• Номер запису / Number of record: 253-20-04
  • Автор(-ка) / Author: Anna
  • Дата запису / Date of record: August 26, 2022
  • Регіон / Region: Kharkiv region

I opened the windows yesterday evening for the first time this summer. Boldly, widely, in the entire apartment on its 17th floor. Like I used to in a past life.

A few years ago, when I was looking for an apartment, I only looked at those that were closer to the sky.

I remember the realtor talking over the phone to a colleague: «I have a client here, she’s definitely Karlsson’s granddaughter. The tenth floor is ‘a bit too low' for her.»

I just like where there’s lots of air, birds, and a view of my favorite city.

Now I can see the frontlione. I can see when the shells are coming in. I can see the explosions and he fires. When the bombers were sweeping around, it seemed like I could see the faces of the pilots.

It’s Kharkiv’s hot, intolerably airless summer. Yet windows everywhere are closed, curtained, cross-taped, and even covered in plywood.

Nothing left to breathe.

I’m tired of hiding. From the shockwaves of explosions, from shrapnel, from the crashing. I opened the windows wide and let the cool evening air of August into my home. God, what bliss.

For a long while, I sat on the balcony looking at the incredible starry sky. I had never seen so many stars in Kharkiv.

It was a hard day. Probably the hardest in my whole life.

I said good-bye to Mama.

Still, everything was somehow right, even graced that day. Without incident, without clashing processions, when two grieving groups meet in a corridor or in a side street.

There were no false notes, no pathos, and no ritualized actions. The weather was beautiful and something rare in the city—silence.

We drove Mama right to the central entrance of the cardiology department so that Father could say his farewells.

«We don’t do that here, it’s not normal, near the building,» an annoyed female orderly snapped at us.

But we do. In our family, we always do what our hearts tell us, not etiquette.

I had never heard my father cry.

«My life. My soul. You gave me sixty years of happiness. God damn this war.»

Such a strong love. Such powerful hatred.

Mama collapsed from a stroke just a few minute after the explosion of yet another russian shell in the next yard.

And she could not get up. And never did.

Yeah, Dad, damn this war. Curse the people who started it and are supporting it. Damned so completely that they will never find peace, not on the earth, not in heaven.

I pushed the windows open. I breathed August in and watched the stars.

Half a year of war. Spring passed us by, «the spring that we never saw.»

Summer is coming to an end, «the summer that they took away from us.»

In a few more days, it will be fall. Let it be «the fall that brought us victory.»

Anna, Kharkiv

Translator: Lidia Wolanskyj