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Sofiyko’s choice

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

“Do you remember the movie Sophia’s choice?” my Ukrainian friend asked me suddenly.

“The one with your favourite actress Meryl Streep I sent you on a CD many years back?”

“The one with your favourite actress Meryl Streep I sent you on a CD many years back?”

‘Sofiyko’ smiled at me from the WhatsUp screen:

“I still have it,’ she quickly correct herself:”Had it,

stayed behind in the rubble when our flat was bombed.”


I blew her kisses through the screen: “When you come

to Australia I find it online for you again.”

Suddenly our connection was cut off and the last thing

I heard was a Polish guard arguing with her friend

before she was allowed to board

one of the buses arriving to take thousands of

Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war.


I tried to call her friend again but to no avail

thinking why she thought of that particular movie

walking on foot for four days with her two small

grandchildren and her daughter in law.

Reading about the ’Sophie’s Choice’ on google,

I suddenly remembered Meryl Streep’s agony

when the guard on her arrival to a concentration’s camp,

asked her to choose one of her two children

that would be spare from the gas, only one or none.


Sofiyko’s number on my mobile rang again

so I quickly picked up hearing the small children crying

and her daughter in law singing them a lullaby in Farsi.

“What has happened?” I asked worryingly listening to my

friend’s exhausting voice: “My daughter in law does not look

Ukrainian and neither one of my grand daughter’s,

but I told him we are heading for Australia

where Esin’s family is detained, anyway

did you find out where they are as I asked you?”

I sighed into the mobile: “I am trying ‘Sofiyko’, you know Australian horrific refugee’s policy.

fortunately Esin’s family was moved from offshore processing to mainland but they are still locked up and  I can not access their details and neither contact them.”

fortunately Esin’s family was moved from offshore processing to mainland but they are still locked up and I can not access their details and neither contact them.”

“But you said your prime minister made an exception for us Ukrainians?”

‘Sofiyko’ argued with me: “My daughter in law left Afghanistan to study

medicine where she met my son and have a doctor’s practice in Ukraine

for years now, how is she different to you or me?”


I sighed: “I heard our prime minister’s Sunday speech from his christian church here, he prayed for fellow Ukrainians who are of the same religion and he promised to welcome them with open arms.”

“We are not religious hope it would be no difference to him,” ‘Sofiyko’ sighed

and I assured her: “Don’t worry I will greet you in Sydney airport in no time.”

Or that was what I thought.


In few days ‘Sofiyko’ contacted me again. They managed to cross

to Czech republic where Esin’s colleague was working as a doctor.

They applied for asylum on the Australian embassy and finally got the result.

“They said I can come with one grandchild, but not ‘Esin’.” ‘Sofiyko’ said

quietly and I laughed with irony: “I bet it is ’Svitlana’ your granddaughter

with blonde hair they chose not the Afghan looking ‘Zuha’?”


“How can I choose one grandchild over the other?” ‘Sofiyko’ cried into the mobile: “How can ‘Esin’ choose to keep the one and send the other away?”

I heard ‘Esin’s’ voice in the background: “I thought they need doctors in

Australia? Anyway I do not want any of my children to grow up in the country

that divide people according to their faith and colour, my children would be

always treated differently there.”

The next day I visited the Immigration centre and presented

the Sofiyko case to a bored looking official who glanced at me throwing

a pile of forms at me: “Look, we just follow the government’s policy here,

there is a new refugee status awarded to Ukrainian origin only.”

I looked at the official who adjust his face mask and looked back at his

computer screen: “Check the update on the website, can I help you with

something else?”


“Have you watched the movie called ‘Sophie’s choice’ with Meryl Streep?”

I asked me leaving and he looked up at me bewildered: “I like to watch

Squid Games why?”

I shrugged: “Just watch it maybe then you get it, is there a difference between the war in Ukraine or war in Afghanistan? Can you or anyone

choose whose suffering is of more importance or less?

The bureaucrat shrugged again: “It is not my problem, ask your prime minister I am just following the procedure.”



I nodded and back home I opened the email sent to me by the Scott Morrison’s Conservative Party from their pre-election campaign.

I nodded and back home I opened the email sent to me by the Scott Morrison’s Conservative Party from their pre-election campaign.  ‘Dear Prime Minister, can you please answer me one simple question.

I nodded and back home I opened the email sent to me by the Scott Morrison’s Conservative Party from their pre-election campaign. ‘Dear Prime Minister, can you please answer me one simple question.

Answer honestly if you feel you are worthy to keep your leadership in future.

Is there a difference in the suffering of people according to their faith or colour of their skin? Is it not true that all humans are equal in their suffering?’

Is there a difference in the suffering of people according to their faith or colour of their skin? Is it not true that all humans are equal in their suffering?’

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