Humor during wartime (2022 version)
My Ukrainian grandpa makes a joke and for a moment all is okay
I'm on the phone with my grandpa Alik.
Today is the three year anniversary of his wife, my grandma Emma, passing away. We avoid the topic itself - what is there to say? - and instead discuss the little nothings - weather (cold), how he's feeling (fine. always fine), and a new topic: why there are so many birds chirping in my Los Angeles backyard.
"Tvoyu mat" he says in Russian, which translates literally to "your mom" but more so means "oh my god," and also, upon research, is a key part of one of the four main swear words in our native tongue.
"He's got birds chirping and I'm freezing in Milwaukee," he growls.
I laugh and say "what do you want me to do, ask the birds to stop?"
"No," he says. "It’s pretty."
A second of silence, then he asks, "You gonna go to Odessa today?"
I respond, "No, not today. Tomorrow maybe."
We laugh without laughing.
Maybe Odessa IS the humo…
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