paid for. Part of the cost will be covered by the state, and he has to cover the other part himself. But where can he get this money? All his life the man worked in the sweat of his brow, but it turns out that he did not earn enough money for an operation!!!
After talking about the most serious of his problems – his vision - , batoni Giorgi sighs and adds:
- There is also water flowing from the roof, there is water in the room all the time, there is no heating, I only have an electric heater. I bask the whole day by it.
- And, as I see, you have amenities in the yard, so you have to go outside day and night ... Your roof also needs fixing and insulating, it’s impossible to live in such a damp house.
- Well, when I moved here from Sukhumi, there were only these two rooms in a house made of lime. It's not so cold yet, but winter is coming. I don't know how I can handle it. I only have an old refrigerator, from the Soviet times, which works very badly.
- Is there any chance that your eyesight will return after the operation?
- I am not sure that I will see well, perhaps, just a little, to distinguish objects, to see silhouettes of people, so that I can move ... - the old man repeats, and his voice breaks.
- You were born in Khashuri ... What do you remember from your childhood? What was it like?
- Eh-eh! I had a very bad childhood. We lived very poorly. What kind of childhood could it be for a starving boy... It was hard. Then the war began [World War II]. I was born in 1931 ... My parents were very poor people. There were seven of us. Now there is no one left, no one. I'm quite alone.
- Do your siblings have children, relatives?
- Yes, they do. But there is no one here.
- Do you maintain relationship with them?
- No, unfortunately, not.
- How did you live then, during the Second World War?
- My father was taken to the army. He returned from the front completely sick and died very soon. We were left without a breadwinner. Mother worked as hard as she could. There were not many jobs during the war. Sometimes I did not eat anything for three days ...
Batoni Giorgi's speech is interrupted again, he cries. And it is clear that he cries not only because of the bitter memories, but also because of the present day, when he is still so unhappy and lonely. As if nothing has changed since then.
- My soul hurts, you know, it hurts a lot, - says the old man holding back his tears, the man who has lived a difficult life, who worked non-stop, and in the declension of years is left with nothing.
- Batono Giorgi, dear, I am sure that now they will help you, and you will still have bright moments and joyful days in your life, so that you won’t have to cry anymore. It will definitely get easier. So you have lived in poverty all the time?
- Yes, all the time. When I grew up, I graduated from college and became an engine driver. I was assigned to Sukhumi, and I worked there for long years. From 1958 until the very war [Georgian-Abkhazian war of 1993]. In 1991 ... No, in 1989 Abkhazians shot fire at my electric locomotive at the Novy Afon station.
- How did it happen? Were you transporting anyone to Tbilisi?
- No, we did not reach Tbilisi. Our section was Sukhumi - Samtredia. Then, not long before the war, there had been commotions there. It was still the Soviet Union, we had a strike, and a minister from Moscow came. He came from Adler by car. When he got to our locomotive shed, there were very few of us there – just to be counted on the fingers of one hand. I had an assignment from my higher-ups - to bring a children's train from Adler to Gudauta. There were children from Perm. I drove my electric locomotive to bring the train. I passed one tunnel, the second one ... And when I drove out of the third tunnel, I saw that they put rails across the working rails. They were Abkhazians, they laid 25-meter rails. Of course, I could not slow down, I drove over and continued to go, dragging those rails ... There was such a terrible sound, a grinding sound!
- You miraculously escaped death!
- Yes, the electric locomotive is a heavy machine, it did not rise and turn over, as they expected. Then those rails flew aside, the road was cleared, and I decided to continue my way. Soon I drove up to the Armenian Gorge, some people came out (Armenians mostly those who lived there - I worked there for a long time, they knew me by sight), and told me to stop. I stopped. They warned me against going any further, since I might be killed there. There were other engine drivers from Belorechensk together with me, who were going home. They couldn’t wait to get home. But I had to turn back. When I was coming back, at Novy Afon station they started shooting at me, at my electric locomotive. I lay down on the floor. The machine guns, of course, damaged some of the metal. As soon as the shooting stopped, I checked if the machine was in working order, and it turned out that somehow it worked. So, I returned to Sukhumi. I came to the chief, he was an Abkhazian, and told him what had happened and how. And he said: "You must have been transporting weapons." Well, then we made up. And I went to Adler again for the train. We came back with 10 wagons and were stopped at Gantiadi station. They didn’t let me go further to Sukhumi. I had to stay. I saw how Abkhazians played football at the station with the severed head of a Georgian. They cut off the heads of the Georgians and played football. I saw it all with my own eyes. They didn’t let me go any further, because there was centralized dispatching, and if they hadn’t allowed it, nothing could have been done on the spot. I stayed there until evening. I asked to let me go back to Adler.
-Was it scary?
- Yes, of course. Not just scary, but dreadful. It’s difficult to express my feelings ... We didn't do anything bad there, and suddenly you see those sickening thing ...
- You had a family in Sukhumi ...
- Yes. I was married twice. I have no children of my own. I raised the children of my second wife as if they were mine. Two sons and daughters. They grew up, I gave them education. Then it so happened that I left, and they decided to stay.
- Where are they now?
- The boys are in Sochi, and the girls stayed in Sukhumi.
- Do you have any relationship with them? Did they try to contact you?Do you know how they are doing?
- I know nothing, unfortunately, nothing. I have no phone, and you can’t send letters to Abkhazia, as you know.
- How did you become a refugee and found yourself in Tbilisi?
- By car. I asked the dispatcher for permission, took my electric locomotive to Adler, to the shed, and left it there. I no longer worked as a machinist, but I still kept working in this business. We had to take another train to Samtredia, but in Ochamchira they stopped us and said that the bridge had been blown up. There was such a commander, Kobalia by name. And he deceived us, as it turned out later. They did not allow us to go further. We transported people as far as we could. When I came to Tbilisi, they gave me a barrack in a carriage shed. I worked as an assistant engine driver for a long time. I could have worked more, but my nerves failed, my age and health did not allow me to continue ... I retired from work in 2005.
- How did it happen that you were given this barrack then, and you still live here?
- I came here late, and there was no accommodation facilities left anywhere. Everything had been already taken, everyone was working. And I thought:Well, what can I do? I'll live here. Anyway, it’s better than nothing.
- Has anybody helped you? Have you tried to address the governmental authorities for help, to change such dire conditions?
- Oh, my dear, I don't even get social allowance. They don’t give it to me.
- Why?! Have you addressed the Ministry of Refugees?
- Of course I did! I used to get it before, in Saakashvili time. But then they suddenly stopped giving it to me. In 2015. They didn't explain anything, they just stopped giving it. I get a refugee allowance. Do you know how much? 45 GEL. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing.
- I know that you have problems with your heart and blood pressure. What medications do you take?
- I take atenolol and cardiomagnyl. I have to take some other medicines too. And drip eye drops. But I can’t buy everything I need.
- Batono Giorgi, do you remember the time in your life when you were most happy?
- Probably, somewhere in the 70s, until 1989, I used to live well, normally. But, I did not have any apartment of my own. I began to write complaints, demanding an apartment. I had an Abkhazian friend, who had no apartment either, so we went together to Tbilisi to complain. Their answer was that I would be given a flat, when the time comes, and after that they expelled me from the party. (Smiles.) One can say, that in general, I used to live quite well until 1989 - compared to the rest of my life. I had a family, work and friends...
- Do you have a most bitter memory, looking back at your life?
- Oh, I can’t remember all bitter things now – there were lots of them! It hurts so much ... (Cries.)
- Please, don't cry. We will help you, there are good people in the world. You have such a beautiful smile, you are so kind that good luck will return to you. You have seen and experienced a lot. What would you wish your Motherland - Georgia?
- Eh ... So that people do not suffer, so that people would live well!I wish it so much!I am a little man, what can I do, what can I say? I can do nothing, just get used to it. You are like a daughter to me. What can I say? Do you see what's going on now? There were elections, people won, but the government refuses to accept it.
- Have you personally had more good or bad things in your life? What kind of people did you come across to?
- Of course, I saw more hardship and grief than a good things. There are both good and bad people around us. We can say we are all the same. But the only thing I want and pray for is: may God help everyone.
- What personal quality do you value most?
- I really love honest people. There is nothing better than being honest. I have never cheated and will always help others as much as I can. I used to do so and will do in the future. This is my concept of life.
Batoni Giorgi’s 60-year-old neighbor used to look after him, she took him to the doctor, looked after him, cooked food. But she is in hospital now, and there is another woman who takes the old man to the clinic for examinations. Because of the pandemic and almost complete blindness the use of any public transport is out of question, that’s why she takes him by taxi paying out of pocket, which is, actually, beyond her means. And there is no guarantee that she will continue to look after him in the future and pay for the feeble old man. Transportation, medications, surgery, food, necessary household items cost money. And his pension is 250 GEL plus a refugee allowance of 45 GEL (just about 92 dollars total)! How can a nearly 90-year-old man, who so urgently needs help, live on this amount?!
His neighbor Koba comes up to us, he also wants to help being a fan of batoni Giorgi. They share the same yard, and therefore Koba's phone is the only connection to the world for Giorgi Tomadze.
- There are office buildings here, - says Koba, - this is a carriage shed area, where refugees live. Giorgi's house leaks. He built the roof by himself. Everything is built of plywood. The space width between these buildings is about two meters. And he built a dwelling between the two buildings. Such a plywood house. There is lime inside the rooms, with just a plywood roof on the top. He definitely needs to be operated on. The state covers 70 percent, and the rest 30 percent must be paid by himself. Where can he get these money? He is a very kind person, he helped everyone when he had more strength. And now he needs help. How can he live like this when he sees almost nothing?! I'm very sorry for him ...
Friends, let’s help this person to regain his eyesight, which means that he will see the world again, so that, when he opens his eyes, he will see a much better life around him, brighter, warmer and more joyful than it used to be.
Batoni Giorgi will be very happy to welcome guests. Come to his place, give him your warmth, and he will warm you with his kindness.
Giorgi Tomadze's address:Tbilisi, metro station "Gotsiridze", former metro station "Elektrodepo". There is a territory for the carriage sheds. 22A Zestaponi Str. Phone of his neighbor Koba Lomidze:577 01 33 88.
We should not remain indifferent to the troubles of this old man, we will show our mercy and care, all together we will help him however we can, showing him all our love and mercy! Unfortunately, no one is immune to loneliness and sickness.
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