My neighbor said that God has left Mariupol. She was scared of everything she saw. She assumed this a week ago, and the day before yesterday, just before we left, she ran to our basement with a message that the second house next to us was on fire. "That fire has some strange orange flame," she said. "I've never seen anything like this. Pray, girls"
We didn't know then that in half an hour we would leave this city and this reality. So we prayed. I was reading paternoster and for some reason, I forgot the words. My husband taught me this prayer. I haven't seen him since the beginning of the war. I am guilty before him. I went to my mom, and then I couldn't come to him. I really want to hear his voice. I want another little chance to say the most important words. For some reason, I did not say, while mobile telephone network worked.
Every day in Mariupol we waited for everything to improve. We believed that the war was about to end and everything would be just the way it was. Just a week ago, we were able to get out on the street. One day, between the bombings, we went to the Red Cross on Torgovaya Street. My friend's daughter recently gave birth to a son. His name was Nikita, and he lived in the basement. We hardly took him outside because of the shelling, and the week-old child did not see the sun at all.
For his sake, we went in a friend's car with the inscription "Children". This inscription did not protect from anything. On the way, we saw a car with the same inscription, just crashed and burned. A shell hit it, and it was standing in the right lane. It was very scary to move through the city. But some houses were still intact. The maternity hospital has not yet been destroyed, my colleague's husband has not died, and lonely passers-by walked the streets in our area.
The street where our destination was didn't exist anymore. Only ruins were there. Instead of a large store, there is a huge pit. There is not a single undamaged building next to it. I couldn't recognize this part of the city. The people who dismantled the rubble said that an air bomb had fallen here the day before. The guys from the Red Cross were collecting glass. The girl was surprisingly calm and answered my question "How are you?" with "Everything is fine" and smiled. It was so weird. We haven't smiled in days.
There was no baby formula or diapers there. We were told that it was transferred to the maternity hospital. We decided that we would go there tomorrow. The daughter of a friend said that the chief of the department is an amazing person. He, his doctors, and nurses lived there 24/7, and did not go home. Firstly, it was dangerous, and secondly, there was no replacement. And women were giving birth. Without light and water, in a cold maternity hospital and under bombing. When the food ran out there, the doctors began to give their supplies to the women in labor. Everything they had. The head doctor brought sandwiches made of cheese and sausage. There was no bread. There was simply no place to buy it. Nothing could be bought at all. At first, the shops were closed, then they were robbed.
There was not a single drugstore. They were robbed too. My heart pills were running out, and a harsh alternative loomed ahead. To die from a shell or cardiac arrest. I didn't really like either. An unknown woman helped. A neighbor of our friends. Her name seems to be Lena. She gave me some of her medicines. For free.
When people ran out of water, it snowed, then it rained. Mom used to say, "Nature helps us." The shooting in our area was not so intense then, that's why some neighbors cooked food on a campfire while others stood with buckets under the drainpipes.
We were still talking to each other back then. And I found out that water was brought to the corner of one of the streets every day from the city water utility. An ordinary Mariupol citizen carried it in a huge barrel on his own initiative. He came every day, and then stand under shelling and fills people's cylinders with free drinking water. People periodically run away from there when Russians shoot hard, and it becomes dangerous, they swear with each other for a place in the line, and the water carrier silently fills their cylinders.
I do not know the name of this man, and I hope he gets out of hell alive. Because I really want him to read these lines and hear my thanks, which I didn't have time to tell him then.
March 18 at 5:05
Russian Text by Nadezhda Sukhorukova, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 26, 2022