Sonya, Odessa / Kharkiv / Kiev
My mother called yesterday and asked me to come to her.
I’m Sonya. In April, if I’m lucky, I’ll turn 27.
I am from Kyiv, but for the last couple of years, I have lived in three cities: Odesa, Kharkiv, Kyiv. There are people I love living in each of them. I am an anarchist, so I have never harbored patriotic feelings, but my loved ones now wear machine guns, uniforms, and yellow-blue chevrons. And I’m wearing plitonoski [basics for bulletproof vests], first aid kits, and tactical gloves for them.
In the first days, we were so scared that we stopped eating. They forgot to drink. They started a phrase, couldn’t finish it, cut it off. I remember that everyone had an upset stomach. Then Kharkiv was furiously bombed, and I heard from friends from there that they feel the same thing – a constant urge to go to the toilet. I am writing about this to remember forever: war is when it twists the guts. When you get numb in a stupor attack, you get stupid, you bend over. There is nothing beautiful about her, nothing worth singing about.
In between attacks, my friends and I ran around all the places where we could use ourselves: points of territorial defense, the military enlistment office, the Red Cross, the temple. In desperation, we prepared to guerrilla, organized ourselves, extracted gasoline, delivered it to the workshop, made a cocktail mix. they did it quietly, fearing. A week later, Molotov cocktails were already being made on the main square. In the open. Everything.
I was on duty at the Orthodox church for several nights. This place is at the very bottom of the cathedral, on the door, there was a sheet with the inscription “sanctuary”. At night, during the alarm, people from all the surrounding areas ran there. Almost all with children. In the temple, you could sleep on carpets that were laid on the floor. I couldn’t pray. Thoughts ran and hung at some point until someone’s question or request came out of it. It helped. The only time I managed to pray, I asked to save my family. Mom was persuaded to leave for Poland. My brother stayed in Kyiv, standing at a checkpoint. The circle of my blood relatives closes on these two people, so in a sense I was lucky. I don’t need to save my children or take out elderly grandparents. For the first time, I’m glad that I don’t have a “full” family. This summer I still imagined myself as a mother. This spring I don’t think of myself as anyone anymore.
My mother called yesterday and asked me to come to her. I’m very bitter, but I can’t. I can’t make plans, I can’t make decisions. I can only volunteer desperately, work with my hands, feet, and everything except my head. I can’t get angry, I can’t get fiercer. My old PTSD is superimposed on a new one, which is being formed right now. Perhaps, thanks to him, it is possible to swallow the fear, prevent panic, transform it into action.
If I don’t have the strength to resist, I’ll dig a hole and stay in it.
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