Journalists are mostly not allowed in Novi Petrivtsi now — the village is regularly shelled by the Russian occupiers. Recently, they hit there a gas station, and before that — residential buildings. Novi Petrivtsi is only 15 kilometers from Kyiv, so there are serious and furious guys on that road.
The locals immediately show, where the house which was heavily damaged by shelling is. Or rather, not the house — but what is left of it. A ruin.
A man is rummaging in the yard. He is gathering things scattered around the yard and putting them carefully in big bags. In the bags, there are mostly children’s things, books, toys. Inside the house, there is a mess. Well, half the house just does not exist. The sofa, covered with building structures, still retains traces of those who lived here — overturned clothes, a few scattered toys. On this sofa, when a shell hit the yard, the mother-in-law of the owner of the house, Oleg, was dozing. Shortly before that, she put some bread in the oven, and it is still there. The shock wave injured her with the wreckage, one piece got deep into her body.
His wife and young daughter were saved by the door. The eldest son’s room suffered the least.
But all of this is overshadowed by what the owner himself has experienced. He lost his son. The boy was only 2.5 years old. His parents called him “Potselunchyk”. [“A little kiss” — Ed.]
Oleg says that every morning his son ran to the parents and asked them to kiss his 3-month-old sister, Alisa.
Because of the war, Oleg had to bury his son himself.
At first, he did not want to talk about his experience, but after a cigarette, he told his story.
“He was pulled from the wreckage with a thready pulse, but he was not put in the ambulance because he died on the spot from his injuries.
Bogdan, I don’t know his last name, is the man who was the senior that shift, he organized a coffin, wooden cross, all the necessary things to bury the child. My wife’s sister came to the house, took the clothes to dress my son. I had to wash my child, because he was all in the dust, in the remnants of sand, to get him dressed, to put him in a coffin, to drive a car to go to the cemetery. We arrived at the cemetery around 1 pm. There was a priest, some neighbors, honestly, I don’t even know. Just among my wife’s relatives, there was her sister, and… we have buried my son.”
While we are writing this, I do not notice how I bite my lip to the blood. And when the man starts crying and his eldest son hugs him, I ask my colleague not to film it. Because in this grief we are superfluous. And we want to leave faster because we hardly have any words to say. There is nothing that could compensate for this.
Just listen to this man. I have no more words.
Ukrainian Text by Liubomyra Remazhevska. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 28, 2022