The main thing is not to go crazy because the unknown is scarier than bombs. His name is Lyosha and he’s still there. He could have left, but refused at point-blank. Because his children stayed in this city. The day before we left, he came to our basement and brought food because we no longer came out of the shelter.
Then the main food was buckwheat filled with water. We waited for it to swell, and then hardly swallowed two spoonfuls. Children had to be forced. There was no salt or taste in this porridge. Lyosha brought us porridge too, but with pieces of stew. He and his sister’s family lived in their parents’ house.
It was then that I promised him, “If I survive, I will definitely write about you.” He said, “What are you talking about? You will definitely survive.”
We came to this house to leave our dog. It was very scary to go down from the fifth floor and walk her twice a day. We never made it to the curfew because there was heavy shelling. And going down the stairs was gruesome.
For a few days, we struggled with the nightmarish horror and gave up. We put a leash on Angie and went to a beautiful two-storey house where our friends live. First, we left the dog there, then came ourselves.
We had lived there for more than a week. Until there was a direct hit to the roof and the two-story mansion burned down. I named this house Noah’s Ark. The owners: Maxim and Natasha hosted everyone, fed and warmed. They shared the food supplies equally, and there were getting more and more people.
On the ground floor, in the hall, under the stairs, there were 28 people. We even had a Madonna and Child in the basement. My friend’s daughter was with a boy, born on March 1.
We practically did not go up above stairs. It was dangerous there. Only in the mornings, after terrible nights buzzing from mines and shells we run to look out the window at the flag on a tall building in the city centre. It was important for us to know that the blue-yellow one is still flying over Mariupol.
In the ark, we could even charge our phones. First from the generator, then from the cars. When the Kyivstar [a Ukrainian mobile provider — Ed.] connection appeared near one of the houses, it was like a real holiday.
Under the howling and rumbling of shells, those who still had charged phones called relatives and friends in other cities. It was impossible to call somebody who was in Mariupol.
For the first time in a week, I called up my son, who is hundreds of kilometres away from this hell. He started shouting, “Mom, are you alive? Is everyone alive?” I didn't know what exactly people in other cities knew about Mariupol and started telling him that we were being bombed, shelled with rockets, killed.
Then several men came up to me and asked me to find out how things were going in other cities. People didn’t have any information at all. They lived in a vacuum.
The guy in a work jacket kept asking, “Is Kyiv ours, Ukrainian?” My son said that everything was fine, that we were fighting, that the enemy was suffering losses. I repeated every word. The guy raised his fists and shook them at the buzzing plane above us. At that moment, for some reason, it was not scary. At that moment, it seemed that all the bad things would end very soon.
And then they began to pour Grads and rockets on our heads. It was impossible to leave the house. Only Lyosha kept searching for information. He looked for a stable Internet connection and downloaded news. We read them all together in the Ark.
He left in the morning after the night attacks. To visit the children in another city area. To be honest, I thought he wouldn’t come back. 15 kilometres on foot and under shelling.
But he came a day later. It was a miracle.
March 19, 7:57 am
Russian Text by Nadezhda Sukhorukova, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 26, 2022