Mar 112013

Sergei-Filin dir­ector tells The New Yorker in detail about those first awful minutes after sul­phuric acid was thrown into his face by the no iden­ti­fied attacker:

In those first seconds, all I could think was, How can I relieve the pain? The burn­ing was so awful. I tried to move. I fell face first into the snow. I star­ted grabbing hand­fuls of snow and rub­bing it into my face and eyes. I felt some small relief from the snow. I thought of how to get home. I was pretty close to my door. There’s an elec­tronic code and a metal door, but I couldn’t punch in the num­bers of the code. I couldn’t see them. When I under­stood that I couldn’t get into the build­ing, I star­ted shout­ing, ‘Help! Help! I need help!’ But no one was around. I tried to make my way to another entrance, in the hope that someone would see me and help me. But that was not such a good idea, because I was fall­ing down and get­ting up and bump­ing into cars and into walls and fall­ing down because I couldn’t see any steps. There was so much snow. Snow was com­ing down. I kept rub­bing it into my face.

As nobody respon­ded to his cries, he tried to get help with his mobile:

When I under­stood that there was no use shout­ing for help, I decided to reach into my pocket and put my mobile phone in my hand. I hoped someone would call me. I couldn’t see the screen, so I couldn’t dial. Usu­ally, I get one call after another, but there were no calls for some reason. I tried to knock on the door of each entrance. I’m quite strong and I banged very loudly, but no one was com­ing out to help. Then the phone slipped out of my hand and I lost it in the snow. The pain in my eyes and face was so ter­rible that I had a wave of thought: I was dying. But I only wanted to die if it was in the arms of my wife. The pain was unbear­able. I really thought this might be the end of me.

So, blinded, he tried to make his way through the snow to find someone to help him:

I remembered that at the park­ing lot there’s a booth with secur­ity guards, and I hoped there would be someone there. So I ran in what I thought might be the dir­ec­tion of the park­ing lot. My eyes couldn’t see, but some­how my bod­ily nav­ig­a­tion was alert and it moved me in the right dir­ec­tion. I kept fall­ing down and boun­cing off the cars, as if I were the ball in a pin­ball machine. Even­tu­ally, I made my way to this booth and I star­ted banging on the win­dow. And here I finally lucked out. There was a guard there. He said he was abso­lutely shocked when he saw me. He imme­di­ately scooped up more snow and rubbed it into my face. By now I was trem­bling. I’d developed some sort of fever, it must have been shock, and I kept say­ing, ‘Please call Masha, please call Masha.’ I really thought I was dying. So he called an emer­gency number—for an ambulance—and then he called upstairs to Masha, who came out of the apart­ment and to the park­ing lot. I don’t want to dis­cuss the night­mare that came next: my wife’s reac­tion, the reac­tion of my rel­at­ives who saw me in this con­di­tion. I could hear them cry­ing and I under­stood that what they saw in my face was some­thing … horrendous.

Filin-TsiskaridzeAt the end of a long, detailed, and illu­min­at­ing art­icle by David Rem­nik, where he inter­views many of the prot­ag­on­ists of this extraordin­ary drama, he returns to Filin in Ger­many where he is under­go­ing a series of oper­a­tions to save his sight:

For the first three weeks that I was here in Ger­many, I had a dream every night that I was again approach­ing the gate to my apart­ment build­ing and anti­cip­at­ing some­thing bad but try­ing to do some­thing dif­fer­ent to avoid it, but it hap­pens any­way! In spite of the fact that I’m a strong per­son, I couldn’t turn off my con­scious­ness from this pat­tern of thought. I can say that only now the dream is passing.

I have the feel­ing that I am wait­ing, and that one day I will open my eyes and wake up. But maybe I won’t wake up all on my own! Maybe I will be kissed awake, like in ‘The Sleep­ing Beauty’! And maybe it will be  kiss­ing me—and I will wake up! But, if it’s him, maybe it’s bet­ter that I fall back asleep.

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