Mortula Gagishvili, 71, Rustavi Retirement Home

“My official name is Mortula, but everyone calls me Gulo… My dad gave me the name.

I am originally from Samachablo, the village of Akhmaji. The village is right at the border and Russian troops used to be deployed at three locations, but now only one military unit has remained. I wish they left soon so that I can return home. My house was demolished but still… It is hard for my physically to leave the place where my father and grandfather lived, or else I would set off right now.

I worked in Rustavi Azot Plant for 20 years and then I went back to the village. As we had a countryside house, my husband and I decided to return there. You know what happened afterwards – the August war… and on March 6, my husband died. I was left alone, with only grandchildren. I was through many hardships, but today I am here, doing all right.

I had to move to Rustavi because I had many close people here. Currently, I am living in a retirement home. My children and grandchildren live in France and I moved here two years ago to avoid loneliness. I am quite happy here.

I miss my home though. I have worked so hard and suffered… and for what? It is abandoned… All those who lived there have left. They all scattered… Right now, my brother-in-law lives there and it is relatively peaceful, however when the Russians entered, life was hard; my grandchildren would tell me: “Granny we’ll take something to them”… They would pick apples, potatoes and took them to the soldiers. They would then salute children by raising hands.

My child was 42 years old when he/she died of hemorrhage. We could not save him/her. I even sold my house, everything I had, but still couldn’t do anything about it. All was in vain… Now I live and he/she is buried in the ground. What is there to do? Life is a staircase they say and it is true. I had to put up with it and, little by little, I did.

The life I had and the way I lived was great, but… but my life was not in vain, not at all.”