Yesterday I took off my tights for the first time in 12 days. I thought I would tear them off together with my flesh, as I’ve already experienced something similar happening to my heart recently. But surprisingly, the [or my] body is so tough that nothing sticks to it now. Not even blood.
We spent 10 days under siege. 2 km from Makariv. In one of the most infernal places in Ukraine, which has been ruthlessly torn apart all this time. Without light, heat, water, communication. Almost no news.
Yesterday, after we’d gone crazy, and just drove across a field under attack by a «Grad» rocket launcher, I started reading and watching the news. Only 10 percent of it was previously known to me from text messages from my relatives and what I had got on the radio when I could listen…
Just like Leeloo from «The Fifth Element,» I saw all the horrors of war in an instant. I was reading for 5 hours and was watching my country and the town of my dreams, Irpin, being destroyed to ashes. I lived in that town happily for 4 years and my whole life is still there. […]
I have learned that if you so much as look at a column of tanks, one of them will turn around and just shoot you, as was the case with three neighbors on our street. I have learned that if you try to take the children out through the Russian line, you will be turned into minced meat, as was the case with a family from the neighboring village.
I’ve learned that if you look at a candle in a cold, damp shelter for 5 hours straight, you can stop the cry of horror and rage inside of you and feel calmer, but you will still get sick anyway.
I’ve learned how to make pads from diapers carefully left by my grandmother after her youngest grandson. I’ve learned that it takes a missile from a «Grad» rocket launcher from 6 to 14 seconds to land somewhere after the launch (depending on the distance) and sometimes, if you try hard, you can manage to go to the toilet while they are flying.
I’ve learned that a true blackout is not just the lights going out everywhere, but learning how to pour water into a glass for a child in complete darkness, and to determine how full the cup is from the sound. I’ve learned how to make a candle from leftover paraffin and oiled paper, and that ordinary church candles burn out in just 25 minutes.
I’ve learned how to wash a child, myself, my husband, wash clothes, wash the floor, and flush the toilet, all with the same water. I’ve learned how to attach a phone to the ceiling light, so that, in the seconds when there is some connection, the precious message about the Russian invaders' change of location could be sent where it needed to be sent.
I’ve learned how to come up with a game in the shelter to boost the morale of not only the children, but all the adults there too. I’ve learned how to talk to a kid about the war, so that he would eat, sleep, be calm, and be convinced that he himself could destroy 50 tanks.
I’ve learned what it’s like to choose between leaving parents in danger, because their home is there and they are not ready to leave it, and taking your child out of this danger, because he must have all his future ahead.
As you can see, I have gained a lot of very «valuable» knowledge for the 21st century. I really will never forget it. And I will not forgive it. There’s just one thing I haven’t learned: what to say to a child who constantly asks in the basement every day — Mom, what do these tanks want from us? I truly don’t know.
Oksana, Kyiv Oblast
Translated by Dasha Osipova
Edited by A. S. Brown