Ghena Fefelov, Kyiv
1 day. Morning.
We went to bed around 3 am, so my phone ringing at 6 in the morning brings intense irritation and hatred. “Fuck, who would want to call me right now?” — I’m thinking. I don’t pick up and hide a phone under the mattress. In five minutes, Masha’s phone is ringing.
— Masha, the war has started! — her mom is almost screaming into the phone.
— What? What are you saying?
— Putin! He declared war!
— Ok, mom, but I need to sleep a bit more.
— Come on, wake up and get in touch!
Masha says goodbye to her mom and falls asleep, well, tries to sleep.
Masha knew that I heard the whole conversation, so she just looked at me and said nothing. Now it’s clear why I was called. She covered herself with a blanket and turned her back to me. Cold and tingling in my body didn’t let me move normally, but still, I hugged her. My kitten moved closer to me. My hands started to numb, and blood pressure rose as if I’d smoked a whole cigarette in one puff. What does it mean, “war”? What are ours doing? And now what? I can’t keep my eyes shut. Grey light barely breaks through the window, my feet are cold, and I’m looking at the back of my girlfriend’s head. Do we have to flee? Ok, good, I have a full tank. But in such a condition, it is certainly not an option. We need to sleep, yes, and we need to sleep and then we’ll see. We’ll see what the news says, and then we’ll understand what we can do. We hug, but our embrace lacks tenderness. There is only a signal “I’m here, I’m with you”. I can’t sleep, Masha as well. I turn away from Masha and get the phone from underneath the mattress.
The first thing I see is putin’s declaration of this “special operation”. This jerk can’t lift his hands off the table, he tries to pretend his balls are not shrinking, announcing such a thing to us. Scum. In the background of his speech on the video, I hear a strange noise on the minor frequencies, like a hum from a camera or a generator. This noise brings me anxiety. So, this is how it happens. This is how people find out that war has been declared on their country. And what are we all supposed to do? Fuck, what a motherfucking cunt he is. What the fuck does he want from us, this complete scum. Fucking bitch. Well, that’s it for now, this is it.
Next, I see some news about the shelling. My feet are getting sweaty and thus colder. I inhale and exhale through the nose. I should put the phone away. I need to rest so that I’m in the right condition to take care of it. I put the phone away, cover my feet and hug Masha.
1 day. Afternoon
I called Ilya — he’s also at his place, he says he went to find the closest shelter.
Rusnya took over Chernobyl nuclear plant, the UK doesn’t allow Russian planes to fly over its territory. Zhenya writes in the chat that they are halfway to the West, and the traffic is heavy. Patosh went to Hostomel with his dad.
The day before yesterday, Zhenya said this would start in a few days. He said there is some information from his relatives in SBU. But, fuck, he wrote it in one line. Of course, I didn’t take it seriously. The USA has been talking about it for ages, and no one took it seriously, let alone one line from someone from somewhere.
Fucking hell. While we are eating, I’m taking the phone away to calm down a little.
— What are we going to do?
— Have you packed?
— I think we could go West, a then we’ll see.
The only thing is that the traffic is outrageous.
Patosh writes in chat that he sees some military from his window and they don’t look like ours. Earlier, he sent a video with the Russian hoppers. Everyone tells him not to move. All of it is fucked up. Fucking animals intrude on our peaceful space. I’m trying to collect my thoughts, but nothing works out. Patosh writes that these are not ours. They are shooting into the air. “Be careful, go to the cellar”. Half an hour passes. He said they got the fuck out of there through the window and left. He writes they would go to Ivano Frankivsk region to his relatives.
I’m turning on the TV. All channels joined in one broadcasting stream. Everything looks fucked, but ours, it seems, are still holding it. For the first time, I see the notice about mobilization. That’s it, now men can’t leave. All evening we watch and read the news. I tell Masha it’s time to go to bed and think about whether we will leave or stay in the morning.
I’m inhaling the smoke from an electronic cigarette, on the phone, the president is speaking on the speed x2, there is no time to listen, watch, or read all the news. Masha and I are sitting and don’t get out. It’s the 26th hour of the curfew. We started to quarrel more often. We are on edge. We try not to get depressed, but it’s hard. We haven’t witnessed the horrors of war the way the others did. We are lucky. We haven’t lost anyone. We are waiting. We hope and wait. I hope and wait.
I go to the kitchen and drink Pepsi. It has a taste of the West.
The flat is quiet, and I can hear all the sounds of the electronic appliances: PC coolers, fridge, aircon. I hear how Masha’s typing. Somewhere 30 km from us, people us dying. It would be a good idea for us to go to the shelter, there are aid raids. But we don’t hear explosions, so we are sitting at home. This week, we stopped noticing the siren because there were no explosions near us and no news that something had fallen in our area. I’m scared that I’m always trying to listen to all the sounds carefully. Th aid raids are not that loud where we live. The phones are silent. Because of the pipes and electronics humming, I hear a phantom siren sound all the time.
A week ago, there was an explosion a few kilometres from us. Masha was lucky not to hear it. But I heard it, and I saw it. In one moment, the window got bright. As if the sun has risen or someone shined towards our house with a powerful searchlight. Then the light went away, and the wave came. The house was shaking with the loud noise. In the street, the car started signalling. The windows broke down in the house next to us. I became scared. Then there were two more explosions of almost the same power. I woke Masha up to run to the shelter. I was shaking all over but tried not to show it. Didn’t want her to worry. Didn’t want to panic. There hasn’t been anything like this for a week already.
Kyiv Digital writes that there are no more aid raids. Each time I’m waiting for this message, I exhale with relief each time. And I hope it’s the last time.
— I decided to watch the film in the end.
— Ok, I got it.
I come back to the sofa.
Marines, they die so fast. And somewhere about 30km away, Ukrainian soldiers are also dying fast, protecting us from Russian pigodogs. The eyes of the old man in the cemetery turn into the eyes of a young Tom Hanks, who is about to land on the coast of Normandy.
It is impossible to watch the landing of these soldiers without tears. When, in the second scene, it becomes known that three of the four brothers have died – my tears flow like a stream.
I’m sitting on a step in front of the humanitarian headquarters […]. It’s sunny. It’s the first time I’m not wearing a coat, but it’s still chilly. Since yesterday evening, I constantly hear artillery, but there has been no spring storm yet. It’s not single explosions anymore. It’s a never-ending, dull, loud drumming of the gods of war, ending every time it’s only for a minute or two.
I’m waiting for Lesha.
We enter the headquarters. […] Broken tiles on the walls outside and broken tiles on the floor inside. There are many rooms in the warehouse, and they are all connected by two corridors. Each room for one purpose: one has military overalls, another stores medicine, a third stores food, others store hygiene products, walkie-talkies, body armour, camping equipment, etc.
We drink coffee and exchange experiences – Lyosha is also an active volunteer. Now everyone is helping in whatever way they can. I give Anya the contact of my friend from Chernivtsi. He can help with the delivery of humanitarian aid.
There are mostly girls in the headquarters. The exception is a few men in military uniform, with blue ribbons on their sleeves and AK-47s in their hands. They sit quietly in a separate room with open doors and glance at us, then at their phones.
The camera is on. Lesha asks Yaroslava to introduce herself and ask her what she’s doing. I’m standing on the right and filming from the side angle. Lesha keeps asking why she stayed and didn’t flee, what brought her to voluntary work, how she lived through February 24 and how her attitude to Russia and russians has changed. Then, we film another girl, and then Anya. Then we film cut-outs, details, how they’re sorting medicine, how the grocery boxes are carried.
After the shooting, we all take pictures together, and while we smoke, we discuss the history of Ukraine.
Lesha asked me to help him buy and deliver energy drinks and cigarettes to the territorial defence post in the morning. I asked Anya if they had them in stock. They give us one pack of Redbull and three blocks of Philip Morriss cigarettes.
— I was happy to see you.
— Me too. I hope I see you soon.
We hug goodbye and leave. I’m in a car, and Lesha follows on a bike.
At the gas station, Lesha bought more cigarettes and six more boxes non-stop, asking me to deliver everything. I agree.
— Thank you, a man in military uniform says when he’s receiving the boxes.
— Thank you, - I tell him and walk to the car with a sense of shame since I’m driving home.