Story By: A student from Kherson, who has lived there all her life, but left the city because of the war
My grandmother and grandfather remained in occupied Kherson, from whom I could get most of my information. Life has become much darker. Almost all the everyday pleasures that most people are used to are gone – you can’t just go to the movies or sit with your girlfriend for a cup of coffee. Except for grocery stores and pharmacies, most places are closed as if you were living in a zombie apocalypse movie. On top of that, food and medicine started disappearing from store shelves, and what you can get costs cosmic prices. It was as if life had died, and on February 24, the hand on all clocks stopped.
But the scariest part is understanding the constant presence of the enemy. They are everywhere like poisonous animals, and you never know when one of them will be behind you. Their tanks drive through the streets, their soldiers with machine guns at roadblocks around the city. Civilians are completely defenseless- russians can easily stop you and empty your pockets, take your car because they just feel like it. They will even break into your house and declare themselves the new masters. They don’t have the law, and they don’t have humanity.
Last month, my grandmother’s son-in-law was kidnapped from her home in the early morning hours and tortured for four hours, leaving the father of four children beaten half to death. All methods were used, from electric shocks to beating the lying man over the head with pickaxe boots.
Why didn’t they leave? (grandparents) For it was their principled position. “This is my land, my home, my country – Ukraine! I will leave it only when they push me out of the house with machine guns in my back,” the grandmother constantly repeats.
Moreover, even if she wanted to leave, the possibilities are melting with each passing day. At first, the fascists simply turned their vehicles around on the oblast border. Now there is more and more news about the civilians wishing to leave the city and being shot. There are dead and wounded. My grandmother falls asleep every night with a prayer on her lips, begging to wake up in the morning. In the morning, she thanked God for welcoming the new day. Under the sound of constant shelling and explosions, she plants flowers in the yard and washes carpets because she is waiting for me to come home. And struggles to believe that these horrible sounds at night are the work of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on hostile positions, which brings my native land closer to de-occupation.
Photo on the left is of the Author at a local mall in Kherson before the invasion.
Photo on top is the same mall today.
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