Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Tamara Podtynnaya
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Shirokino
Shirokino
"Snipers caught up with us. Bullets flew our heads"

On 9 September 2014, a dreadful fight began. The woman and her husband hid in the basement, where they lived until January of the following year. Then volunteers took them out of the village for three days. We left all domestic animals there. Five years have passed. We did not return home at that time.

As soon as we came out of the basement, we heard this rumbling sound, everything broke: both glass and slate, it all fell down. The attack was very heavy. Then it all settled down. Then it started again. Thus, the situation continued almost every day

Her spent her childhood in another village. She got married here in Shyrokyne. I have lived here for 58 years. It will be 60 years since we have been together.

We lived so well. We worked both. We had a good collective farm, where my husband worked as a vine grower, then a bee-keeper. I worked in a consumer's co-operative society, worked in one place for 43 years. We both retired. We have children. However, we live our own lives. We already have grandchildren. Our city is great. We had a 50-acre land. We had a vegetable garden,  grapes, and a greenhouse. All our staff had gone. 

We first met the war in August 2014. They knew that military came to Mariupol. But we thought it would never affect us.

On 4 September, a horrific shelling attack started. Many people got hurt. There were many deaths. We had to stay in one basement. Many people came down.

As soon as we came out of the basement, we heard this rumbling sound, everything broke: both glass and slate, it all fell down. The attack was very heavy. Then it all settled down. Then it started again. Thus, the situation continued almost every day. 

Once we were on our way to my sister's. She said, "Come and have everyone together." So we were overtaken by snipers! Bullets flew our heads. I shouted, “Vitya, quick, press the pedal! Vitya, please, hurry!" There was no one around. Everyone hid – they were coming. Well, we managed to come.

What was left to do? Anyway, we had to come home. We came down to our basement and lived there. We have left dogs, cattle, birds, and pigeons behind. We did not even have time to feed  them. We could not just leave them behind. That's why we went to our house. Luckily, we managed to reach our house. 

The attack could last day and night. When we heard any rumbling sound, we rushed to the basement. Even our neighbours came. We have a normal basement, so all the neighbors came here together. We all sat there until the shooting ended. Then we went out, did our household work and hid again. We live in the village, on the furthest street. We saw the shells fly above us.

My husband and I trembled. When people came to us, we were glad. We stayed together — six or seven of us. One family (five people) and another family (two people). We sat in the basement and trembled.

So we stayed until 12 or 15 January 2015. Those who lived in the center knew that the shooting went on, and the houses continued. There was a rumour that we needed to get out, that people would be hauled away.

They brought cars and buses. All the people were picked up in the center, loaded and transported. We were left behind since we lived far away. No one told us anything. We sat together and cried. 

Then daughter found a volunteer. She told her the address. The firing went on. She drove down the street, where she saw, said, "Come out, we will take you out." So we left on 12 or 15 January. 

At first, we lived at our children's. We left the basement in a rush. Wearing old boots, sweatshirts, shawls.  We left the household behind — 70 pigeons, chickens, geese, We left all our bees. We locked the house and took the keys with us.

I cried, and the volunteer said, “Why are you crying? Please, don't cry. We'll bring you back in three days." Five years have passed, and we still have not come back.

We drew acts of destruction.  But no one told us that we would be given a housing or indemnified. That is how we lived. We move from one place to another. We rented an apartment, but it was so cold in the winter that we caught a cold and both got sick. All our chronic diseases escalated.

We survived the winter at our daughter's. Six people live in her two-bedroom apartments. Then we arrived. There were too many of us there. So we stayed a month or two and then looked for housing.

That is how we lived. We have to rent apartments. However, our income is very low, because we are retired. We try to pull through by the grace of God. We can't have a normal life. We have to cut down our expenses. We can't afford meat any more. Luckily, we have vegetables and fruit in the summer. Getting food in winter is hard. We appreciate, though, that Rinat Akhmetov brings us flour. We received aid from him — we  have everything we need, and we were so happy!  

Once we were told that there is military police in Mariupol. We had to submit an application – and the staff will go to Shyrokyne, take a picture of the situation there. I filed an application. Then I received the photos. They were horrific. The house was completely destroyed. Everything was black. The walls collapsed, the ceiling fell down. I could see the wall of the surrounding house. Everything was destroyed.

We left, wearing cast-off clothing. All our staff had gone. We did not even have threads or needles. We had two washing machines, two refrigerators, a freezer, a boiler. We had heating and hot water We were already old. I think it is necessary to feel comfortable to have less diseases. We lost it all. Carpets, rugs, clothes, everything.

We were all taken away. The people who stayed got injured or blown up. There were a lot of summer camps in the village.  They were all ruined.

I see Shyrokyne in my dreams. I see my neighbours and my garden. We have been forced to live in someone's house now for five years, not five days. You can't even imagine how painful it is.

I was born in the time of war. The Germans came. People left the villages. However, that war did not last for five years. The Germans retreated. Not a single house was burned, not a single human being was killed. What is happening now? We thought that this war would be as this one.  When the Germans retreated, the situation took a turn for the better. It lasted for five years, too. However, we did not have to stay at someone else's houses.

So many people have died.  Some many deaths. 100 people have been buried. We returned in poor health. We don't have peace any more. This war is different.

I would like to return home and see what is happening. Perhaps a shed remained undamaged. I will fix it up and live there. At least, I would know that it is mine. No one will kick me out.

I wish the war would finish soon. I wish we would not have to face any war any more. I wish people would live a normal life. 

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