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Aleksandr Reznik

‘Childhood was over, the world changed, the war began’

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Oleksandr Reznik, Kharkiv Lyceum No.141, Kharkiv city, Kharkiv region

In the "One Day" essay competition, his work took 3rd place

Oleksandr in 2013

Oleksandr in 2021

It is a morning. I wake up and do not see the sun for some reason. So strange, because my room is the lightest in the house. And then I recall that my mum woke me up very anxiously in the middle of the night and told me to take a pillow, a blanket and my favourite toy with me and go down to the cellar. Why is it so dark?

We are all together here: my parents on an inflated mattress, my sister and I nearby. We hear only some noise and barking of our dogs. It looks like an adventure – to stay together in the boiler room and the cellar. My father even laid an old carpet so we could play on the floor in the boiler room. My mother brought some water, a kettle and some kitchenware so that we could drink tea and eat food.

The first floor of the house and the cellar slowly turned into a “bomb shelter”: here were our books, toys, some food, medicines, just in case, and the most important grab bag, in which my mother put all the important documents.

In the morning everything calmed down for some time and we went out to my grandmother and to the store. My mum is afraid to leave us at home, so we are always together. Things seem to be as usual, but something is somehow wrong. Military vehicles often drive down the street, and for some reason it does not make us happy. In several districts of the town there is no electricity, but there is still water supply. Shops are open, although not until the evening...

Such a beautiful summer day, everything is fine: the sun is shining, we are already going home, but suddenly something starts to rumble. Our frightened mother tells us to run home faster. Our house is strong and solid, and it is not scary there, but still, we are not free to be where we want to be, and we cannot do what we want, because we have to be cautious.

We are almost used to this roaring. All people listen out: whether it rumbles or whistles, and then they know if they need to run or lie down.

Every day there is some news. Parents discuss it without us, but we understand that not everything is fine. Several of my friends left. Our acquaintances’ homes were damaged…

It started in the spring when some people in camouflage clothes appeared on the streets; when the Last Bell Day was cancelled in schools, and our class could not go to either a coffee shop, or a park or for a picnic; when our parents stopped allowing us to go outside on our own when the plane flew…

We returned home, everything calmed down. We did not want to stay inside the house, so we went out for a swim in the pool, which was in the yard. Mother said that we also needed to pick the cherries, because we could not just sit and wait – we had to do something. So, we agreed that after the pool we would immediately go to the cherry tree.

I like splashing in the pool with my sister when the weather is hot. We always keep asking our parents to stay in the pool a little more, one more minute…

And then suddenly our mother ran out of the kitchen with her eyes widely open and shouted, ‘Quick! Move it! Get out! Hurry to the house!’ It seemed to me that I had never seen her so scared, never.

She tried to calm us down, but her condition, her voice, and the fact that she almost threw us out of the pool suggested the opposite. Again, the rumbling of guns. We can hear a grenade exploding very close, and my mother now has other things to worry about, rather than those cherries. We listen again, and my mother still cannot reach our father by the phone. Our dog hides in the kennel and refuses to go out.

That was a hot summer day of 2014... There used to be a lot of sweltering summer days, but that was exactly the time when my mother started packing the suitcases…

Childhood was over, the world changed, and the war began. You can call it the temporarily occupied territories, anti-terrorist operation (ATO), but peace and quiet, friends and happiness were stolen from me. That was ONE day that turned my outlook upside down and changed my life.

2014 2021 Text Civilian's stories children 2014 moving shelling safety and life support internally displaced persons Separation from loved ones 2021 Essay Competition 2021
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