When I come back, I will wash my windows monthly — slowly rub every pane, down to the last speck of dust, because they are mine, and I will lovingly care for them. When I come back, I won’t wash the windows because it doesn’t matter at all how clean they are — it’s wonderful to just have them.
When I come back, I will finally throw all the junk off the balcony — to stand and look at peaceful Ukrainian Kyiv. When I come back, I won’t throw anything off the balcony, because you never know when you’ll need bottles for Molotov cocktails and boxes for humanitarian aid.
When I come back, I will read all the unread books because of how painful it was to leave behind an entire bookshelf full of unread books. When I come back, I will buy more new books, I’ll do it much faster than actually read them. Because when you have unread books at home, it beckons you to return more than anything.
When I come back, I won’t collect piles of toys for my child because, as it turns out, you can play with one teddy bear, one shabby elephant, and a random pack of puzzles bought at a local shop. All the other games can be made up. When I come back, I’ll collect all the toys I can buy for my child: a new Lego, and kinetic sand, and an expensive doll. Because childhood should be as happy as possible. And I’ll let her cover everything with sand, I’ll allow it at home.
When I come back, I won’t spend too much money, because we don’t know what will happen to the economy, the wages and the currency exchange rates. When I come back, I will fill the refrigerator and the cupboards with stocks of cereals, canned food, and flour, because it is our collective trauma now.
When I come back, I’ll take coffee from people that I know at our local supermarket, and I’ll take my favourite doughnut with caramel. When I come back, I won’t buy coffee anywhere as often as I used to, because I’ve learned to make it just as good at home.
When I come back, I’ll lie in my bed and sleep for a long, long time. When I come back, I won’t be able to sleep well for some time because our bedroom is now associated with explosions outside the window, and every other dream will be about the war.
When I come back, I won’t be too lazy to drive around Ukraine on weekends — to show my child our Lviv, our Dnipro, our Kherson, our Kharkiv, our Ukrainian Crimea. When I come back, I won’t leave Kyiv for a long time, because I’ve missed it terribly.
When I come back, I’ll make my usual mozzarella and tomato sandwich, put on my black and worn-out pyjama T-shirt, put my daughter to sleep with twenty of her stuffed animals like I always do. When I come back, nothing will ever be “like always” again.
March 26 at 5:05 p.m.
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Ukrainian Text by Tetiana Honchenko. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Apr 1, 2022