Elizaveta Bidyuk, Melitopol Lyceum – Boarding School, Oleksandrivka village, Zaporizhzhya region
In the "One Day" essay competition, her work took 3rd place
I had been living in Donetsk region until 2018. I was born there, my friends stayed there, with whom I played snowballs in winter and swam in a pond in summer. We had a close-knit family: my mother worked as a teacher, and my brother and I went to school.
Now, looking back, I understand that we were happy despite various sorts of trifles in life. But...
I was eight years old when I realized something bad had happened. I clearly remember that my friends and I were riding our bicycles when a warning siren began to wail suddenly. My mother ran out, grabbed my hand and quickly dragged me into the house. There was no shelling then, but I memorized her eyes, full of tears and fear. This fear passed on to me.
Since then on, we had to take shelter as soon as we heard the rumble of artillery shells. To me they sounded like fireworks, so even now I shudder when I hear the fireworks during some festive events.
Time passed and it became a “system”. Day and night, winter and summer, this “fiery amusement” could get you anywhere: whether I was staying at home, walking on the street or came to school.
Sometimes, you would sit in the classroom and first hear one bell, the second and the third one – the whole class goes down to the bomb shelter. Some children even rejoiced at the disrupted lessons, but their joy did not last long.
It happened that we could spend all day in the basement. At home, an ordinary cellar with jarred pickles became our bomb shelter. I felt like in a movie where the heroes in a bunker were fleeing from zombies... Every night was a lottery game – for somebody it could become the last one.
However, I had to fully feel the horror of our situation in the autumn of 2017. On that day, my mother woke me up early in the morning. Everything was clear without words. She hastened me, but I persistently called for the cat because the latter was scared too.
That time, the shells exploded very close: our ears were blocked, pieces of plaster were falling from the ceiling, and the walls were shaking. It seemed that our end was coming and we either would be torn to pieces together with the house, or would be covered by collapsing slabs, or would not be able to get out...
Back then I, an eleven-year-old girl, pressing my back against the damp wall, began to sincerely pray to God asking for salvation, and my mother prayed next to me. When everything calmed down, my nerves snapped and I burst into tears. We survived...
The shell hit the kitchen, and shattered everything there. The fallen wall crushed the dog kennel where our Bublik was hiding. Perhaps he was not killed by a shell, but rather died from horror...
Horror settled in my brother’s and my eyes. On that day, we realized what war is. We realized that those who shoot do not care where their shells are flying. And my mother left everything: our home, her job, our native village – she saved us and went to nowhere, away from flying death.
Thus, for four years now, we have been living in the south of Ukraine, where there is no shooting. For many people here, the war in Donbass is a terrible fairy tale, a legend. While for me, it showed me how cruel a human being could be. As well as the fact that the “crown of creation” is a weak-willed mortal who has to wait for their fate quietly.
War is the smell of fear and despair. Fear kills the mind. There are no right and wrong here. Everyone fights and survives in their own way.
War near-hand is not an example of courage and valour. It is a meat mincer in which some achieve their goals at the cost of others’ lives. No war can justify the death of defenceless children.
I so much wish that peace could finally come, so that people who have lost their small homeland could return home. My soul is still in Donbass... When I remember my village, I see everything as it was before: quiet streets with chestnut trees, my friends, our sweet home under a red roof, and our dog Bublik waving his tail in a friendly manner near his kennel in the yard.
I would give everything for returning to the past and stopping the war, senseless and merciless.
We need peace that guarantees a clear sky and a dignified life, without fear, for all the inhabitants of Ukraine!
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/