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A quiet moment

A quiet moment. After a crazy day, with me being a bundle of nerves and two air raid sirens that are so particularly worrisome for children, there is this temporary quiet. It’s so deep, I can hear the clock ticking.

It didn’t do that before. It’s digital, you see. There were just bright digits, pouring their greenish glow into the night darkness of the kitchen. Yes, it’s placed in the kitchen. Still, I can hear it while sitting in the living room. Weird stuff.

Yesterday brought in a lot of weirdness too. Vitya arrived to get his order. During peacetime, he’s a surgeon with thin, almost feminine fingers. I was looking at his hands today — so unusually large, weathered, the skin all chapped and peeling around the fingernails with grease and motor oil collected under them… How peculiarly they allocate people at recruiting stations: a surgeon-mortar gunner.

After that, Sashko came for tourniquets and bandages. During peacetime, this one’s a music teacher. A man with the most sensitive of souls. One time, we were walking together with children at Staryi Park, and a tiny featherless baby crow fell from its nest to the ground right before us. Sashko fainted. He also fainted twice during labor companionship. Finally, I remember the time we went to the Divochi Skeli, where this gentle spirit tripped over a stone and got himself a bloodied knee… Now, Sashko evacuated people from Irpin, provided first aid, and once even dragged wounded soldiers out of a windbreak at night.

“You know, I’m such a cynical bastard now. We were picking up those casualties, both ours and theirs, after a fight. Our fellas bite the bullet, keeping it quiet, waiting for the painkiller to kick in. Those guys… they squeal. Remember Uncle Andrei when he butchered a pig? That kind of noise. Take this: they ain’t getting no painkillers from me. So, there was this major or some kind of Kadyrovite dog among them. I had to dress his open wound, after which I turned and immediately started tending to another Kadyrovite scumbag. I didn’t notice at first this second one had a loop of intestine hanging out of his belly, but then I just kind of bandaged it along…”

Also, I know Lesia. She’s a Christian ethics teacher…

“To Hell with them! Cursed be their children, so they won’t see the light of day! Damn you! Let the earth swallow them all! Let their blood boil with fever!”

“Lesia, you’re… cursing.”

“Oh, stop it. It’s not sinful to curse the cursed.”

And later… A true miracle. We saw storks flying. So low, it seemed they could almost touch treetops with their wings. While the sun was setting over the horizon — a dark thing smudged with streaks of red — shining on the stork’s wings.

“Mom, the storks are just like our flag!” Zaiko said.

I didn’t quite get him at first, and only a closer look made me understand: illuminated by the sun, passing us overhead, were red-and-black storks. [A red-and-black flag is a symbol of Ukrainian liberation struggle — Ed.]

Yet another sign, yet another confirmation: Ukraine is fighting. And all the powers of land and sky are fighting alongside us.

Tomorrow is the spring equinox, and the day after tomorrow is our forefathers’ Easter, which will bring more sun, light, and warmth. And even more fight and work. More hope, love, kindness, and faith in our Victory.

For now, though, it’s quiet. I’m listening to the clock ticking. Waiting for good news. Also, my mind is wandering…

I have a friend named Zukhra who lives in Crimea. As a child, she often cried because of the bullies. They made fun of her surname, Bayraktarova; they called her Tractor. She got married at 16 for the first time. Just to change her surname to Ivanova. Later, she was Sydorova and Semenova. She ended up as Nikolaieva.

So, my wandering mind arrives at this: probably, Zukhra is getting a divorce once more. Now, to take back her maiden surname…

Sweet good morning to you, my Ukraine!

It’s Spring! And they say that our artillery guys got us some fresh snowdrops at Chornobaivka :)

March 20 at 4:35 a.m.

Ukrainian Text by Liubov Burak, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 30, 2022

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