A War Diary. Larysa Denysenko
With the start of a full-scale Russian attack on Ukraine, the lives of members and the administrative team of PEN Ukraine have changed. Some have taken up arms instead of a pen, some are spending days in volunteer coordination points or at train stations, helping people fleeing the war, and some securely hold the information front. Our colleague, writer, lawyer, and public figure Larysa Denysenko, remains in Kyiv — she is winning the victory on the information front and continues actively work for human rights, especially protecting women and children affected by the war. In a special section "A War Diary", she documents her experience and recalls the events of recent weeks. Posts are placed in reverse chronological order; in order to read the entries in the sequence intended by the author, we recommend going back to the end of the material. It will be updated regularly.
The teenagers in my area are currently discussing a nuclear strike.
The older ones, sitting on benches or in sports facilities, talk about what to do when they hit here, and what if they’re closer to the center. They laugh, push slightly, they’re very brave, but this laughter is definitely protective.
The children of Kyiv – the children of the children of Chornobyl, are talking about May 8, 9 and 10 and are aware that there could be a nuclear strike.
– You told Tanya she was your world? – a girl asks. He laughs, hugs her affectionately, I don't hear whether he said this to Tanya, I don't know whether this Tanya exists or if even this girl exists, who he lightly hugged around the shoulders and in a way that means something. The third of their pack silently drinks something from a can.
The younger ones talk about nuclear weapons in a very businesslike manner. They’re on the swings. Here you can hear them: what are you, a moron? You're an idiot, you don't understand anything! Get out of here! If it happens, everyone will die, but you can make yourself a special room. You think that’s for real? You think someone did that? Like the president? No. He can't live while everyone dies. Who’s he gonna be without us? Without who? Without people. Without Ukraine.
– Hey! Will you get to me? No way! You won't get to me! No one will get to me! – says a little climber sitting on an apple tree branch, the apple tree all in bloom.
No, no one will get you there, little apple girl. Kyiv’s children and teenagers in my district are talking about a nuclear strike.
The Great Sons and Daughters of our Land daily depart their lives in agony, in medical battles for life.
Recently, I’ve been feeling as if I’m in a stupor. I knit mourning ribbons with engraved names, known and unknown, on the wreaths of glory. If you don’t allow yourself to let go, your whole back burns.
The earth is burning. And we are burned. Great battles for our lives, great deeds, victories, great strength, brave hearts stop, to stop the enemy.
I am arranged such that I can cry easily and emotionally, and from special joy for someone. But when I'm bitter, scared and hurt – I can't cry.
Physiologically, this has had the effect that my eye temperature is higher than my body temperature, as if my eyes were burnt. Today I went to the doctor, who prescribed me drops and said that I shouldn’t hold back my tears. And I'm not specifically holding back.
When I blink, I get the impression that in place of my eyelashes are bushes. And my eyes are burning.
I am a person-dragon. In my eyes burns anger, rage, pain. All these feelings have a purpose.
Fucking Russian world, rusnya, the occupiers are finished: disgust, rage, contempt.
Children in my area ride scooters to get to the shelters.
– See you later!
– See you here after the all clear signal!
They sing about the red viburnum. They sing: Ukraine is not yet dead.
They are evacuating a Yorkie. Yorkie lives in danger. They say on the walkie-talkie "Yorkie is in danger", "let's go", say "boom" and whistle – it's exploding shells, and they go to save Yorkie.
They play curfew and "road patrol".
– What do you want from a woman, damn patroller?
– Mister police officer, it bothers me!
– Everything will be fine now. We’re taking this bastard!
They beat on the orcs. Nobody wants to be an orc. Then they say: we’re beating the orcs.
"What, Aurora," a mother asks her blond, agile daughter. "You’ve taken over everything but your reign is over, the kids are back."
Aurora holds a royal pause, a slight smile, her back proudly straight. I remember her from February. Aurora in pink, a crown on her headband, her mother – with a metal tub and bottles of water. Aurora is dancing.
The children of my district are returning.
My Kyiv district has changed. People are walking around. This fist-clenching or paralysis is disappearing a little.
I’m watching myself like an organism that has felt the closeness of the enemy, letting go of it a little, but I still walk tensely.
Local restaurants started working last week. Yesterday I was there for the first time since January, because of covid, then the war. I was at a meeting.
Physiologically, I coped with this somewhere around 40%. I didn't run away, even though it hit me hard inside, I went to the toilet, I didn't run away. I was able to drink coffee, but I couldn't eat. I can't go there yet, or I have to overcome it somehow, I don't know.
Trenches, sand, sacks, the fortifications haven’t gone anywhere. The area is cordoned off, the land doesn’t relax.
Kyiv is being revived. It began, in tiny steps, after the artillery had subsided. Demining doesn’t scare even the birds, the number of alarms has decreased until there are no flyovers, the city is saturated with spring.
I think that the academic year in the schools of my district should begin with honoring the Kyiv suburbs, which with their chests, often women’s and girls’, restrained and repulsed the enemy, repulsed this first terrible and audacious attack. Whatever happens next, I hope for a positive scenario. Kyiv must remember this.
And the words, the intonations should be chosen together with the heroic communities of the Kyiv region.
The birth of chestnut leaves and flowers always reminds me of a chick that is beginning to spread its wings and is still blindly staring at our world.
Kyiv. +3 and a funny dog.
The first night without an air alarm in Kyiv. When you get up, it feels like this sound is sitting in your ears.
And just pray and say to the universe for Mariupol to hold on, that the world will react more strongly to the evil that is raging there. For the life in Kharkiv to become at least a little easier. For the Kherson region to not lose hope that we’re thinking about them. For the Luhansk region to hold despite daily damages, and the Donetsk region. And the Zaporizhzhia area, and Mykolaiv.
And don’t let anything out of your head and your heart. Because when it recedes from you, when you just realize that you slept almost all night, when your heart hurts, your brain functions, but your body already wants to let go of this threat, you need to keep yourself in shape.
I felt this period – until the first night without an air alarm – very much physically. I don’t get and don’t know how people in relative safety felt all this, here in Ukraine, but this is a bodily feeling of fear, death, perhaps bizarre and even unlikely, little of which can be compared to emotions.
I am a planning person. I plan days, weeks, years.
When I now receive – and they do come – invitations to international events dated May, July, September, I look at these letters for a long time, then close them. I'm unsure, I open them, because I need to reply something to people. I write, then I understand that they’ll be embarrassed to read it, because who’s happy to read that I don’t see my future even within a week? Why should good people read something like this? I don’t want to embarrass them, so I change the text, send it or not.
When I’m told that the event is scheduled for Saturday, I also am unsure because I am not sure when this Saturday is and where I am this Saturday.
Because I am still living on February 23, sick with covid, but myself. And on February 24, another person appeared – timid and angry at the same time, a nervous gawk, burned, with tremendous amount of pain inside.
But here is this relative calm, enemy heavy artillery expelled, air alarms reduced, time without the daily – more than a month – rocket babbling, and they say: try to plan. And I'm going, I'm planning – I need to write down even the little things that are worth trying to do.
I talk to myself and agree. And here's the first thing I hear from my planner:
You must wake up tomorrow.
I made a plan to write it down.
I very rarely remember dreams, and I very rarely have them. But today was interesting. And I did remember.
I was in the Pecherska Lavra, I always wander there, aimlessly along the paths. I'm wearing a white short-sleeved sweater and jeans. I walk, draw probably, look around.
I come out and see white petals or chunks of ice circling with pigeons against a background of trees. The sky is blue and quiet. It's very beautiful, and I watch it.
Eyes down — there is a pond, over which something weak and shabby is trying to rise, it spreads its wings as if beaten by a moth, and I see that it is an eagle. It is so crumpled, sick, and two dogs plod over to it. I feel sorry for it for a moment, but I don't stop: two dogs with aching backs, one healthy black, the other a happy spaniel. There are many people around: women, children, old women, and it looks around, asking for help. And like a bird, and like I should have pity, but I walk on, and it turns into a bunch of gunpowder, a mottled gray nothing.
Since the 24th, our sky has been burning. The artillery has not been silent for a single day. That's why I physically felt what was happening in Bucha. These sounds demonstrated how the evacuation of people under the Irpin Bridge was disrupted.
During all this time there was only one evening with a few hours of silence. It was definitely March, but I don't remember when.
Walks in the morning and in the evening with the dog, thanks to the Ukrainian army, were possible, everything could be heard even louder than when we were at home, and outside the windows — constant exploding, buzzing, knocking.
By the way, the dog calmly accepted all this: he reacted more to the way something fell on the floor from the neighbor above than to the activities of the air defense or the explosions. But he is very focused on me: when I sat down on the street from one very loud bang, a cunning macaque crawled under me.
A colleague, who came to me from Osokorky, grabbed my hand and shouted: "Let's run, God, why did you come out, why are you so calm, what is this?" I said that for us it’s always been this way. At the time, I didn't know what was wrong. She asked, "Why didn't you tell me about it? I wouldn't have gone." I just didn't think.
When they chased the orcs for two days in a row, God, how the sky was rent! I can distinguish the sounds of different artillery, then I heard new ones, it was terrifying and savage, but it's my ours. Ours.
The smell of burning everywhere around us was so palpable. Exceeding the norm 33 times. At 9. At 13. I will not tell you what and who I thought about when I inhaled.
In an area very close to me I found a mine. On the second day of the invasion we had a tank breach. We caught a saboteur, a citizen of Russia, renting an apartment, also an interesting experience.
The suburbs are close to us. My phone often calls the territory of my apartment Vyshhorod.
But Pushcha is the Obolon district [of Kyiv].
My mother is deaf, so she didn't hear those sounds, but she was very upset when she saw the "Iskander" outside the windows. Well, me too. And I was covered, yes. And now I'm not all that ok, my relationship with silence — that’s a different story.
During this time, I developed symptoms: sometimes a ringing in my ears at night, as if a fairy had arrived. Experts say that's how some people hear missiles.
Regarding returning. If you live in Pushcha — definitely not. Mines have been found in the park areas of the city. The northern areas are also dangerous. If you have a phobia of missile strikes (most normal and relatively normal people don’t take much joy from this), then don’t rush. The capital is a symbol for these pigs, so we are always the target. Don't aim for one or two. Take aim.
Take care of yourself as much as possible. +3 and a funny dog. Kyiv. Obolon.
In fact, life in Kyiv, even if you don't think about the missiles (and even if the air defense systems work well, few people think about them), differs depending on the area of residence.
For example, the Left Bank is more protected from the sounds of war than the right bank. In addition to Troyeschyna and Lisovy.
If someone wants audio impressions, it is better to move closer to Pushcha Vodytsia, Sviatoshynskyi district, Vynohradar, or to us in Obolon. The harder the battles, the more different sounds you learn. Today I singled out two more new sounds, one with a whistle.
The same goes for infrastructural things. There are areas where there are more open pharmacies. Those ones are open, but not all pharmacies overall, because not all of them are working.
There are areas where there are simply no Nova Poshta [private Ukrainian postal and courier company] branches open. I am insanely grateful to the people of Nova Poshta, because what you are doing now is a feat.
My area has always been filled with natural markets. Now, for the first time during this time, we have opened a small market named after the borscht set. They also exist in the city, but there are no large bazaars.
However, sometimes cars come. When it all started, it was possible to stand in line for a small number of open supermarkets for two or three hours. Sometimes it was possible to get a humanitarian loaf, humanitarian apples and toilet paper. Pharmacies often do not have all the necessary drugs, but it also depends on the circumstances.
I remember one time when Silpo had only oranges, avocados and guacamoles.
There are many people who have left their pets with others or handed them over to pet stores. In some places it looks like this. "And why is this food for my cats much more expensive? Are you kidding? I bought for it a different amount in February, I did not expect that" (obscenity). Yes, our feed became more expensive and the choice became worse because there is no supply. And there is simply no cheaper food.
"Why are you feeding my parrots this expensive food? Are you too lazy to rush to the bird and buy wheat from the peasants?"
Well, first of all, there is no "bird". Secondly, its proximity under these conditions is not proximity. Third, the peasants. God. People of Kyiv region. Someone has enough — or something is missing — to write such things. Please look at the Kyiv region. With people, houses, cars. But every day I feel my guilt in Kyiv for what happened and is happening there.
"Can't you water my flowers in Lisovoy? The keys are at my neighbor P’s. Is it really that difficult?"
Difficult. One of my friends really wanted to see Sofia, on this day her stubbornness and love could be measured in 35,000 steps. It is difficult, because moving around the city is not what you are used to. It turned out that we drove to the left bank for almost 4 hours. My mother had a nervous breakdown.
"Do you have banks? Take away the indicators and salaries for communal services". Concerning removable indicators — we read about movement. And about the bank: e-banking also works, everyone, except people who do not have this option, can do it.
"Can you come in and see what's wrong with my apartment? Are you gone? Did you look? Why aren't you there yet? Is everything bad there? Aaaa".
But I haven't arrived yet, because sometimes there are 14 air alarms a day, you don't have time to stand in line at the pharmacy and come back, because it's starting. There are people who don't pay much attention to it, but I, for example, pay attention.
The city lives. The city tries to provide many important necessities for the military, for civilians. The capital is not as exhausted as Kharkiv, the capital is not as exhausted as Chernihiv, the capital is not Mariupol… But there are peculiarities here as well. Think about it, my dears.
Sometimes it seems that only people with dogs remain in the neighborhood.
We all know each other because of dogs, it's when you know it's Chuck, it's Kira, it's Billy, and we're like maids in the "Maid's Diary": Chakova, Kiryna, Billova, Luciferova.
The dogs got used to the roar of the sky. Around us is constant roaring, and I can already distinguish the sounds here. When I turn it up louder in my mind sometimes, I still can't even imagine what my friend in Irpen hears, but my pulse instantly speeds up.
Suddenly there is a sound of something else. Lucifer’s ears form horns. One day that sound swelled so much that I sat down, and it rose up under me.
We say where something has opened, there aren’t many options, but there are certain routes that can be tested. Nastya goes to work (I won't say which one), Nastya Puncheva, Punch is already walking.
Someone is sitting on a lemon — his head hurts mercilessly. Someone is shaking, Kyiv conversations are often local about the here and now.
Kiryna says that we all left, to one degree or another, cuckoo.
I say that this is just good, an excellent indicator, because we do not live normally, and we can’t do this as normal people.
This is such a motivational speech! Oh, I used to specialize in motivational speeches! That everyone is delights, gives their thanks and happily goes their separate ways until the next meeting.
As people who have gone cuckoo, we are very careful about the future, so we do not say "until tomorrow", but say "let the day be a little calmer".
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv.
Today is restless. Yes, Kyiv is a big and majestic city, each district has its own dangers to different degrees.
I’m without points and photos. But I think it's important to say this. Apparently, at a distance it is unclear or perceived differently. Well, it’s still possible for me to write.
In the queue, a very long queue where people were standing, the woman called her mother in Chernihiv to say that they were worried. And the mother is delivering water by car. And so we, a few women, told her that she was incredible, but we had to be careful, we asked her to just tell her over the phone that she is strong, and we love her.
Hello, by the way, the International Red Cross. A 58-year-old woman is delivering water in Chernihiv in her car. One woman, a physical person, for fuck’s sake. What are you doing?
Suddenly it was wildly loud. And only then anxiety. And the children, the children standing in line with their parents, reacted — each and every one. Someone fell on the asphalt. Someone squatted. Someone was looking at the sky in fascination. Someone whispered, "I'm so scared, can we hide somewhere?" And two men took the babies in their arms and carried them to safety.
And we have already talked to those who did not go, told short stories. Why didn't everyone go to the shelter? Well, because it was a long queue, and everyone had obligations, expectations, worries about a possible extended curfew, and since Kyiv is a big city, maybe they knocked were down / fell, and that's all?
But a little later it was still like this. Kyiv.
My dear Kyivans, I beg you very much, wherever you are now, for whatever and however strongly you grieve, no matter how you are enveloped (and it envelops everyone, we live in an impossible state), whatever you leave here in your homes, we should not talk about Kyiv as if we were leveled to the ground.
Don’t talk in the past tense, try to understand this.
Don’t say that blossoming apricots, cherries, wild boar, lilacs, chestnuts are impossible this year, that life is impossible this spring, and it is possible somewhere there, in the future, when you return — or not — to here.
There are really few of us here. Every morning I see departures, departures, change of intonation, pictures, someone does not even say goodbye, psychologically it is easier to go in silence. Apparently.
I am writing this during an air alarm, the night was quite quiet, and the silence is just as stressful, because you think: what are you preparing for, bitches?
And I think with pain about the suburbs, Okhtyrka, Rubizhne, Kreminna, Chernihiv, Kharkiv (God, the shootings in the queue for humanitarian packages, the destruction of the center of academic education — Karazin University, Saltivka), Mariupol — a hero city, a martyr city, I look with tension at the movement of weapons, aircraft, missiles, fuel, food, trucks in Belarus. Nobody knows, though, whether I will keep writing.
But I beg you, do not mourn Kyiv. We are here, we are alive, we are holding and holding the city. Don't mourn us now. It is dishonest and unbearably painful.
Our city has a connection of faith and / or energy with everyone, strengthen it, don’t mourn.
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv.
On the street amidst the sounds of roaring, celestial blades, rumbling, the roaring does not freeze like spring, nature, even my dog are freezing less than me. I freeze and listen.
I wanted to record these sounds on a dictaphone today, then changed my mind. In each of these sounds there is anxiety, first of all, in each of these towns where you wouldn’t bring a dog to those sounds, you wouldn’t be in those conditions.
I learned to talk to strangers who are in hell on earth, but there are no queues for paradise. I address them by name, talk to them, reminisce.
My Kyiv has narrowed to a small radius due to personal circumstances. And the country has expanded to an incredible perimeter, I try to hold it, not let go.
Life in the corridor is quite normal. All the conveniences of civilization, except that the artillery arrives. You know the exact location of the area, the importance of the mileage, where our people repulsed the enemy.
And then there is Russian roulette, when in the amazing blue, like church domes, the murderous destructive evil appears in the Kyiv sky.
I have always been a person of action, who helps. I have become someone who receives care and help. I work with no strength, my low usefulness, nerves, fears, sometimes all my blood is so full of empathy that I choke.
Physiological manifestations, probably as for most people, fear has hot breath, it goes in waves, it can be borne. The pain, for example, in Mariupol can be such that I vomit, sorry, in the toilet. Out of hatred I vomit, such are the miscarriages of that state.
Air alarms have not become everyday life, but they often cause feelings of doom and fatigue.
I have three clothing options: street night, street day and just street.
And when I hear the words "survivor's syndrome," I sometimes feel like flowers were brought to my grave, but this is also condition one can work with.
I feel a lot of love in these times. To myself, from myself. Distant people often show more of the necessary emotions than close ones.
Kyivans have become more and more familiar, the signs of online life are like a living star map of the sky: everything is fine with my people, we are keeping order, we are keeping the city. And the city of Kyiv is not simple. It is often disliked, but it loves everyone. Such luck.
My mother and dog often sleep on me in this corridor of ours, they cling to me, my back and heart already hurt, but you come together and hold on. As the defenders hold the sky over Ukraine.
A month of the full—scale orc invasion. +3 and a funny dog. Kyiv, the capital of steadfastness, empathy and freedom.
I want to talk about fear.
Apparently, everyone understands that fear for their lives, for the lives of their children, loved ones — this is normal.
Someone may try to swallow it, and it, like a big pill, can get stuck anywhere and interfere with breathing.
Sometimes, fear is caused by the fact that your house is beaten mercilessly. Water is melted snow, and it still needs to be collected from the outside, and out there it is flying and howling. You crawl out because the child's lips are cracking, you crawl and see the body of a neighbor, and a dog holding something like a human limb in its mouth.
There is a fear when you drive a car at random, and you are stopped by the Buryats, the Kadyrovites, and others, and you have already seen what happened to others, they climb over to your son with a giggle: "You're a man, what are you roaring like a cow?" And suddenly they let you through, you go and hear shots behind your back.
There is fear when you carry an old mother, a dog, a carrier with a cat, somewhere a man is taking three children out by car, and all around they are shooting at your life, and you drag it all, because you still can, and you don’t understand — is this fear, despair, mad courage?
There is fear when a neighbor went to get bread and did not return. They got him in the ATM queue.
And to sit and howl helplessly, because there is no word from relatives for a day, three, a week, and you know from the news what is happening there. And you are still alive, like a knife.
There is fear when you wait for shelling every day, because rarely disappoints you, and it flies in from somewhere: from the sky, from land positions. Fear lies on the floor with you, wakes up with you, first pokes you in the eye with a fingernail: "I woke up, right? Did you sleep? Nooo. You didn't sleep. Ggggggooooooodddddd."
There is fear, because there is war. Just fear, because war and life do not return to normal. You can't live with it at all. You can't cope, get used to it, kick it out, you can't switch it off.
Like the pain threshold, the threshold of empathy, the threshold of fear is different for everyone.
And people leave places where they feel fear. These people are different, someone has one backpack, two children, a cat and zero resources.
Someone has a good suitcase and more resources, at least financially, on their cards than those people who meet at the stations and borders.
But no card compensates for fear. Finances can help a person get better, that's all.
But few people from Kyiv and Kharkiv, from Sumy and well-heel (I can't write about it without trembling) Bucha neighborhoods just dreamed of leaving their beloved apartments and life to settle, where they were lucky, in Chernivtsi, Romania, Krakow, Lviv, Uzhgorod. They didn't want to change their lives like that.
I'm not talking about military tourism and holiday stays in Georgia or Turkey. There are also such cases, I know such people and have them among my acquaintances.
I am talking about people who saved their lives, their children, their psyche from a real threat.
Some are broken by fear and confused, and some focus and act with aggression. Fear points to our humanity, and fear brings to the surface our savagery.
I just want to say to all the centers of comprehensive care and assistance that it is exhausting and often thankless: you face people who are catastrophically intimidated, and this is manifested in various forms of human behavior: respectable and irritating.
In 2014-15 and after, many "Donetskis" came to Kyiv, not because they could live the good life there, but because the occupiers brought fear, anger, and destroyed the hard-earned life in Donetsk.
And here, too, there was a lot of raging: "Wow, she’s got herself a car! Wow they bought themselves a home! Wow, he's so arrogant and puts on airs! "
What became of the lives of the three wealthy people, whose presence was noticeable and annoying, was that they joined hundreds of others expelled by the enemy, tired and intimidated, who were not noticed.
But all these people, whose lives fit in a Lexus and seven suitcases, and whose lives lurked in a tiny backpack and out-of-season clothes, were forced to do so. Forced. Forced by war.
People are temporarily forced.
And we all have to live with it. Not enough painkillers, sedatives, antibiotics do not work.
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv.
In fact, I do not sleep, even when I turn off the sound of alarms, the body itself turns everything on, well, the air speaks to you, the city speaks to you.
I lost 12 kg, it's good that my ass was prepared for this (actually not for this), so that’s at the lowest end of the norm.
During this time I did not drink coffee for a long time, after covid I had no sense of taste, then it was gone, now I am getting used to this norm of my life, more to the extend that it’s a ritual, rather than because it tastes good, or that I need it.
I came to need sweet tea with lemon, while I still had all that. I hadn’t drunk sweet tea since I was a child, but then I drank it when I was poisoned.
A poisoned organism. Sweet tea with lemon. Corvalol with chocolate. Kyiv Military. Maybe someday there will be such sweets.
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv.
After midnight, I lay down on the floor in the hallway, hugged the dog and realized that my ears were ringing. And then I realized that I was afraid of this silence. And silence is also frightening. In these moments you feel the tension of yourself, your home, the sky.
And then you speak to those you know, in Rubizhne, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy region, Kherson region, Mykolayiv region, Mariupol, Kyiv region. First, to those you know by name, you call, you say that you need them, that you need to survive, to say that all relatives in other cities, villages, other countries are constantly thinking about them.
This is probably me being complacent, but maybe someone will try to do the same? Not only at night, but in the morning and during the day.
And then I try to just ask for protection for everyone, regardless of the level of threat.
Because it hurts. Because I’m alive.
The bomb shelter protected the people of Mariupol, Taruta writes that they are dismantling the blockades, people are coming out, God forbid, that these scum have not done something even worse.
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv.
It became difficult to find words to answer the question: how are you? Somewhere inside they are sleeping or just frozen. You will endure until you find an acceptable wording.
However, some stop asking, some continue not to hear, but to speak. There are people who invent various forms of almost round-the-clock support.
There is another special genre: shouting "come on, gather everyone and get out" without much readiness to hear about the circumstances and without at least some specific help. I adore it.
And there is something else: why are you so gloomy. Run, order coffee, it’s shameful to just sit there — you are in the safest city. Not once have the people of Kyiv ever written such a thing to me.
However, there is an impulse to joke — only with certain special people.
People are cut off from communication, warmth, light all over Ukraine in the dark, waiting for rescue, other people — everywhere in evacuation chats, city groups, look at the numbers of relatives hoping to hear at least one word.
People of heroic action, in combat and on the home front — they need to find a moment to remember, to reach out, that the phone is also for responding to "how are you?" Because now their phones are for coordination, for logistics, for victory. Not for emotional service.
Today my mother asked if I regretted becoming a lawyer and writer, and not something else?
I said no, I'm not sorry. But I mentioned that I would like to be a medic, because it is incredibly important in such times as these, or to be good at fighting with weapons.
But it so happens that I write, speak, work with information, and this is so little, so little, that sometimes my heart gives out.
"But you can be with us. Because with the word you can still fight from here, and help us to be happy a little longer," said my mother. It was warm, and true, and painful.
I say: I used to be such a sporty girl, but I turned out to be sort of weak — physically and morally. Mom says: well, I can't imagine how your synchronized swimming and your tennis would help you in these conditions.
I imagined this, laughing. My mother said I should have chosen the biathlon.
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv.
Today is the kind of day when in my peaceful life I go to the cemetery to Anya and Maxim. Maxim passed in 2013, Anya — in 2014, young and wonderful people.
I'll think of you, dear ones. A Kyivan and a Chernihivan.
And about every woman on all the fronts of the Ukrainian fight, defense, diplomacy, information, volunteering, evacuation, food, industry, culture, sports, and more.
And about all the mothers who protect their children.
And about all those whom these invaders and these scumbags block from leaving, warming themselves up, eating, accessing water, getting to a safe place.
Women of Ukraine, you are indescribably strong people.
I postponed this post as long as I could.
You wouldn’t imagine how many questions there are:
— Why aren't you going? Are you still in Kyiv?
— You need to think about yourself! You need to live, you have to!
— Why are you procrastinating? The armored truck will get you all out, you are not the last person, it’s not like you have no connections, we are renting you an apartment in Uzhhorod now, what are you thinking, you’ve doomed your parents to death!
— Kyiv keep getting taken, there will be fights, carpet bombing, there will be no water, housing, heat, light, you will get in the way of the military, have a conscience, you have to get that you don’t have to be Soviet people, leave the city, you’re a burden, you’re not helping.
And they kept giving these comments, giving, giving.
And I understand that most of these cries, requests, appeals to me — they’re out of great love, care, big hearts.
I will not tell you how my day begins. In this country there is so much war, such difficult, horrible, unbearable circumstances.
Just understand, please, one thing: I have never in my life given anyone any of these kinds of reasons to doubt my adequacy.
In fact, everyone who is now, for example, in Kyiv, has their own illusions, makes their own mistakes, takes into account various circumstances, but makes difficult decisions.
A firm will cannot overcome such circumstances.
My parents are 84 years old, even two floors up the stairs for them can turn into falls, heart attacks, and in the first days of the war, to top it all off, I nursed them out of covid.
My father was born in Kyiv, he is physically and psychologically connected with the city, my mother dreamed of Kyiv as a girl, and here she is now, and she gave birth to me here.
There are people who leave their parents to their neighbors, get themselves and their children out. I don't have to get any children out.
My parents sometimes do not quite understand the whole situation, yes, they are scared, and sometimes surprisingly calm, but they have accepted these circumstances and understand where they want to meet death in the worst case scenario.
I respect that. You should try to respect it a little, too.
And I try to do my duty faithfully and honestly. Do I recognize this might be unbearable? Yes. I recognize. Am I pessimistic? It happens, yes.
Within this state, I actually think that I have lived a decent life. It is true that a decent life was and is beneficial for people and for society, and perhaps for the country. What has been done, on the one hand, is insufficient and scant, but on the other hand: there has been a lot and it’s important. This is enough for peace and balance.
Am I scared? Yes, of course. Am I holding on to life? Yes, otherwise I would not have moved my life into the corridor like a bedbug. Do I feel optimistic about the future? Yes, sometimes powerfully, sometimes in the background, but I feel it.
My friend Katya, who has been a protector of all animals since childhood, filled her substantial home zoo with parrots and a guinea pig: "Nobody wanted to take it from the zoo, the chinchillas were separated, and it was sitting there. I didn't want to either, but it has such eyes."
And she is also here with me in Kyiv. And I bought an outfit for a wedding, my godson is getting married, damn these monsters, in April.
We're just here. Here. That's what happened. Try to accept it, okay? Hugs.
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv.
My eyes are dry, when you blink gingerly, quietly, as if you’re afraid you’ll put your foot on something crunchy. It seems that one movement — and something will break.
In the messengers you check whether your messages were seen by those who are now blocking the enemy’s path to you and your city with their bodies and the bodies of their cities: no changes, the messengers are quiet, therefore, hell continues. The whole body presses into the heart and peels it. Peeling, Goddess, as to the side of the heroic Mykolaiv.
Every day still contains elements of normal life. Now I'm thinking about coffee: I haven't tried it since covid, that transitioned to war. Maybe it's worth it? While it, and I, and everything is quiet, although there’s the air alarm, still the Armed Forces, still the air defense — I bow.
You understand that some people have already written the same messages, said goodbye to you, and you understand that looking at you is really emotionally exhausting, because you are in a city that is black, and that person is safe, but they have their own challenges there, they need to somehow build a life.
Sometimes I don't have the strength to speak and to answer the question "how are you?" Because there are different norms of this "how am I": there are Kyiv, Bucha, Mykolaiv, Genichesk, Okhtyrka, Borodyanka, Kakhovka, Mariupol, Chernihiv norms. Well, it's not about your human condition, it's you and what's around you.
It's hard to explain, and it's not easy to do emotionally soothing work for so many people who need it. And, probably, it happens that I sound inadequate and without my inherent friendliness, but the resources I have go to those close to me.
The night is over, it was calm, sometimes you get caught up in the transparent silence, your ears ring from it. I want a normal peaceful voice.
12th day of ruthless, insidious, hateful war.
My mother is deaf in one ear and half-deaf in the other. She’s always been nervous and worried.
At the age of 70, she was forced to leave the school because she did not trust herself. An English teacher: "Larochka, how can I work if my age prevents my ears from distinguishing and paying attention to pronunciation!"
Now she says, "What, anxiety? What, explosions? That’s just what has to happen. I don't hear anything. Imagine, I can even sleep and think that they should all ‘go to hell,’ that they should breathe their last."
+3 and a funny dog. Kyiv. Air alarm.
I will share with you the heaviness in my heart: the night was, from the point of view of my corridor, calm, but I know what, and most importantly who, provided that.
Many of my friends are now leaving the capital, they are refugees, and this entails many difficulties, unthinkable ones, unjust ones. I wish you security and warm welcome, wherever you are now.
I can't get rid of the guilt of the privileged resident of the capital, who realizes that we are strongly protected, and we succeed.
But, my dear people of the Kyiv suburbs, Trostyanets, Sumy, Chernihiv, Skadovsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, God, living pain, Kharkiv, Okhtyrka, Mariupol, Volnovakha — I feel boundless gratitude for your endurance, pain for the fact that we have more protection, feelings of helplessness, happiness when I hear that you are alive, not occupied, not in captivity, that you have the strength to survive, the anger, life.
I love you very much.
I sang "Not dead yet" with a striking awareness of meaning: I’m not dead yet. Me and my parents and a funny dog. And my city Kyiv and the country.
For the first time during this time I fell asleep longer, I even had a dream. A dream! A little miracle of a peaceful life. I wanted to remember it so badly, but I still can't remember. Thank you to all the heavenly forces and, above all, to the Armed Forces and the territorial defenders for being here where I am.
Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, with people, small and large, who are exhausted but not subdued, with victorious people, so the place is buzzing.
Ivankiv with its destroyed national symbols — paintings by folk artist Maria Prymachenko — causes just physical pain. But — like the mothers with their hastily gathered children in bomb shelters, old women, whose bronchi are stitched with these enemy bullets, because the basement is not the place for our parents.
Air alarm again, we hold the Kyiv sky, dear ones.
I never thought I would write this.
That I wake up not from the smell of coffee, not from a kiss, not from the fact that the children are stirring, not from the whining of puppies, not from anxiety, not from the alarm clock, not from fresh air, not from the lament of sickles, but from explosions.
Dear sisters and brothers, we hold on, we help each other, more mercy, less aggression and nerves, we unite, with faith in us and faith in God.
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