The Prosperity and Downfall of Igor Ivanovich | Sofia Tantono

Najman Husaini via Pexels

If you turn on the news
as background noise
for when you’re vacuuming
then you’d definitely know that
the ruble has plummeted
until it’s worth less than
the in-game currency
of some random MMO
that nobody’s played
since the early 2010s
but you probably don’t know
about something else that fell
along with the Iron Curtain:
the population of cockroaches
in the former USSR.
A lot of smart people
have come up
with hypotheses
for why this happened,
but honestly?
They’re not that important.
I’d much rather hear about
the life of Igor Ivanovich.

Igor had a nice life
in Soviet Russia.
That was a place
where a roach could work
and it meant something.
All he’d need to do was
visit the garbage chute dutifully
like an old woman prays
in front of an icon
and that was breakfast, lunch and dinner
This was what Lenin dreamt of.
This was what the Bolsheviks bled and died for.
But then that revisionist Gorbachev came
that goddamn bird-shit-on-his-head capitalist
with his McDonald’s and his Pizza Hut ad.
Both fast-food megacorps
with red dominating
their colour scheme.
Wasn’t the red of the Motherland’s flag enough?
That was the red of our heroes’ blood, damn it,
and not the blood of those
imperialised in the Global South.
Bug sprays and fumes floated
on dreams of prosperity and freedom,
along with new ways of waste disposal.
I mean, every bigshot country
has to contribute a bit of plastic
to the world’s oceans.
Well, Igor wouldn’t have minded living in a shithole
as long as they left the garbage chutes alone!
With visions of his comrades piling up dead
like their human male counterparts
from war and vodka,
Igor left for Germany.
He heard West and East reunited last year,
but he didn’t care—
I mean, it’s kind of hard to
when you’re missing out
on the economic miracle
like some East German
and your wife’s just left you
for a fucking kraut
and your kids are shivering
from starvation
and you’re one missed meal away
from eating them.

Last I heard of him, Igor
was thinking of trying
his luck at being a fighting roach.
He could stomach it, sure enough—
his countrymen practically fought
the Nazis by themselves!
And besides, there’s never a shortage
of hoboes who bet on roaches
(both because hoboes have
nothing better to do
than betting on roaches
and also because capitalism
ensures that there’ll never be
a hobo shortage).
See, that’s the sort of thing
that has you looking up how long
cockroaches can last without
their heads and after that,
you wonder if their resilience
is a blessing or a curse,
especially when Igor’s first fight
is against one twice his size.

Sofia Tantono is a writer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in INCUBATE, āraśi and Proyek Utopia, among others. She can be found on Instagram @sofias.writing.

Leave a Reply