Stories that you confided to us

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Stories that you confided to us

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Mikhail Kostenko

"I had an idea to come under fire so that this senseless and orphaned life would end"

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I was 16 when the armed conflict started in Donbass. My mother and I lived in a private house near the Donetsk Airport and could see from the window everything that was happening. To say that it was a horror is to say nothing. 

"It was a never ending nightmare"

Shells hit our yard and exploded right in the garden. I remember that the shell landed exactly in the shed and caught fire which we could barely put out… The windows broke after the first attack, so I put plywood instead. It was not a house any more but a box with no light. You can imagine how we lived there! 

Plus, I was constantly afraid for myself and for my mother. It was a terrible dream, nightmare, that would never end. As I recall it now, it seems like it did not happen to me, it all seems like a blur. 

My mother got cancer before the war, so she undertook long treatment, and the prognosis seemed to be favourable. However, the disease was then intensified by the stress… 

It is so scary with the attacks, and restless without them. You feel nervous all the time, you worry all the time, "It seems quiet, so I'll quickly run to the store... Oh, but what if they start shelling, and I'm in the middle of the street?" So you spin these thoughts a hundred times in your head, and then run to the store like a madman.

My mother was worried about me and herself – and that told one her health. She died, and a week later I turned 18. I and a few neighbours were the only one at the funeral, I know a lot of people who left the street - two or three houses out of twenty had only someone living in. 

 "I didn't want to live anymore. What for?"

 After my mother died, life turned very difficult for me. I never had a father, so I have grandfather's patronymic name. 

I had the following thoughts back at that time: once the shelling begins, I would go out into the thicket so as to be killed for sure to finish this senseless, orphaned life…

Why didn't I do it? My godmother saved me. All her life she had lived in a small village near Mariupol. When the war started in our country, she would call us all the time and ask to leave the place, but my mother was afraid to leave the house in Donetsk. I was afraid to leave my mother. So all we could do was talk on the phone if there was a connection. 

My godmother couldn't come to the funeral, but she supported me the best she could by the phone. I really didn't want to live. What for? I had a feeling of injustice, bitterness, that I was left alone at the times of war. 

"No one ever reproached me with bread and butter"

Without doubt, constant calls from my godmother Anya brought me back to life. I packed some things and came to her. They immediately told me that no one would let me go under fire again. 

I even found a spare room in my godmother's house; her children had grown up and lived separately. I made it into university and even got a scholarship. Money was tight at that time, but no one ever reproached me with butter and bread. I have a scholarship, and I will definitely find some part-time work. 

Donetsk 2016 Text Civilian's stories
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