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I can still

I can still poison a well, release rabid squirrels on an enemy, put on my gas mask in two seconds.

I can start an installation filled with lethal gases, distinguish (by sight and by smell) adamsite from phosgene, mustard gas from soman, CS gas and chloropicrin. I know all sorts of “characteristics”, “decisive factors” and “means”.

I can do without sleep for three days, or wake up every other hour, or sleep sitting, standing; and do that for ten days in a row.

I can not drink, as easily as not eat, as easily as running or do a ‘forward-march’ for twenty four kilo metres, in full marching gear, in fulfilment of the order “Gas!”, in other words in a gas-mask and in protective clothing; just occasionally I’ll need to empty the sweat from underneath the gas-mask – our masks aren’t designed for the sweat to be emptied automatically – especially if so much has gathered that it begins to squelch everywhere and rise up into my nostrils.

I see well at night, I can bear the freezing cold and heat. I’m not afraid if my teeth become wobbly and my gums start hurting and bleeding if I press them with my tongue. I know what to do.

I know which herbs and leaves are edible; I know that if you chew for long enough, even reindeer moss is digestible.

I can swim – in calm or in a storm, with the current or against it, in flippers or without flippers, in a heated wetsuit or without a wetsuit. I can swim either way for a long time. I can be separated from my family for several months, I can step forward “for the defence of the homeland”, get ready, having dropped everything, and then fly off the devil alone knows where. I can live with ten people in a room, without heating, with wives – my own and other people’s – warming up under the blanket with our own breathing, dressed in diving suits as jumpers.

I can shoot in the heat, when the barrel is red hot, and in the cold, when your fingers stick to the metal.

I can set up machine guns on the roof of a house so I could shoot out the whole block, I can come up with a rescue plan or a plan of attack, I can throw a grenade or kill a person with one blow – people are so easy to kill.

I can still do all of that…

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