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The moments of happiness

The war, day 30.

The moments of happiness.

This lovely chubby boy’s name is Ivan. On March 16, he turned four months.

Vanka [diminutive form of “Ivan” — Ed.] met a small and at the same time a big age in the dark basement of one of the buildings in the Prymorsky District of Mariupol.

Like many other Mariupol residents (and Ukrainians in general), Ivan’s parents thought that the ruscist [Russian fascist — Ed.] attack on the city would end quickly. Like many others, they decided not to leave the city, which will soon become a hero. Since August 2014 Mariupol has been accustomed to constant noise from the east — sometimes it’s louder, sometimes it’s quieter. So it was here — there was a lot of fuss in the first days after February 24, and then there seemed to be a lull. Why leave?

But it is impossible to predict the actions of the occupying psychopaths.

Within a few days, mobile connection, water and electricity, and a little later gas were lost. The shelling did not just intensify — the ruscists began to violently destroy the city, which in the last three years had become more beautiful than ever.

Prymorsky District was more or less lucky, compared to the Left Bank, the city center, Azovstal, it was shelled a little less. But here, too, ruscist planes dropped several bombs, and the ground around was in funnels from artillery shells.

Ivan’s parents with other residents periodically came out of the dark shelters. After spending the night there, their nostrils were black with dust and soot. Vanka’s daily routine has changed. Not understanding when it was day and when it was night, the boy slept at random, exhausting himself, his parents, and neighbors in the basement.

People from the surrounding houses gathered together, lit fires, prepared food together which they had stored in advance and brought from the nearest shops. Vanka had an advantage: fortunately, his mother always had breast milk. At least it was possible not to bother with heating the mixture over an open flame.

On March 17, some rumors were brought by the word of mouth: people were trying to drive in their cars to the nearest village and then go towards Berdiansk and Zaporizhzhia. It turned out that the “green corridor” is very close. Ivan’s parents’ car was running, only after the explosion, a brick break its windshield. But compared to the deformed, mutilated, and burned cars around, it was like a gift of fate.

They grabbed some things in a hurry and a cart and jumped in the car: dad, mom, Vanka, grandma, and their cat. They passed an endless route out of town. And then every kilometer there were checkpoints. And at each of them, the Russians meticulously checked the documents — as if something could change a kilometer away.

Late in the evening, on the remnants of fuel, the family arrived in Dnipro, where their close friends, also from Mariupol, have already rented an apartment.

The basement dirt was washed off of Vanka, and his clothes were changed into clean ones. His mother was able to quickly adjust to the new way of life — with the help of natural positive flexibility, a sense of humor, and sincerity. And along with her, her son calmed down too. The normal change of light and darkness normalized his sleep.

The clean and warm child again began to lick his fists up to his elbows with pleasure and to laugh when his father whirls him in the air.

Only his grandparents on his mother’s side have not gotten in touch with them yet. Recently, a group of people left one of the Left Bank shelters but did not go towards the occupying positions through which they could evacuate to uncontrolled territory but to their own house. What’s up with them now is still unknown.

But Vanka is not worried about them yet. After all, he is only a four-month-old baby. And also, he is my nephew, who I held in my arms for the first time today.

We did not meet in Kyiv, where I have lived for a long time. Not in Mariupol, where my sister always lived.

But we have met. Little eyes to eyes. Little palms to big palms. Toothless smile to a bearded smile.

Live happily, our lovely boy.

We will do everything possible for it to happen.

March 25 at 11:14 p.m.

Ukrainian Text by Yevhen Shyshatskyi. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 30, 2022

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