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15 one-line stories from Bucha.

A village called Yablunka used to be here. Later, a railway station looking like a knight’s castle was built. Then, the mass construction of dachas began. It was no wonder, there are living ponds, pines, chirping of nightingales and finches all around. Lilac and jasmine bushes, the air saturated with phytoncides, no fogs.

Back in the day, there were relaxed conversations about summer, fishing, and hunting. Now in Bucha people are talking about something completely different:

— On February 24 I started smoking.

— My son (5 years old) could not poop during the entire occupation. He would sit down on the potty, then hear the explosions, and instantly jump up, “Mommy, I’d better do it tomorrow.”

— When we were driving through the green corridor, a Russian with human features stopped us. He glanced into our car, saw the kids and asked to take a crying on the sideline child with us.

— We had put a used baby’s nappy on the car instead of a white sheet. The youngest one turned ten days old on the day of evacuation.

— Sklozavodska Street got renamed the Road of Death.

— My neighbour would come every day out of the basement and clean the windows at home to keep herself sane. We asked her not to do that because they would get broken anyway. She would clutch her teeth even harder, saying that the windows must be clean.

— We are safe now, but I can not leave the room even for a second. My daughter grasps my feet and starts crying. So we walk like Siamese twins now.

— My uncle had been taken into captivity. He returned three days later and has not uttered a word since.

— The tanks moved through playgrounds. They drove into yards, crashing fences, gates, and mailboxes.

— Gun bursts are the scariest to hear. It meant only one thing: the civilians were being shot.

— I have been working at school for my whole life, and I know where there are children, there is also laughter and noise. But in the basement, they were dead silent. Children were sitting with aged faces.

— On the first day of the war, I went to the market. I wanted to buy pork, a dozen eggs. Suddenly, the roar of the aircraft began to grow. One of the sellers made a joke that some oligarchs were trying to escape to the Emirates. At that very moment, bombs rained down on the Hostomel airport. That really terrified me.

— The biggest happiness was lighting a candle and immersing in a book. I found a novel called Angélique and the King in the basement.

— Some people were driving cars, others were walking. Some women were hugging newborns and humming. Lullabies, probably…

— After two weeks, Vitia (the name was changed) was taken into captivity. He was giving the enemies’ coordinates to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I would go with grandpa every day to the headquarters and get down on my knees, asking them to free his grandson. They would wave us off: “Calm down, woman.” After a while, they killed grandpa. The “fascist” did not like that he came wearing camouflage pants. When Bucha got liberated, people started to take out the bodies of tortured prisoners. I came for identification. My dear Vitia did not have his reproductive organs and fingers. For two days I was screaming, today I cooked some borscht. Then I sat near the window, waiting. Grandpa with his grandson should be back any minute…

Iryna Hovorukha

April 6 at 7:39 p.m.

Read the original text here

Russian Text by Iryna Hovorukha, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Apr 14, 2022

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