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Stories that you confided to us

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Viktor Rydyn

‘It’s the third war I’ve seen in my lifetime’

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The entire street has suffered, every single house. It’s the third war I’ve seen in my lifetime, and it’s been going on for the fifth year.

The Great Patriotic War. We were just kids back then. When a bomber was flying over, they directed spotlights towards it, and we were excited to watch. They started shooting it, and we watched out our windows. So that was my experience.

In this war, I’ve been just curious.

There was this one time, I had to hide away, and instead, when shrapnel was flying all over the place, I was making a new roof. I heard: there was one bullet, then another one, but I stayed, as stubborn as Chapayev. ‘You won’t get me!’. That’s how it was.

I’m coping. We have got used here. In spring, I plant some tomatoes. And though I am such an old-timer, have seen all kinds of things, but there goes this boom! – and I start getting all jumpy. This all puts a strain on the nervous system.

‘It’s the third war I’ve seen in my lifetime’

My grandson and daughter-in-law came to me once and of course wanted to look around the garden. And, all of a sudden, a shellfire started! They ran away and hid in the wind porch. We collected a tin full of bullets and shrapnel. I first kept that shrapnel but later threw it away.

We had to run from the cellar to the yard. So we stood there, with the door open, then took off and ran into the garage, and suddenly there was a shock wave – slam! It felt like a punch in the stomach. The shell landed nearby, near the hallway, smashed the windows, and damaged the wall. Its fragments hit the fridge and the hallway wall.

One person was killed, he lived two houses away from me, my dear one.

And another person, he’s actually of my age, 89, he was sitting in his balcony entry. A bullet flew into his right ear and went out on the other side. He had a surgery. He survived. I went to see him.

I’ve been living alone for seventeen years. My wife died, my son died, I only have my grandson and great-grandson. My grandson comes to see me. We keep in touch by phone. He continues our dynasty in the coke chemical industry. I built the plant, my son worked there as a director, and my grandson works there now as a deputy director. Guess my great-grandson will go to work at the plant too.

I have a really good garden. I’ve been gardening for all my life. I used to do some farming too, had around 300 chicken hens at the land plot of 600 square metres. That was back in the day. Now, I only have some pigeons.

If shellfire starts thumping, I run to the cellar. What can you do about it? There’s nothing you can do. A war is a war. I feel like it will go on for a while, it won’t end just yet, I think. That’s at least my opinion.

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

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Avdiivka 2014 Video Civilian's stories pensioners loss of loved ones safety and life support elderly (60+) poor
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