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Irpin flashbacks

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Yesterday, I took off my tights for the first time in 12 days. I thought I would tear them off together with my flesh, as I’ve already experienced something similar happening to my heart recently. But surprisingly, the body is so tough that nothing sticks to it now. Even blood. We spent 10 days under the siege. 2 km from Makarov. In one of the most infernal places in Ukraine, which is ruthlessly torn apart all this time. Without light, heat, water, communication. Almost no news. Yesterday, when we went crazy and just drove across the field under the attack of the combat vehicle «Grad», I started reading and watching the news. I knew only 10 percent of it by the text messages from my relatives, and some I got on the radio when I could listen to it… Just like Lila from “The Fifth Element”, I saw all the horrors of war in an instant. I was reading for 5 hours and was watching my country and the town of my dreams Irpin being destroyed to ashes. I lived in that town happily for 4 years, and my whole life is still there. In 10 days of the siege, I learned more than I did in a decade – about myself, about people, about what is really important to survive. I’ll tell you. It might be useful for somebody, and someone may feel at least a little of what we are experiencing now and will finally close that cursed sky above us… As we see, despite the fierce love, all the mothers’ wings and bodies turned out to be very fragile and for some reason, they do not stop the bullets and shells that fly into our children… On the first day of the war, we managed to take our child and mother to my husband’s parents – to a small, picturesque village between Borodianka and Makarov. The next day – we were able to return to Bucha to take the pets, under the bullets so far. And in addition to the kindergarten, we arranged a zoo in the village – with two dogs, two cats and a parrot. On the third day, we managed to bring some diesel fuel and products to the maternity hospital in Vozrel, because there were 6 young mothers left there and the whole team and the whole maternity hospital with the backup generator only. The next day, as far as I know, it was captured by the Russian military … I don’t know if that is really true though. I still can’t get in touch with the head of that hospital… As soon as we returned, we were blocked from all the exits – Russians started attacking, they began shelling. There is no reliable information about the length of the Russian convoys, but we could hear the horrifying rumble of the roads for about 2 hours even in the shelter. And it happened so three times. And that’s what I learned in the siege. I learned that if you just look at a column of tanks, one of them will turn around and just shoot you, as was the case with the three neighbours on our street. I learned that if you try to take the children out through the Russian troops, you will be turned into minced meat, as was the case with the family from the neighbouring village. I learned that if you’re looking at a candle in a cold, damp shelter for 5 hours in a row, you can stop the cry of horror and rage inside you and feel calmer, but you will still get sick anyway. I learned how to make pads from diapers carefully left by my grandmother after her youngest grandson. I learned that it takes a missile from that combat vehicle Grad from 6 to 14 seconds to land somewhere after the launch (depending on the distance) and sometimes, if you try hard, you can have time to go to the toilet while they are flying. I learned that true blackout is not just turning off the lights everywhere, but learning to pour water into the glass for a child in complete darkness and by the sound to determine how full the cup is. I learned how to make a candle from the remains of paraffin and oiled paper and that ordinary church candles burn in just 25 minutes. I learned how to wash a child, myself, my husband, wash clothes, wash the floor and flush the toilet, all with the same water. I learned how to fix the phone on the ceiling light, so that in the seconds when there is some connection, I could send the precious message about the change of the location of the Russian invaders. I learned how to come up with a game in the shelter that boost the morale not only of children but also of all adults. I learned how to talk to the kid about the war so that he would eat, sleep, be calm and be convinced that he himself could destroy 50 tanks. I learned what it’s like to choose between leaving parents in danger, because their home is there and they are not ready to leave it and taking the child out of this danger, because he must have all his future ahead. As you can see, I have gained a lot of very “valuable” knowledge for the 21st century. I really will never forget it. And I will not forgive it. I did not learn only one thing – what to say to a child who constantly asks in the basement every day – Mom, what do these tanks want from us? I truly don’t know. I will write this post in both Russian and English languages. Separately. Because it came out long and I don’t know how to erase something from that experience. If this tiny step takes us a little bit forward to closing the sky or can support someone, please share it. In the photo, my three-year-old son is sleeping soundly in a cold, terrible shelter, and you can see the same candle that saved me from going crazy.

Translated into English by Dasha Osipova

March 8, 2022 – 07:22

Yesterday was a day of little and big joys. We don’t have the strength to feel them to the fullest, but we are trying.

First, I bought new tights. And a hat! I didn’t have a hat all this time and how cold it was… I took the last one from the showcase, I still can’t completely scrap the 90 UAH price tag off it, but it is the best hat I’ve ever had. I look like a sausage in it.

Taras spent some time outside for the first time since the beginning of the war. At the playground. Moreover, with his brothers. How much has he waited for this… To say that he was happy is to say nothing at all.

I had some coffee. From the coffee shop. Delicious. The air alarm started, I had to run to the shelter, but it is apparently much easier to experience it with coffee. 

And the greatest joy of the day – my husband’s parents have also managed to escape from that hell. There are so many feelings that it is impossible to write properly yet.

Now the main task is to restore even and deep breathing and sleep. This is still a problem. But no worries. It will come. We were sheltered by an absolutely adorable elderly lady. I hope I can write about her separately. Many thanks to all the good people for their support. It is very unexpected, nice, valuable yet embarrassing…

Ukrainian Text by Oksana Tunik. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – March 11, 2022

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