This is a story for summer reading, but not reading for a trivial fleeting pleasure. This is a reading we should all take close to heart, not only to mind. I am talking about Mirian (Mikka) Chelidze, the Georgian policeman whose heart stopped beating as a result of his being an overstrained witness to the tragic details of the Shovi natural disaster in northwest Georgia at the beginning of this month. I was lucky enough to have known him in person in his salad years. We met in his native village Cheliagele of the gorgeously beautiful Racha about three decades ago. The now late ardent patriot’s house is located right across the street from the yard-gate of my closest friends and soulmates – the Kobakhidzes, an old-core, traditional family with centuries-old local, but still flourishing, roots. The Kobakhidze-Chelidze kinship is well-known and long-established in this strong and reverent neighborhood. So, to not be at odds with my own self, I needed to have a last farewell look at our good Mirian, whose erstwhile benevolence and hospitality will never be forgotten as long as I am alive.
It was the 10th of August that our wonderful Mikka was last seen lying in state under the dome of Nikortsminda, one of the most stunning churches of 11th century Sakartvelo. I arrived to see the church yard and the entire neighborhood full of respectfully soundless and sincerely saddened people from all around Georgia. I was internally shocked to see those handsome young men, standing motionless in a guard of honor at the cathedral entrance, as if fortifying in advance the memory of their beloved Mirian, no longer talking and encouraging them in the deeds they are all prepared for, any time their country needs their dedication. Major Mirian Chelidze was indeed a genuine comrade-in-arms for the scores of bereft policemen who stood together to perform their last duty to their elder friend and associate. The expectation of the last appearance of the draped-in-flag casket in the church door was painfully stressful, but so unanimous at the same time that one would wish for this kind of nobility and high-mindedness to vibrate throughout the entire nation, it being the kind of feeling that would annihilate, with just one stroke of a hand, the nonsensical political gibberish that ensued as a vicious ideological consequence of the 3rd-of-August Shovi tragedy, smearing Georgia even worse than the thousands of tons of dirt brought down by the calamitous avalanche.
We all followed the funeral procession to the very brink of the grave, where the burial volley was discharged while the precious body was lowered into its final abode. Nobody wanted to talk. Nobody wanted to comment. Nobody wanted to move. They were all reminiscing the heartfelt and selfless effort of their native villager Mirian Chelidze, the father of three minors and the former favorite boy of the neighborhood, who found himself on the spot of the disaster, together with his team, in practically no time to help the victims of the unheard-of ruin. He, like all of them who were mobilized, certainly did their possible best to save lives, but Mikka could not survive the unimaginable emotionality that accompanied the whole rescue process. His heart, as his friends and relatives told me with tears in their reddened eyes, was big, but so tender that it turned out to be unable to take so much pressure, tension and anxiety. No first aid, no friendly assistance, no further medical interference could save him. He passed away serving his people and honoring the human conscience that builds our ethics and integrity. Thank you, Mikka, our dear man, and rest your soul in peace. Sit Tibi Terra Levis!