As always, when you least expect it, as you are about to go to sleep, the phone rings.
“It’s urgent. There are many children, and they are very hungry. Is it possible?” says the familiar voice of the volunteer who takes people out of the hot zones.
“Of course, you can. We are always ready to receive and provide shelter.”
I turn on the oven, throw in 4 kg of chicken legs (feels like the husband knew that we will need a lot), and put on a large pot for the soup and porridge. I know the appetite of those who have been sitting in cellars for months.
Within an hour, there is a knock on the door, and many children enter. I look for mothers with my eyes, but I see only small, thin, tortured, and exhausted children. And two of them have children in their arms. I don’t want to believe that these skinny girls are grown-up mothers because it seems like they just have bones, skin, and a wide smile. There are many of them. Eight adults and a whole bunch of kids.
We settle them in rooms and corridors.
While the children are running to the room, the bathroom, and the toilet, we pour food.
It is probably not possible to describe the story of every woman, so I will write about one for now.
Mother, with her 6 children and 2 grandfathers, one of whom is very old.
“It is most difficult for those who do not have a car. Because there is no way to leave. They are forced to wait for evacuation and queue for an opportunity. And while you wait, these bastards will think of other ways to make fun of us. And their imagination is sick. The horror of what they do cannot be described in words. Grandfather speaks, and his voice trembles. His hands are shaking, and he has tears in his eyes.
“They left my grandchildren as orphans. How much grief they have caused. Thousands of families are broken, and tens of thousands of children are forced to cry because of them.”
A thin woman hugs a small child to her chest. She said that three of the children are hers, and three are her nephews.
“My sister and her husband stayed under the rubble of the house. Their children were visiting, so they stayed to live with me. One was badly beaten, with bruises, scratches, and a broken nose. He helped pull his parents out from under the rubble. They couldn’t pull them out in time, but the remains of the house still managed to fall on the boy.”
Three more small ones. Two are also well beaten, with bruises. One with a bandage on his head from when he jumped into the crypt hiding from the shelling.
All of them saw death, grief, and abuse because they were under occupation. Also hunger. That’s why when they sit down at the table, they just pounce on the food. They eat quickly and everything they see.
“Meat, meat, I wanted it so much”, the little one pushes the plate towards him and starts crying, “They took everything from our house: our chickens and potatoes from the basement. And we fed these chickens, we helped my mother dig potatoes, and they came and took them away. And we had nothing to eat.” Now the little one is crying, I, my friend who helps me, and everyone around.
Meanwhile, my husband helps volunteers with cars, gas stations, and settlements. When the family finishes eating, new people will come down, and I will listen to a new story and cry again. Because it hurts for them. Because I want it to finally stop, so that the children do not see war and hunger, so that they do not leave their parents under the rubble of the house and do not fall into a pit, knowing that they will hurt themselves, but realizing that life is more important.
I want this to end. I want Russia to come to an end and peace to reign.
I don’t reread the story, I don’t correct mistakes, and I don’t edit.
I quickly wrote and shared. Therefore, I know that typos are there, but the story is not about them. It is about the pain of each individual person and Ukraine in general. I just want the whole world to know the story of these people. So that those who pretend that it does not concern them try to imagine their children in their place. So that those who think that the [average] Russians have nothing to do with it remember that silence is a sign of agreement with the situation.