War… Soon it will be a month since this horror began. The horror not only for me but for all Ukrainians.
Now I will tell you how it was for me, and how it still is.
February 23. The last day of peace. My mother, my godmother, and I went to the center of Kyiv. I remember I made a joke, something like “let’s go for a walk, in case something happens.”
At the Universytet metro station, we saw two buses with the military — that was the first hint.
All this time in the center of the city there was a constant feeling of anxiety. I think my mother already realized everything then, but not me.
We went to the Khanenko Museum for the exhibition of Durer engravings. The red room, dozens of gloomy, slightly frightening images.
Then we went to a café. Mom said, “Order whatever you want, I don’t know when we will eat in a café next time.” I ordered peasant potatoes, which I had eaten hundreds of times in my life. But this one was special — my last pre-war potatoes.
I remember how that evening we drove home on the loud Khreshchatyk Street, and I was so happy about it. Now I would be scared to death of those loud noises.
I was shooting a vlog that day. I usually edit the video the day after shooting it. But something came over me, so I decided to edit and post the vlog on YouTube the same night.
It wasn’t a good night. I couldn’t sleep for a long time, and then I dreamt that I was sitting in my room when I heard explosions, and my dad said, “Pack your things, we’re under attack.” I woke up at about 3 a.m. and I was scared, really scared. But it was just the beginning.
And at 5 a.m. I woke up again because of the first explosions, saw my anxious parents who tried to hide that they were scared.
I went up to my mom and asked, “What happened?” I was sure I was going to hear, “Maiia, go to bed, it’s just a thunderstorm.” But I heard the most horrible words of my life, “The war has started again…” I couldn’t believe that what I had read about in history books was now actually happening.
The first thing I thought of was my friends. Now all my friends from Kyiv are scattered across the globe. Maria is in Spain, Sonia is in the Czech Republic. Dania — I don’t know where he is, but I know he’s safe now.
During that one day, I read so much news, I had never read that much of it in my life.
I spent the next night in the bomb shelter with Masha and our parents. A few more nights in the bomb shelter. And then Irpin was bombed, our friends live there too. Lived there. Now they are somewhere in the western part of Ukraine. Irpin was a beautiful city.
All this time I lived like this: news, news, ask the closest people to me “How are you?”, news, bomb shelter, home. Horrible, it’s truly horrible. Kharkiv, Irpin, Mariupol, Bucha, Lviv, Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and many other cities. There are the cities that have been hit. As I am writing this, my hands are trembling…
I hope it will end soon, and soon everyone will be writing about our Ukrainian victory.
My friends will come home, and we will enjoy every moment of peace!
The war has changed us, now every quiet night makes me happy, every message with the text “I am OK, and you?”, every day lived through, a day lived through in Kyiv, in Ukraine. I am home.
Often people ask me, “What will you do first when the war is over?” Often I answer, “I don’t even know, I have to think about it.”
I thought about it. I will celebrate my birthday, it was on November 10. I’ll meet my friends. I’ll walk along Khreshchatyk. I will travel with my parents. And I will never put anything off again.
I will do it all. And next time when I’d want to see Durer’s engravings won’t be soon, although, of course, it’s not Durer’s fault.
Maiia Kryhel, 12 years old, schoolgirl
Ukrainian Text by Maiia Kryhel, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Apr 1, 2022