“The pain is not, is true”: the caretaker of the “city of angels” in Beslan – tragedy 14 years later

In North Ossetia, in the town of Beslan is the “City of angels” – a cemetery, where are buried 266 of 334 hostages killed at the school on 3 September 2004. Any day, anytime here in a small hut, you can find the caretaker Kaspolat Ramonova. In black September, he brought the coffin of his daughter and could not return to life. His story “Pravmir” begins a series of articles about the Beslan 14 years later.

Kaspolat Ramonov

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  • Alena Scaeva. Beslan. 10 years
  • Beslan. Three days in hell and… life after hell
  • Beslan. Life after death
  • “We had no idea what to get into a branch of hell”

His children

Two hours ago, before you arrived, it was. Family – husband wife and small children. Young, up to 30 years, probably. Mother and her children have walked around, and then comes to me and asks: “what’s Here? We from the Urals arrived. What is it?” – further Kaspolat silent. He probably would, and ended the conversation. For him, this question is written as if all that words can say.

– What did you tell her? – I ask after a thick, heavy silence.

– Answered as is. Here the children from the first school. “When was that?” I said, “14 years ago”. “Yes? And that, children died?”

At such moments, the superintendent of the city of angels Campolato Ramonova is not something that is unpleasant or offensive. It is unbearably painful. He wants to ask people: why do you come here? Why are you here, among my children, go?

You all your children called?

– They’re all mine. And for me they are more alive than the rest of the world. From above all is visible. Where the “Tree of sorrow”, if you’re up there, there is a flower garden. It’s a grave. Buried there, the fragments that remain unidentified in a laboratory in Rostov. In one grave we buried them.

Sometimes, perfect weather, the leaves do not stir on the trees, and from this place comes the wind, as the tornado spun, wreaths, flowers, vases – everything that is on the road, raised in the air, reaches the border of the old cemetery, where all the drops and disappears. I have seen many times. And the priests asked, and local elders, and Muslims – can’t explain what it would mean.

The guys that work for me, someone cleans, guards and so on, the night is sure someone is now, they begin to work and after a day or two: “sorry, we can’t. Night hear children’s voices”.

In childhood we each other frightened: who is the most courageous who dare the night to go to the cemetery. Of course, everyone was afraid. And here even small children come. Not scary. Here is a very positive energy, very.

– Kaspolat, and how you decided to remain the caretaker here? It’s your personal initiative.

I honestly don’t remember. Just left. The first time I do not remember. Now I told the guys that used me snow, and I sit. I don’t remember this at all.

There can not be anyone

When on 1 September 2004 in the yard of the Beslan school №1 the first shots were fired and the terrorists herded the hostages to the gym, Kaspolat Ramonov wore shoes in the hallway to go to work in the customs service – the dream of every Ossetian the beginning of the two thousandth, and, to be honest, our days.

A gun, he would not have confused this sound with any other, but who had the idea to shoot a day in the morning? Ran out to the balcony quietly. Went back to the house, took a shovel for shoes – again shooting. Rushed to the other side, to the loggia, nothing. Almost calmed down, went into the hallway a second time, and then there is silence on Beslan, over Ossetia over the world completely tore gunfire.

Kaspolat ran to school. Like all parents, he wanted to be close to his children, but not in time – the doors of the gym has already closed behind the last hostage, Alloy Shabanovoj mother Amina and Sanity. She heard the shots, but ran to school faster, because he lives very close, School lane.

Or kill, or let me in there, my kids are there she cried the terrorist.

– There can be everything, from there – to anybody, – he growled.

Kaspolat stood in front of the fence of the school, in terror, like everybody else, did not know what to do with myself, what to do, and didn’t yet know that a few hours of his youngest daughter Diana, for great joy will be able to escape that his wife Alla and son Irbek spend in the gym without food and water for three endless days, and then leave, their family will collapse.

He did not know in those first few minutes and the worst is the eldest, his favorite daughter Marianne will remain in that stuffy gym forever.


– I brought home in the evenings for two package products – the next day everything was gone – says Kaspolat sitting in his shed. – Marianne dragged everything into the street – children, cats, dogs. This was good. If someone is buying her candy, she will not eat unless I get a offer until I say that you don’t want. So good. Sometimes, I would come home late. She never slept, I waited. I come quietly in prihozhke shoes off. – Dad, is that you? – Yes, sleep. – In a minute she’s asleep, but I waited.

One summer here grasshopper throughout the hovered-hovered, and then settled at Marianne’s nursery. Someone a little kitten threw, the kitten went-went in the territory, then to Marianne’s flower garden climbed up, lay down to sleep there. The puppy came – about Marianne slept. Perhaps even an animal, even a grasshopper feels its goodness.

Black and white life

In the Lodge Kaspolat Ramonova anything extra: Desk with computer, a few chairs, a water boiler, an electric kettle, a set of cups for the guests. To him, sometimes, even Ministers go, but Kaspolat does not divide people by occupation, regalia, nationality and religion. For it is only normal and abnormal people, and for 14 years there to distinguish one from the other he seems to have learned.

– If the person is unpleasant to me, if I know it’s a bad person, I don’t want him to even say Hello. He is giving me to lend a hand, and I tell him: “What? Who are you?” and don’t file an answer. We have in South Ossetia is not accepted, but I’m the kind of person, explains Kaspolat.

Through the open wide window visible from the lane leading to the airport and back to Beslan. It occasionally passing cars. Around so quietly that it is audible, as from a hose on the lawn and running water. On the wall in my office hangs a photograph of 15-year-old Marianne in school uniform, and on the screen of the computer – photo “little bandhani” four – year old daughter Ramonova from the second marriage. Kaspolat says that it is very similar to Marianne, the same kind.

On the table in a glass beaker lit Church candle. When left alone by her only wax BLOB, the inspector will put a new one. When the wax on the bottom of the glass typed too much, he will clean it and return to the table. How many candles lit and varied for fourteen years, do not count. Almost every day someone from 266 people buried here birthday. Then Kaspolat lights a candle on the grave. He doesn’t like “City of angels” called the cemetery. For it is a Holy place.

– People are different. Is that girl from the Urals, but there are others – continues to the caretaker. – Come from around the world come and say: “We arrived in Ossetia, in Beslan not by works, not on a business trip, not a vacation, but arrived in the “City of angels”. Someone goes to Jerusalem, to the Vatican in the Holy places, and here we come, for us it is the most Holy place”.

– You are at school, in the gym?

– Rare.

It was plenty of controversy about how to store it, whether to demolish, whether to build in its place a temple. You have to this account what is your opinion?

– A few years ago began to remove the Windows in the school, and I told the workers: “do Not touch”. Someone from the leadership came – I don’t remember who it was – he says it’s the experts that have preserved Auschwitz, they make out, then will collect, preserve school in the form in which it was after the assault. The window was removed, and where for several years? Where is all of Delhi? The empty eye sockets.

What has kept the same Auschwitz? The Brest fortress? Pavlov’s house and so on? So the people saw and knew what it was. To never it does not happen again. Now this girl asks me: “what is it? What happened here?” suddenly the story Kaspolat is cut off, drowning in the music, which in comparison with the cemetery silence seems so loud.

If you ever get into Ossetia, and get to the airport by taxi, passing the “City of angels”, your driver will probably clean up the sound to almost zero or completely turn it off – it’s an unwritten rule in the Republic they know everything. Therefore, when the open window to the guardhouse burst of incendiary music, Kaspolat changed countenance, and paused for a long time.

This scum doesn’t know where it goes? Here’s an example of how people are different. Other, normal, pass, stop, the car will come, with his head down a moment to stand up and go on. Life is black and white. If all people were good, these kids wouldn’t be here.

Where Batik, why not run to meet

Campolato Ramonova a little over 50. His eyes are tired, hoarse quiet voice, so quiet that his words have to listen, scar across his neck after serious surgery. 14 years ago he was collector of customs, in parallel was engaged in business, could not and did not like to rest, because 24 hours a day was not enough.

All this rich cases, the meaning of love life 1 September 2004 erased like an eraser, and she became like a blank sheet off-white color, as a rare southern snow in the fresh cemetery. He brought to his Marianne was not able to return home, on the street, in your yard, in Beslan, in life.

As where to return to? In the yard, where he lived Kaspolat, two five-story buildings – one of them, and in another at the first entrance, lived Adyrkhaeva. They have a boy, three years old, albert, and home Batik. This Golden child was a small sun. Let him hear the song in French – not in English, not Russian, not Ossetian, namely in French, was the language – Betic repeat word for word, so it was sensible. Every morning he waited for Kaspolat come out of the house to work, ran to meet him, grabbed his hand, together they walked to the garage, the car did a lap of honour around the yard, and then Kaspolat gave Baetica trifle for sweets. In the last such morning, August 30, 2004, Batik ran to mom saying, “Look how much money he gave me!”, but didn’t finish, and turned towards the store. September 1, the mother took albert on the line to older children.

Kaspolat’t remember how long he had lived in Beslan after the school day, a year, two, three. But all the time he went out in the morning from the entrance and looked about for little of betika where he is, why not run forward?

– I’m afraid for people to walk. In Beslan, I leave only when necessary. As once one of my colleagues said, “He’s good, he’s very good, but if you say “he’s very ill” – it means nothing to say”. I can’t look at injustice. Someone just threw a piece of paper – for me it’s not normal, not to mention the rest. I see someone threw a piece of paper, ten times I ask politely, culturally, “Please, this is not good, it’s wrong.” When you don’t know, can be very hard to do.

– A lot of injustice in Beslan and all around?

Very. How to say… none of My business the edge – all live by this principle. When you see something wrong, they place this simply bypass or silent, that’s our trouble. No one makes comments – and suddenly I will answer rudely, why do I need it? This is our downfall.

For 14 years people have changed, the attitude changed in South Ossetia to the tragedy?

– Some Yes. How can I explain this… After school like the brains of people played, especially in Beslan. I was born and raised in the village of Bergsang, and moved here 25 years ago, because better people were not available anywhere else. The kindest, most decent people were in Beslan. After school, after 2004, became Vice versa. I don’t know that they changed money, these kinds of aid, benefits and so on. I don’t know. But the good people there are few in Beslan.

The attitude of the other population of the Republic to Beslan, probably, heard: here, money there, then-se. Yes, there is but one size fits all cut is not necessary. About myself – Kaspolat picks up the folded triangle of paper towel – do not even think, although in Beslan came not machines, not cars, and trains humanitarian aid. A large part of the plundered, know all about it. The money came from the billions. I rouble is not taken. The so-called victims were given apartments and one and two and three flats someone got. Not one meter or one centimeter I did not take.

Different people

The superintendent of the city of angels Affairs is not less than the customs officer, so that to work from morning till night, and 24 hours a day. On the monuments break the stones – it is necessary to change the tile colors set, it’s time to clean up and to wipe. Hamsters again. Will not follow – will dig burrows and carry flowers. A lot of damage from forty to no end stain monuments. Or that’s habit – remember, and pour it over the flowers of sweet water. People don’t think then at that place you get ants, and a plentitude of flower beds to bring the ants – the whole affair.

Kaspolat knows in the city, every flower, every twig. When he talks about someone specific – Smirnov sisters 15 and 16 years, who lived in the village of Peace in Chechnya after the war began, their family captured, miraculously released, and they fled to the peace Beslan; or Kosovoy about Angela: she and her parents moved to Moscow, but I really missed the old school, that summer, as usual, were on vacation at grandma and asked her to go on line to see my friends, when Kaspolat talks about them, he always adds: “to the left of the “tree of sorrow” on the first row, third grave” or “grave on the right, second row, in the center, in front of the path”. He knows the history of everyone who is buried here, and everyone who comes here to mourn. Even if the visitor comes from the other side of the cemetery, 200 meters from the Lodge, he understands the gait of a stranger this man or his parents.

They, the parents, says Kaspolat, different, like all people. There are those who come here every day who comes a few times a month, and there are many. There are those who come here only during days of mourning. And there are others who are here not come. They are small, but they are. For the graves of their children Kaspolat caring for himself. “These are all mine” – many times he repeats.

You say, rarely in the city, it turns out, you’re better than people?

– So, Yes. However, and here I get every day, really bring. Some, sorry, arrives, stops, goes: “where is the bathroom?” Adult, bow tie man. I said, “Where have you come?” He says, “what’s wrong? Why is there no toilet?” I look at him, say: “You where come?” He: “Why are you talking to me like that?” I said, “get in the car, leave, please.” He begins: “What don’t you like? Who are you? When Affairs there is no toilet?” As such people treated? – Kaspolat as if waiting for a response, but without waiting, continued:

– I say, people are different. Anything can happen: good and bad. Earlier many people arrived, starting with the envelope to the bag with money: “We want to help.” I said, “that penny will never take. If the ruble ever take, I wouldn’t be me. I have a list of those wounded children, left the children with disabilities. Here you have a list, want, random, want by name, named, click, here you, go and specifically someone to help, but I ruble will never take”.

– You probably asked yourself the question why you are here. How do you explain this?

– It let the people somehow to explain, and I don’t know.

I don’t owe anyone anything, but only my poor children I have. Some of them only want me.

Here is a woman – Kaspolat shows through the window at a woman in mourning. Her mother died, she went to ask the caretaker allowed them to drive through the cemetery to the old. She had a baby boy here. One winter the snow fell, it’s ten years ago, maybe less. Her neighbor, she has a child here, calling this one which went: “let’s go clean up”. This she said, “What do I have to do more Nehru? Casper there, let him…” call Me Casper, you know?

– No.

“Casper’s in there, even if he removes”. These people are different. Other parents – the snow fell, they early in the morning here, going to clean up.

– In life the most important thing, do you think?

For someone like, but for me, I’m from the mountains, to live by honor, conscience. But to live without honor and without conscience… I cite the example of his father and uncle, they lived a life, bad about them no one will say. And now a few people with such concepts now for many God is Finance, money. But I always say, still a lot of good people more than bad.

Kaspolat Ramonov learned over the years many human lives, actions, tears, pain and stupidity, cowardice and courage that could write a whole book. It would be that everyone is different. He saw the mother, who voluntarily went to the school for their children and the third of September took them alive; you see the father who left the school of his little son, escaped and lives, and the child stayed there forever; he knew the teacher who stood at the window kneel down to the children on her back was out of the gym, so many saved, and she died; he also knows another teacher who in his summary says that it regularly cleans the memorial complex, although Kaspolat for 14 years never seen her in the cemetery; he spoke with the distraught women, dissuaded them from committing suicide, because it means that there they never meet with their children, and for them it is the worst; he saw people getting out of trunks armfuls of flowers, went weeping, put flowers on each grave and with tears left; he had seen many tears, but can not bear cry only one person in the world – Felix Totiev. Buried here are six of his grandchildren, all children of both his sons. When Felix comes to the cemetery and silently, leaning on a stick, sitting in front of six graves, Kaspolat gets blue “Niva” and went as far as possible.

– The pain persists, it’s not true, says the caretaker. And grief does not change people. Do not forget me that look. I need to write that: grief does not change people.

In Vladikavkaz we return by taxi. Our driver, gray Ossetians with large work-worn hands, complains that the road on which we drive, repair for three months, that gasoline was quite expensive and wondered what we were doing in the “City of angels”.

– Kaspolat? Yeah, he’s always there.

– And you from Beslan? Remember those days?

– How not remember? Here remember everything. I then worked on the bus, we were all there, waiting at any moment were ready to go wherever necessary to carry one. The city lived in these days, was waiting.

– You had someone in school?

– The daughter of my cousin. They could not identify her. Everything was burnt. The girl found out the button holes on the dress and the earring – one earring she has.

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