News from Ukraine continues to be dismal. But book blogger, Clare from Word by Word wrote the other day about a daily diary she follows, written in Kyiv by Ukrainian author Yevgenia Belorusets. I too can recommend her very moving observations and pictures to you. Here’s an extract from yesterday’s entry:
In front of the ruins yesterday, among shattered glass, deformed scraps of metal, and pieces of the roof, I met a woman: an elderly lady who was looking for cigarettes. The kiosk where she bought them every day was so badly damaged that there were no windows or even doors anymore. The salesmen themselves were no longer around; the cigarettes lay unprotected in the shop window. The lady was asking everyone where to get a pack nearby. I suggested she leave the money in the shop window and take the pack, as a kind of self-service. Then I asked her why she decided to stay in Kyiv during these uncertain times.
She told me that her mother, who turned 100 three months ago, died this past week. In the war’s early days, it was unimaginable that she and her husband would leave the city. Now she was simply here. Maybe she would stay. Her eyes were shining; she even looked a little happy.
She was a mathematician, a scientist who came to Kyiv from Murmansk as a child. With many quips, she told me the tangled story of her family, saved time and again from war, hunger, and Stalin’s repressions. She spoke melodically and with a delicate touch, as if the words of the narrative had bound themselves together beforehand, only wanting for a listener. Despite her age, there was something young about her face, and she moved quickly and gracefully among stones and splinters. Our conversation didn’t last long, but I keep thinking back to it. Sometimes in war you have the feeling that you don’t want to lose other people, even after fleeting encounters. And now that I’ve described that meeting, I feel I did something to hold onto it.
The air-raid alarm doesn’t sound for the moment. We are safe. During the curfew, authorities recommend darkening the windows and turning on the lights as sparingly as possible. The streets are absolutely empty, and the houses look abandoned. It is a relief to think that at least these houses are not in danger right now as they try with all their might to mask the lives of their inhabitants, to make them invisible.
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