She’s 81 years old and this is her third evacuation.
My grandma Liudmyla was born in Donetsk in 1940. In 1941, during World War II, she was evacuated to Kursk Oblast and caught pneumonia on the way. There was inflammation and then surgery. Since then, she has lived all her life missing part of the most important respiratory organ.
In 2017, when my parents finally managed to persuade her to leave the occupied city where she had lived all her life, we brought her to Kyiv. Well, if you can call it persuasion: she started getting lost, didn’t always take calls, and we had no relatives left in Donetsk, other than the graves of our ancestors.
2022. We spent 8 days in the Kriukiv area. We stayed there despite the shelling and missiles showering down. Finally, when shells began to land on neighboring houses, we had to leave again. She took only one icon with her and held it tightly on her lap for the entire 10-hour trip from Kyiv to Vinnytsia.
At night, she forgets her way to the bathroom in a one-room apartment, because this place is unfamiliar. So she sits there until one of us wakes up and takes her back to bed. In the morning, she asks where are we and what are we doing here. The bomb blasts seem to have faded from her fragile memory, and she is getting used to the constant sound of sirens.
For the past 17 days, my grandma’s sister Svetlana, born during their first evacuation, has been living in the stairwell of a high-rise building not far from the Kharkiv Tractor plant. She is partly paralyzed, can’t walk, and suffers from a serious illness. The other day she celebrated her 80th birthday in that stairwell. Her daughter takes care of her. They will not leave Kharkiv: the city has become a part of their bodies; it flows through their veins.
If they start bombing Vinnytsia as well, I don’t know how my grandma will survive yet another evacuation. I also don’t know where we will go next.
Has anyone ever taken away your home? Twice?
Daryna, Kyiv, originally from Donetsk