“To escape the firing squad, Gulag prisoners would get the portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin tattooed on their chest. Who would have dared shoot at one of Socialism’s heroes? Gennadi Vassilievich had done his military service in the ’50s. He had traveled all the way to the Chinese border under Stalin’s order. After the collapse of Socialist ideology, Gennadi added a cross.
On the Russian bank of the Amur River, I observed him, staggering along, lost and dressed in rags. Through his half-opened shirt, I saw his tattoo. I came near him and greeted him. I detected fear in his eyes. I introduced myself and asked his name. With difficulty, as though he were scouring his memory, he announced, ‘Gennadi Vassilievich,’ and started to weep. Then he apologized. “You know, nobody has asked me my name in ten years. Nobody. Ever since the day I was thrown out of the plant where I worked, out of the house I lived in. I have roamed the streets for ten years.’”—Reza
Wow. .. I can’t imagine how that must feel.