|Photo book by Tomasz Kizny|
Dokhodiaga (or dakhodyaga) is a frightening term and relevant not only to the dying in a faraway gulag camp somewhere in Stalin’s era. It can apply to society in present-day Canada, too. I’ve seen dokhodyagas in the last week here in Winnipeg.
A couple of them were sitting in the pretty dining room at the care centre where one of my dear friends is living out her life with a rapidly soul-sucking dementia. It’s sucking my soul … she, hopefully, is blissfully unaware of her new world of institutionalized personal care, surrounded by goners who yowl with imaginary pain or fold the same napkin over and over, humming off-key.
|Souvenir Gulag Spoons: Aren't they pretty|
& rather insulting?
The goners. Without hope, maybe we’d all be goners. Like those in the gulag camps who could no longer work and then wouldn’t get food and who then got weaker and still couldn’t work and gradually disappeared—like our street people, our dokhodyagas. Here, in Canada.
Dare I try a Russian gulag bread? Somehow, I don’t think we could ever appreciate how it tastes. We’re not hungry enough.