I have no idea how Rafeyenko managed to switch so completely into Ukrainian after the age of 45. He’s from Donetsk, which hasn’t been Ukrainian-speaking in two generations. He speaks like a native speaker. What’s more stunning, he writes works of literature in Ukrainian.
Rafeyenko says that hearing Russian in the street or on TV is physically painful. Hating your mother tongue – literally, the language your mother spoke to you in infancy – is a wound that doesn’t heal. Rafeyenko lived under occupation. After escaping, he settled in Bucha. Then he saw what Russians did to Bucha. I can’t begin to imagine how that must feel.
I’ve been listening to the talk in my office, and now I’ve blown up like a balloon after crying for 1,5 hours.
One thought on “Mother Tongue”
“I have no idea how Rafeyenko managed to switch so completely into Ukrainian after the age of 45.”
But you do, Clarissa. You explain it a few lines later: it’s called trauma.