May 13, 2022


Original post: This post was translated and edited by our team.

Today I was walking around the city with an old friend, with whom we suddenly decided to try to spice up our friendship with romance. And all of a sudden, I found myself in Mariupol. A quiet shadowed street, lime-white trees, small houses, and knitted curtains in the windows. And the smell. The smell of freshly trimmed trees, a campfire, and a thin fog gently flowing with a warm, unkinky scarf over my feet. I stood and tried to breathe, and he held my hand and told me that everything will be all right, that we will definitely go, and I will show him the city. My beloved hometown, by the least blue sea in the world.

Only, I won’t show it to him anymore. My city is gone. There is no maternity hospital anymore where I was born. No school where I studied, no streets where I walked, and no trees where I climbed with the neighborhood boys. There is no more Drama Theater, where I went to children’s matinees and to “Trees Die Standing.” No yard where I kissed until self-forgetfulness. No magical place, my personal Narnia. No beloved bridge at the train station. No chestnut alley. And no barbershop where they cut my waist-long hair to nothing and then made curls when my flat-top hair reached my shoulders again. No store where I bought my coolest dress, which is still with me after so many years. There are no houses of friends and relatives who I could visit without an invitation even if I hadn’t come by for several years. 90% of the city is destroyed. It is simply being wiped off the face of the earth. Along with the people, many of whom are gone too. Just no more. And never will be again. And I can’t even show them in pictures – there are no pictures either.

Everyone has their own war. Some people do their job and kill the enemies. Some people do the job which is not theirs, and also kill the enemies. Somebody is saving them when they can be saved. Someone has left, taking their children and loved ones away and helping out from a large or not so large distance. Someone collects money, someone buys medicine, and someone drives it. Some evacuate humans and some evacuate animals. Someone makes money and someone plays political games. Someone is already figuring out how life will be after the far. Some see how their loved ones die in front of their eyes, and some through a smartphone screen. Some die very quickly, and some die excruciatingly long. Some die from bombs and shelling, some from lack of medicine or water, and some from endless rape. This is all happening in my city with people I know personally or have heard about. Or should I say “known”? And I don’t know which is worse. Because there are infinitely many of them. All of them. For 30 freaking days, I endlessly dial multiple phone numbers and listen to endless freaking beeps or “subscriber out of range.” I do this every single day at a different time. I also endlessly browse through endless chats and endlessly growing lists. I am endlessly texting people I know and strangers I don’t know.

For 30 fucking days, I can answer the question “Have you heard from your parents?” with one word, “no.” And that’s all I know for sure. No news. And my thick armor, built up over the years, which cracked so untimely just before the war, keeps crumbling and crumbling like an old clay pot. Because it will never be all right again. It will surely be some way, but different. But it will never be as good as it was. We will never be the same. None of us. Not the living, not the dead. Because 30 days is too long even for those who are simply waiting for the voice in their headphones and have only heard the war on the telephone speaker for a few minutes.

30 days is irreversible. 30 days is when you learn to breathe differently. 30 days is when you no longer have a childhood, a youth, and a huge portion of your soul. 30 days is when you pull your hand out, breathe in, and realize you can handle it. And you’re going to make it. Because they, the ones whose voices you’re waiting on the phone, really need you to cope and make it through. They need you to make it through and hold on. And do the best you can. Here and now. If not for those who are dearest, then for someone else. And maybe someone else will do what they can for them, there. In a city that no longer exists. In my beloved hometown by the least blue sea in the world.

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