In our past lives, we planned to go on holiday, buy or change a car, finally finish repairs in the flat or at the cottage, give our child a higher education, get married, get divorced, start a business, earn a promotion, lose weight, write a book, become an Instagram or TikTok star, buy a new dress, get our eyebrows done, install a heater, learn to salsa dance, learn English…
It was just a few days ago. Today it seems like it was all somewhere else – far away… Today we wake up more with our ears, listening for explosions, for sirens, for the Telegram beeping, asking us to take shelter. Right away we turn to the feed – how are things in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Bucha? What does Belousov say, Filatov write, the governor’s press service report?
We changed on the night of February 24. Everything changed. Severely. Irreversibly.
If before the war, some people might have been very emotional about their neighbour’s new car (and wondered where the hell he gets his money from!); political talk shows on TV – like, what kind of morons are these … (everyone has his own anti-heroes); the negligence of some local MP who disappeared from the radar after the elections – now we are shocked at ourselves and at those around us – who lie down under tanks, to not let orcs from some Pskov or Voronezh into their small town; who come out to the central square of their town, soiled by Russian tanks, with Ukrainian flags and sing the national anthem; who haul mattresses, socks and toilet paper to volunteer posts; who make hundreds of cutlets to feed those at roadblocks; who set up shelters; who sew up the wounded in hospitals or simply call lonely old people to ask what they need to bring.
We have changed, and we are stunned by our own human fortitude and our own crazy cohesion, spoken of far above the “hailstones” and “tornadoes” unleashed on our cities by the Russian “liberators.”
We have changed and without noticing it ourselves, we began to calmly translate from Russian into Ukrainian and back again. And this has only made us understand each other better. We even invented a new part of speech by combining a preposition with a noun. Perhaps there is even a new alternative special direction for Russian ships. Their compasses will now have five poles instead of four.
We have changed. Not so long ago we were a hospitable and cheerful nation, but now we are sending curses in the direction of those who took life from us: some are sending their Russian relatives after the Russian ship, and some are trying to reason with the truth, showing photos of destroyed cities, murdered women and children. Most of the curses, of course, go to the one we now insist on writing with a small ‘p’. We ourselves did not know that the reservoir of anger and hatred was so great inside us. These changes have shown us that. We would have liked to have a choice, but we have not been left with one.
We have also changed because we no longer think about our personal future. It is no longer an individual future, it is now a shared one. It doesn’t matter where we are now: in Kamianske, Kyiv, Poland, or Slovakia. We must remember our dreams and the plans we had before February 24 and put them into practice. But just a little later. When we have liberated our land from evil. When we have mourned all those who have died. When we have rebuilt what has been destroyed. When we can embrace our loved ones.
For many years we have been trying to unite, to glue Ukraine together. Not all attempts have been successful. But we tried. Now it has changed. When a woman from Kharkiv sends her dearest one – her daughter with three of her newborn grandchildren – to Lviv, where she has no one close to her, by writing about it on Facebook, no one even doubts that her children will be safe. It’s a trust that we definitely have in each other now.
When we change – we become stronger, we wipe away our tears quicker and we can hold our punches sharper, we realize that we are capable of a lot for peace, to dream and fulfil our dreams again, and our children see what their adults are capable of for their country and their future.
Kamianske is Ukraine!