Anna Riabova, Kyiv-Paris


It’s granny’s birthday, until this day she has been long inquiring about what to cook for the table, whether we will have a date, or I will come with V., manti or carp, juice or wine.

No one was prepared for this day, except for pilaf and charlotte pie.

Waking up at Lvivska, in the apartment of the closest person, with the usual arrangements of things: window with the curtains closed, yet with a 10cm gap between them, so that the morning light would wake you up, but not insistently; next to it - a glass of water, books laying on the chest of drawers with bed linen in it; on the right, calm V. breathing calmly.

waking up at Lvivska at an unusual time from an unusual sound was unfamiliar to me, as for all residents of Ukraine, though my sleep was restless for the second week in a row, 5 am it is then I thought.

2 days ago I dreamed that I must tank the car, but fuck the intuition, and once again I didn’t; after this morning I gave myself a promise that I must fill the 20 litres regularly. The allotted 20 litres, ones we’ll remember for a long time.

Papa, 20 litres, is that a lot or a little to save yourself?

Ran downstairs, drove through the academy to the Nyzhniy Val, there - there’s a huge line of endlessly panicked humming motors, someone is buying sausages with ketchup, dairy, please. Hvylya Zdorovya bottles get turned to use, the copyright on labels fits like never before, I turn the car around and we drive back home.

we gather the essentials, V. sent me to buy bread for the grandmothers, went to Kolon - the Tula gingerbreads lay lonely on the shelf, nobody takes these.

Papa dissuades us from leaving, until now nobody knows which of the decisions was the right one at that moment - we stay in Kyiv. We tape the windows, V. approaches this process as an artistic performance, we only still the brown tape, which leaves a trace when it’s ripped off, though I don’t give a fuck. In the bedroom we make an Understructure out of boxes, the one on top keeps on detaching, like a bath leaf, we prop it up with a collection of books.

We make the dinner and don’t go to the bomb shelter, V. spoons me and lulls me into sleep, the dream is interrupted by the sirens as if this ringtone was forcibly set up for all of us as if some dumbass from a neighbouring school jacked your phone while you were tired, yet happy returning home while waiting for spring. this dumbass is evil and will get what they deserve. karma is a bitch.


We decided to transfer to Kudryavska, in a month and a half there will be grapes growing there which I was so looking forward to. The entire winter a Grey thrush and the Black thrush(let) paid the visits - named lovingly as they loved to eat the raisins rather than the dry oatmeal from a plate.

On Kudryavska the windows are wooden and double-glazed, the door is armoured and the bathroom fits a mattress.

In the evening I put myself together and with a zero reserve in the tank, encouraged the Car that she could once again do the drive through the academy down to the Val, she did it, I stood in line and filled up 3 x 20 litres, V. walked up to Lvivska for the canisters, two of which we will donate for the cocktails.

The old box from the refrigerator, which served as a sun-blind, so that the sun does not wake us up in the morning, we now cover the window and the balcony door, now it has one more function.

The box reads “LG” which deciphers into “life is good”

Vasiliev dialled in the morning, they decided to give us the key to the warehouses of a supplier who left. At the Dimiivsky market, the place, where in summer we come to pick the sweetest watermelons, peaches, flowers and real tomatoes, a strange world of the market opened up to us on this day.

The warehouse with meat is in charge of a stately woman known as Zakharovna, harsh, but has softened up to me, she gives the orders quickly, says the empty boxes should be removed, and I must keep the warehouse clean, and keep the weirdos away.

I went through the chickens and the mangoes with my bare hands with a Camel Blue in my teeth (switched from rollies back to the nicotine paradise). The car is now sagging under the loaded weight of potatoes, onions, beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms - delivering food was salvation. I knew that I could be a taxi driver, but not yet that I could manage a market.

That would mean I can now be called Alexandrovna on the Dimeevsky market.

Something interesting: there, next to the Dimiivsky market, on the first runway of the railway station in a pre-revolutionary house, which is still standing, my grandfather Igor Alexandrovich lived before he was taken to Babi Yar together with his aunt Aksenfeld (after having been re-registered into Riabov). At the time grandfather was taken together with his aunt, she worked as a surgeon, so could perform an operation on some nazis, so for her merits, they were saved. Then they sat in the Gestapo for a couple of months at Vladymirska 33, after which they were in hiding on Saksaganskogo. And we are on Kudryavska in ’22.

I already forgot why I wrote this all down, but probably because you never know what the future holds and who you could become; you’d make a plan one day, and then another moment you may no longer be an architect, instead just Alexandrovna.

We delivered vegetables and fruits to friends in the area, the taste of mango will be associated only with a warehouse in the Dimiivsky market for a long time.

For dinner, rice and last year’s leftovers of the frozen shrimps, I cut sweet potato and put it in the freezer, V. got angry and said that I’ve turned on a Baba mood, but I don’t pay attention, it’s the intuition from the past of our great-grandmothers that directs my cutting of vegetables.


A curfew has been announced for more than 1 day, V. exposes his face to the sun in the morning, and I blush, these will be the most anxious and intimate days at the same time.

by an unfortunate coincidence, I am reading Benjamin’s Moscow diaries, the sirens interfere with my reading, V. says to minimise the light and to move the sofa closer to the wall away from the windows, while I keep on moving the chair getting onto it with my bare feet, pressing my cheek and ear against the cold glass of the window to hear the silence of the street.

What a dead street!

  1. The curfew is over, we go outside and pass through many block-posts, everyone is asking what we are doing - we are delivering food. We stop at Obolon at my grandmother’s, someone has given her a blue budgerigar. Granny says that he is jumping around the cage because the cat scares him.

Fuck him.

It’s not the cat that Budgerigar cares about, but rather the sound of sirens and explosions, grandma's hearing aid batteries stopped working, maybe for the better.


The wind is spinning in the street: in the sky, on Artyoma Street, grains in the kitchen, tree branches where the birds sit. The curfew starts at 19.00, which means that from the street we hear the sobs of passing patrol cars. A television wire is whipping my window.

V. breathes into the glass of the door's window while I sit on the toilet, and draws a heart.


Then food again, Lesha from the Right Coffee runs up to me and pours some free coffee, then asks if I want sugar. I don’t use sugar, but I remember an anecdote:

Once upon a time, a jew before his death:

Sarah, would you make me some tea with two spoons of sugar?

Why with two?

Well, when being a guest I always take three, at home - just one, but now I really want exactly two.