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Georgia on My Mind

New America Media, Commentary, Ekaterina Basilaia Posted: Aug 18, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ever since Russia declared war on Georgia last week, I have been filled with fear, confusion, pain and despair.

I have been in the U.S. for almost a year now, doing a graduate program in mass communications at San Jose State. This is the first time I have been away from my parents, for that matter, away from my country, for such an extended period of time.

Whenever I feel homesick, I try to cheer myself up with the thought that it will all be over soon and I will go back home to Tbilisi, where my parents live. Only now I started to realize how important it is to know that there is a place somewhere called home. I felt compassion for refugees all over the world, the compassion that I have never felt it before, as I at least for a day or two, I had to go through what they have been suffering for number of years.

But now I am filled with misgivings. Will Tbilisi be there for me to go back to? CNN brings the fighting between Russian forces and Georgians to my living room almost 24/7. Smoking buildings, the sound of gunfire, people fleeing. Two of my former university friends have been killed in the bombings and one lies badly injured in a hospital. They chose to go to the war front, but I wish they hadnt.

Will the agreement brokered by France to pull back troops to the positions they had before the fighting broke out really hold? I shudder to think what will happen if the separatist communities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia ends up permanently annexed by Russia. It would mean the failure for the Georgian people, failure that they couldnt maintain the territorial integrity of their country. It would mean removing some of the parts from the body. And having those breakaway republics is already a blemish on every Georgians heart.

Amid the ferocious battle throughout the country, Tbilisi officials urged residents to flee the city. But where could my parents go? Tbilisi has been home to them for as long as theyve lived. Thats where my late brother and I were born and raised. Its a beautiful city, famous for its Sulphur springs. How dare Prime Minster Putin say that he will wipe out my country!

I have been constantly calling my mom and dad because I am worried sick that something might happen to them. I want so very much to be there with them. Its my turn to shield them now, like they did me back in 1992 when a fierce fight broke out in Georgia as the Soviet Union was breaking up. I was very young then, but I still remember.

Ekaterina Basilaia is an intern at New America Media.

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