Tonight's Sky

From: Natasha Vita-More (
Date: Mon Feb 14 2000 - 19:48:08 MST

Today, I was reading the Los Angeles Times astronomy report and learned that
Mercury, Mars, the moon, Jupiter and Saturn will be lined up in the western
sky tonight. Thinking about the possibility of a clear sky (It's been
raining today) and appreciating the planetary performance, I decided to
return to work and continue reading the paper.

Another event will be occurring in the sky of Chechnya tonight, but not
within my view. "Resurfacing in Grozny to Search for Signs of Life" and one
woman's words touched me deeply:

"On Sunday, 73-year-old Viktoria Kudradzhyan left her 65-year-old crippled
sister in the cellar of what remains of their former home and went looking
for food. Bent in half by osteoporosis, she picked her way along the dusty,
smoky road, her red head scarf the only dot of color in the landscape.
She approached a feeding station set up just the day before by Russia's
Capital Emergencies Ministry but was told the food was gone. So she meekly
turned around, lifted her head to get her bearings, then lowered it and
headed home.

A passerby stopped and offered her a loaf of bread, which she placed
carefully in a grimy cloth bag. Then, unable to contain herself, she
sputtered: "Just look at me. I wasn't always poor. I used to have a big
apartment full of nice things. But the Russians burned down my house. Now
all I have is this."

She gestured to her filthy coat, which once had been either beige or gray.
Soot lined the deep creases of her face. "Because of the war," she said, "I
am now ashamed to show myself. ..."

By MAURA REYNOLDS, Times Staff Writer, GROZNY, Russia

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