Aleksandr Aleksandrov, dressed in a neat suit and tie, had, after a long and difficult fight, been given permission to interview the City prison's hunger strikers.
He made his way through the narrow, sterile prison corridors, following a guard with a thick moustache, who communicated in grunts and gestures. He was finally admitted to the cells, and the guard stopped and looked at him.
He's probably waiting for me to choose a prisoner to talk to, thought Aleksandrov.
He lookedat the names of the incarcerated, and immediately one sprang out to him: Krasimir Dulka. He pointed to the cell, and entered it.
It was much like the others, with a bed, a sink, and a sectioned-off restroom. Krasimir was on the bed, staring into space. Aleksandrov approached him.
–Mr. Dulka,– he said patiently. –My name is Aleksandr Aleksandrov, and I'm wondering if you could spare me a couple of minutes of your time so that I could interview you.–
–Government or independent?– croaked Krasimir.
–What do you mean?
–Government-funded or independent newspaper?
–Oh. Independent.– He's paranoid, thought Aleksandrov. –So...how many days have you been on hunger strike?–
–Has it been hard?
Krasimir lifted his head and looked past Aleksandrov: but the guard was gone, and the door was still open. –I told him to leave when we got here, because it might distract you,– said Aleksandrov tentatively.
Krasimir swallowed, and then said, –It's been fucking awful. All I think about is food.–
–And how many of you are there?
–From the barricade?– Krasimir sank back into his bed. –Well, just me. But the other four have demonstrated their solidarity with me, and I don't know if there are any comrades from the barricade that are in prison: at least, they're nowhere round here.–
–And have you been force-fed?
–No.– Krasimir stared at the ceiling. –They keep threatening to, though.–
The next question wasn't originally on Aleksandrov's notes, but he felt compelled to ask, because the man looked so miserable. –Do you miss your friends?– he asked him quietly.
And Krasimir replied, equally quietly, –Yes.