March 24, 2022
I was lying on the couch right next to the window, with shoes on, dressed, in a jacket pulled up to my chin, with a backpack, with 4 dog leashes tied to my hand. The dogs were sleeping with me under the blankets.
There was silence, the tanks got quiet. For three days, the tank battle was happening on the neighboring Makar Mazai Street, at times getting closer and at times moving away. One tank stood next to our building. And whenever it would start shooting, the dogs and I would dive under the bathtub, covering our heads with a blanket. It was so cold and scary that the whole body ached, it was simply turning into stone.
It was sunny, the sun trying to get through the window covered with blankets and pillows. I really really wanted to sleep.
My son spent the night in the cellar. In the morning, came to us in apartment #7, brought hot water, then went out into the common corridor to the neighbors.
The next moment, I found myself under the ceiling, bricks, wires. Plaster dust covered my eyes and mouth.
I heard my neighbor Nadia calling for me, calling my name, calling, calling.
I realized that I am buried but my hands are free. Another [missile] arrives, throwing me further through the apartment, my ceiling falls on my head, I am now almost entirely buried.
It comes again and the brick flies at my face, I see it very clearly.
The whole time, I can hear someone calling my name.
Another one arrives and I find myself in a common corridor where my son and neighbors had previously been.
My neighbor Nadia is pressed by two iron doors, hers and mine. I only see her hand and hear how she goes through all the names, Natasha, Hrysha, Serhiy, Roma…
I see a piece of my jacket that I wore, such bright orange, peeking out from under the debris.
I see someone lying under the rubble of two walls, an iron shield with counters is lying on top of him. I see only blood and someone’s hair. Then, a cliff from the 7th floor. I try to dig out, but have no strength to move the iron shield.
I ask Nadia: «You're in one piece?»
She answers: «Sort of.»
I continue to dig with one hand. Why only with one, why not with two? My thoughts jump around and become confusing, it hurts a lot, my eyes can barely see.
Suddenly I understand that I am holding on to my dog with my other hand, I try to open my hand and get the chihuahua into the neighboring apartment where it is safe.
Nadia continues to call for everyone, listing them by name.
My son is under the rubble, I can’t see the rest. The soldiers arrive. They start to dig and are trying to get me out through that cliff on the 7th floor.
Romka is buried in his apartment, alive, he got lucky that he managed to close his door a few seconds before the door collapsed.
A floor below, a family of 5 with a small child is under the rubble.
I was pulled out through the debris, went down the stairs to the first floor in order to call for help. On the lower floors I saw Hrysha. He managed to come down a minute before…
I go down and catch myself thinking that I am looking at myself from above and from the side and I don’t care.
I call the soldiers for help. They run uphill. But clearly their strength is not sufficient to dig out everyone. I go down to the cellar and call for our men.
I turn to Vit’ka, the neighbor, and tell him: «Your friend and neighbor is under the rubble with the family. You need to help.»
In response, I hear: «Let him dig himself out. What the hell was he doing sitting there?»
The soldiers dug out everyone. The son was brought to the cellar on the blanket. They said «Chances of survival are almost non-existent.»
We have neither doctors nor medicine.
There is only a cold cellar, a plane, pain and death, and almost no chance to survive.
The shelling does not stop for a moment.
Translated by Natalya Barden