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Du er her: Skole > Living Rough

Living Rough

Livet til en mann fra Russland, som blir uteligger i Los Angeles.

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Thoughts about being a homeless.

Life is rough,

living on the street can be tuff.

People crying, people dying.

Nothings like it should.


Hi! My name is Mao. I’m a twenty years old Russian. The poem above is written by my brother Jerezy. He is one of my two older brothers. We all live on the streets in LA, but it hasn’t always been like this. Once we were a happy family, living in a beautiful village nearby the city Vladivostock, in south-east Russia. Suddenly things began to change. For one crazy reason the government in Russia decided to build a nuclear-factory right by our village. As you all know that’s a big risk, nuclear factories are both pollutant and dangerous. Unfortunately nobody dared to do anything, except my father. He couldn’t just stand still and watch the beautiful home he had built with his own bare hands, be destroyed for a nuclear-factory. So for weeks he were looking for arguments to make them stop the building.


One day when he came home, his eyes were grey and his face were grumbling. I understood he had found something very confidential. He didn’t tell us anything, except that this was dangerous stuff. I could see the fear in his eyes, and I felt with him. That night I didn’t fall asleep, because I knew something was going to happen. My senses didn’t fail. In the middle of the night I heard the door closing. I saw my father running out of the house, and bad feelings were bothering my heart. At this moment I didn’t know I may not see him anymore.


I went down to the living room to get some food, and on the table I found this note:

Beloved wife and children.

This may be my last words to you. As you know I can’t live another place than here, - this is my home. So tonight I’m going to stop the building of the factory, one way or another. This is very dangerous both for you and me,because the government don’t like snoopers. If I’m not back by tomorrow at twelve, I want you to pack your things and leave this rotten country. Here is no future for us. Good bye,, and see you later.

Your beloving husband and father.


I remember my eyes became wet, and my heart felt proud. When nobody tried, he tried. When nobody dared, he dared. My father was a hero, a real hero. For both his family and fellow villagers. Unfortunately things didn’t go as he had wished, the clock passed twelve and I hadn’t seen any sign of him. In pride I packed my things, and went down to the harbour with the rest of my family. I had only one aim, to bring them safely away from this rotten place. Down at the harbour there were no more than four ships leaving this day. One of them was called Cabaranezy. Cabaranezy was going to Chile with Russian-caviar. I saw we might have a chance for freedom, so we sneaked on board.


After a while the ship left the harbour, and our trip to freedom had begun. Crossing The Pacific Ocean wasn’t exactly a trip of joy, we had to hide under the ribs of caviar boxes. Breathing caviar all day, and smell like hell. Everything else went without any bigger problems, until we came to the coast of USA. It was after six days on the sea, when I heard a voice saying; “This is the American coastguard, we are only going to have a routine-check on your boat, please shut your engine.” No the trip was over, we had no chance to stay covered. They found us after only minutes, and brought us onto their boat. We pretended we didn’t speak English, because then they had to bring us onshore,e.g. to LA - “the city of possibilities”. There we were put in an ugly, smelling prison-cell until the Russian translator came. I was brought into an almost empty room, with only a table and two chairs. At this moment I felt lonely, and empty. Wondering if this trip really was a smart thing to do. The translator came into the room, it was a woman. Her body was beautiful, much to beautiful for her job. She was perfect, except for her attitude. Her first question was about us being terrorists, I got really shocked. How could anybody look at us as terrorists, what a shameful world we are living in. It took the beauty five hours to understand the fact that we were a peacefully family, just wanting to find a better place to live. When she had finished her questions, she went out of the room and stayed there for two hours. Those two hours felt like an eternity. All alone in an empty room, thousand of miles away from home. It was awful! When she finally came back, she said: “You are free to go, we don’t need you anymore”.

I got paralysed, and I didn’t knew what to do. “Get out! What are you waiting for?”, she yelled. I stacked my legs and got out of there in a hurry.


Outside the station I met my mother and my two brothers. My mothers warm and beautiful face combined with my two brothers strong bodies, made me feel good. I was no longer alone. Never in my entire life have I felt so good, but at the same time so helpless. Questions filled my mind: Where should we go? What should we do? Where can we get food? I had so many questions, and so few answers. The dark came quickly, and we still had no food. We could only hope for something like a miracle, and a miracle happened. Out of nowhere a man carrying a net full of empty bottles came toward us, and said: ”You seem lost my friends, can I help you”? Eh, we haven’t eaten since yesterday, some food wouldn’t harm, I said. “Oh, food isn’t always easy to find here. Just follow me, and I’ll get you some”. I felt we had no other possibility than to follow him, so off we went. On our way we saw things I never had thought existed. Girls standing outside the shops with almost no clothes on, smoking dope and looking pretty. Old men were sitting on each corner, dirty, unshaved and with their hands reaching out for help. I couldn’t believe that this was “the city of possibilities”. “Awful, isn’t it?”, the old man said. “These are the lost people of LA, they are trying to earn money in ways which destroys both their minds and bodies. Fools, that’s what they are! Follow me to the right here, and I’ll show a piece of this city almost nobody have seen”. I remember we turned right, and then left, before we came to a blind alley. The old man went straight on, until he touched the wall, then he stopped. “Come over here and put your hands on the wall, he said” “Why?”, I asked. “Just do it!” We put our hands on the wall, and nothing happened. “Now close your eyes, and say the words: potd wayf” We did as he told, and it felt like we were moving around. When I opened my eyes, I saw right into the same wall, but the feeling of freedom touched me. Behind me I could hear laughter and songs. “Here we are, in “the city of possibilities”, the old man said.


The sight was magnificent, we were no longer in the blind alley. We were standing in an open space, and around us homeless people were dancing, singing and laughing. I got “a burning feeling” inside me, like you are a part of something very special. Something bigger than yourself, something really good and fantastic. I turned to the old man and asked: “Where are we?”. “In a place for the future my friend, a place where humans are living in fellowship. Everybody helps each other, and age is no question. Hereall do things to strengthen the cohesion, and our life-rule is: One for all, and all for one. Now, go and get yourself some food and enjoy yourselves, because tomorrow it’s work to do”. I remember we were eating, dancing, and having a real good time. Then suddenly the old man stood up and said: “ Fellow homeless, let us gather around the fire and sing our song”. Everybody ran to the fireplace and made a big circle around the fire, and arm in arm we all sang the song: “Brothers in arms”, by Dire Straits.


After the singing it was time to go to bed, because tomorrow was a new day with new possibilities. Everybody went to “bed”, or should I call it their places on the street. 20th of December had been a day full of occurrences and not at least surprises. It really was a day which deserved a place in the history of Mao- the life of living rough. So that`s why I’m writing it all down, and what could be a better ending than the last part of the poem by my brother Jerezy:

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