If we hadn’t left this morning, we would have been gone. I would, at least, for sure. There were fewer people in our basement. They were leaving. There were rumours that many escaped from these circles of hell. But these were rumours. No one could check. Our basement neighbours disappeared one by one. As soon as someone found gasoline or friends with a car. No one said goodbye, no one packed up. They just abandoned everything and ran to the exit.
By that night, more than half of the basement compartments were empty. Our neighbours were also going to leave. They were stopped by bombing. Aircraft flew every half hour. I think there were several of them. Because they used to drop two bombs each. And now the earth was shaking four, sometimes six times in five minutes. They bombed us with all their might, as if they wanted to bury every house, every tree in the ground, trample every soul into a huge funnel.
We haven’t slept for several days. Rather, our condition could be called half-asleep. The day merged with the night, the eyes constantly stuck together, but the body was alert. According to probability theory, our house should have been hit soon. They’ve already hit all the high-rise buildings around. Some of them had halves left.
I didn’t know if there were people in the basements. And if they were there, what did they feel? I felt almost nothing. It seemed to me that there was really nothing. That I’m having a nightmare. I need to wake up. Soon I will open my eyes in my bed and take a shower and drink tea.
And then the giant rattled the iron. He was walking on my land again. This sound before the start of the shelling was maddening. There was an impression that they were moving something metallic, huge and scary. What could it be?
I was starting to fall into a stupor. I was afraid to move. I sat on a chair, stared blankly at the concrete floor with broken plaster, and thought that this was forever. I didn’t care. I wanted it to end quickly. There was no toilet in the basement. Everyone went to their apartment. I had to go up to the fifth floor. I couldn’t bring myself to move. I needed to get out of the basement and get into the entrance. I didn’t have the courage to do it anymore.
My little nephews were lying on someone else’s mattresses, covered with blankets, in jackets, hats, scarves and shoes. There was an Azerbaijani family here before us. They have 11 children. They left the city a week ago. They are said to have reached a safe place. The information came from another basement when our neighbour in the compartment ventured outside to heat water on the fire. Then there was a little respite. They didn’t shell for fifteen minutes.
I felt terribly sorry for the children. They hardly spoke. No one was talking. We listened to the aircraft. They flew very close and threw endless bombs.
The ground was vibrating, the house was shaking, someone in the basement was screaming in fear. I hardly imagined what was out there. It seemed to me that the house was standing in the centre of the explosions. Everything was in craters and bomb fragments. When I saw in the morning what was left of our yard, I didn’t have a single emotion. I just stood there and watched. It wasn’t my city.
According to the volunteers, 20 to 40 thousand people left the city. Now about 300 thousand citizens remain in Mariupol. They continue to be killed. Please tell the whole world about it. People want to live.
March 19, 15:47
Russian Text by Nadezhda Sukhorukova, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 26, 2022