It's been a month since the full-scale war broke out.
My Mum's early phone call woke me up. My mother told me that war broke out. I was incredulous at first -- I'm used to checking everything by myself. Hung up on her, opened my work chats and reliable channels -- and nearly jumped out of my skin. The night before, my colleagues and I were on our balcony discussing what would be if there was a war. And here we had it -- the war.
On the first day of the war, fear crept over me at some point. It was really creepy to stay at home listening to wailing outside -- the faintly audible wail of the sirens. Cannonade in Hostomel was far more clearly audible than the local sirens. I was writing about orcs who have taken control of the Chornobyl nuke plant. Then after an imaginary conversation reminded me that I used to film on Donbas and all that mess started back then and there, by and large. Fear loosened its grip. Only rage and will to do my job were left. My mother was calling and with the tears in her eyes was begging me to leave. I didn't.
Today it has been a month without a day since I left my home.
On the second day of the war, a group of diversionists entered our district. And the low sounds of explosions in Hostomel I used to hear were replaced by gunshots in the neighborhood. Carefully, I pulled out my phone from beneath the curtain to somehow record the sound. That video is still stored on my phone. Then I sent a message to Sashko: "we have local troubles here in my district", and he persuaded me to move to a safer place. I was working and packing my things at the same time. I thought that a weekly supply of staff will be enough. I was totally wrong. I took all the necessities, packed my cats, and upon my Mum's advice -- a multi-cooker (dear Mum, you were more than right about it is awesome!) I was wandering around my apartment gazing at all the unexceptional things: scratched wallpapers; a kettle with a faulty button I fixed with the duct tape; the wall to be decorated with the IKEA shelving rack and for me to create a one-wall bookcase for my dream at last (my books and comics were jostling for space on my shelves and gradually taking it up). It felt as if I were leaving my apartment for good. When I went outside, the air-raid warning was still on. I had to hold on. As soon as it was over, I drew across half of the city. I was leaving the Harbour Bridge, Khreshchatyk, and other streets behind. Surprisingly empty, surprisingly cold streets. The sun was gradually dying and by the time I had to carry my belongings, the dusk had set. It didn't occur to me then that it would be my dwelling for the whole next month. On the third week of the war, I saw a dream: I was wandering around my yard, picking up the remaining books and the printed snaps of my cats I wasn't able to hang on my wall. Had no time for that. And when it hits my district, I always look at the map -- lest it hit my home. All the same picture from my dream.
When I moved into a new place, made myself sort of shelter -- away from windows, there I placed cat carriers and my armored vest -- for everything to be at hand. On my first night in the bomb shelter -- I almost had to stay awake throughout the night: my older cat got agitated, and I took him to sleep with me in my sleeping bag. He was terrified and spent the restless night crawling on me, while I was whispering something soothing, caressing him, and hugging him.
Today, three and a half weeks have passed since I changed my occupation and turned into a field journalist out of an investigator.
If you can do something at the site -- don't sit idle. Unearthed my camera and after a long break took up shooting. With the passing of the first 24-hour curfew, when we spent a few evening hours sitting in the darkness listening to the sounds of gunfire and hunting for the diversionists, we went on our first sortie to Beresteiska underground station, one of the first buildings to become a target. Then -- to Bucha, by a strike of a mysterious journalist's luck, we hit a "gap" and could shoot a burnt column. Then the orcs returned to Bucha and turned it into hell on earth. Then again, and again, and again.
There wasn't a single day without them targeting Kyiv. I woke up at 7 (painfully, as I am not an early bird) and pondered when on earth they would bite the dust and put sufferings to an end. The first thing in the morning is to scroll through the news and look through chats. Day in, day out we set out in the morning, I work on snapshots and write in the evening. Sometimes I make myself write: too much pain to endure, sometimes I was just overwhelmed with the desire to bury my face in the sleeping bag and switch my mind off. I was mentally recounting the daily changes Kyiv was undergoing -- growing number of checkpoints, obstacle defense, personnel. I've always been bad at news coverage. I would have never made up the stories the war makes for us to get through. I wouldn't have dreamt them in the worst of nightmares.
The war stripped your fellow man -- those who turned out to be quite different people. As well as those who provided their firm shoulder to lean on and a sympathetic ear, and to whom you, too, lent your support. For if you keep all of it to yourself, sooner or later the mind waves goodbye and sets out to the cloud-cuckoo-land with no return ticket. And life has changed — decisions come easier, conversations with people -- too, as well as feeling. It's just crying that comes through effort. Maybe, crying hasn't been my strong side yet.
I want my eyes to become the eyes of thousands of people, for them to see and hear what I can see and hear. And as long as I can do my job -- I won't cease doing it. Right now, the dream I had at the outbreak of war comforts me: I see myself standing at the beach near Sudak, as I did back in the autumn 15 years ago. And I am welcoming the rising sun. The sunrise is Ukrainian once again. As are comforting the people I come across on my way, they're ready to give everything, -- their lives, their health, their efforts, their rest, their last things -- for us to win victory. And victory we will win.
My hugs to you all.
March 24th, 10:53 am
Ukrainian Text by Liubomyra Remazhevska. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Mar 31, 2022