Sofiya Manoylo, Specialized School №3, Mariupol city, Donetsk region
In the "One Day" essay competition, her work took 2nd place.
Teacher - Vasilyeva Natalya
‘I am going to draw that day…’
Quote from the song of the Ukrainian musician Svyatoslav Vakarchuk
Our life consists of a great number of days, like a picture of puzzles. Working days and weekends, sad and happy days, ordinary and special days – they all pass. But there are such days that are etched in your memory, that change you, and often come back in memories. You live them again and again. I would like to recount one day from my life.
For some time we lived separated from the war. Yes, the inhabitants of our city often went to bed to the roar of cannonade, anxiously froze listening to the news. On the way to school, I felt the ground tremble from some distant explosions.
Our teacher, usually smiling and cheerful, was then serious and focused, constantly reminding us about the safety rules during the shelling, the evacuation procedure. Training of such vital skills in the new conditions took place every week.
The military were constantly moving in the city. Military vehicles, the purpose of which was unknown to me, were passing through the streets. Snipers on the roofs of buildings were very frightening, but my mother set me at ease, explaining that these people were there for the safety of citizens during mass events.
And the sirens of ambulances... Day and night, these vehicles raced through the streets, saving the lives of peacekeepers. One of the clinics was turned into a military hospital.
Until that fateful day, the war frightened from afar, as if making us accustomed to the idea that it was possible to coexist with it. And then, having lulled us to sleep, hit hard, in a brutal manner.
It happened on a weekend, on Saturday, when people were engaged in their household chores, went for walks with families, met with friends. I used to think that hail (“grad” in Ukrainian) is an atmospheric phenomenon, a form of precipitation. In a naïve, childish way. At that time, I had no idea of another meaning of this word, a meaning with an admixture of trouble.
The Left Bank district of my city came under fire from a weapon having the same name (Grad rocket launcher). The joyous day of rest instantly turned into a black date. People died. And this is an irreparable loss.
It turns out that the war was always near; it was looking for a vulnerable place. Since then, it has been really scary. It is not necessary to be at war in order to be dragged into a confrontation, in order to suffer, and to take risks.
Residents of the affected district moved away from their homes: some temporarily lived at their relatives’ places, some rented an apartment in the city centre, some left, rescuing themselves and their loved ones.
My mother and I left the city for a week. And then we came back, because my dad did not go: he continued to work. We wanted to be together to support each other during that life trial.
In memory of this tragic day in the history of Mariupol, there is a mural depicting a little girl holding close a teddy bear. That day she lost her mother and the girl herself was maimed. The teddy bear is associated with the childhood that the horrors of war stole from her. I often walk past the building where the mural is placed. I stop by and have memories in my mind. This is probably exactly the day when the war burst into my life and when I grew up ahead of time.
Now I clearly understand what peace is. Peace is the absence of war in all its terrible and shameful manifestations. It is an opportunity to live without fear, with plans for the future; it is simply a chance to LIVE. The meaning of the word “peace” can be truly comprehended by a person who survived the war.
I do not want more such days. Let there be other days – bright and happy ones, as gifts of destiny. These are exactly the days Okean Elzy band sings about: ‘I am going to draw the day where I fly and the day where I sing.’
My house is on Myru (Peace) Avenue, and I am a peaceful person striving for peace.
When quoting a story, a reference to the source – the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation – is mandatory, as follows:
The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation https://civilvoicesmuseum.org/