I only cried twice

Hanna, Zhitomirska Oblast, 24.03.2022

I only cried twice

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A good life hack: if you feel anxious about reports of a possible full-scale war, you just wire money to volunteers who help the army and keep on honestly doing your job.

The day is also stressful due to work-related business, as students are defending their historical research at the (Small) Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (AOS). One student researched the history of our city in the 19th century, and another - the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, recording an interview with a former employee of the radiology laboratory. We had no idea that in a few days the Russian occupiers would seize the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plants, shelling the latter and putting the world on the brink of a new catastrophe, far more serious than the 1986 catastrophe.

We had no idea that in a week the 9th-grader would be answering the question, whether he was in a safe place or left somewhere? Of course, he stayed at home, given the defence of his research project (at AOS) is not over yet, and so much more could be still added to it.

We did not know that the children would refuse leaving to safer places, claiming that it is better to die at home, that “the grandmother is ill, she constantly needs to take pills and I refuse to go without her.” We didn't know that a child from a troubled family would call the head teacher, asking if she had food, because some cheap groceries were delivered at the neighbourhood store, and could he buy and deliver them.

We didn't know that our students would volunteer so much and help others.

We had no idea how wonderful our life was until the morning of February 24. A month has already passed, but I still catch myself thinking that it's just some horrible dream that I'm about to wake up from and everything will be as before. And our people are alive, our homes are safe, our museums are intact, the victims of Babyn Yar are not being killed for the second time by bombs disturbing their last resting place, our children are not sitting in bomb shelters, and we end our classes by explaining the homework instead of saying, “Children, an air alert has been issued, please proceed to safe places.

I am relatively safe (Zhytomyr region), as well as a large part of my family (Khmelnytsky region). I only cried twice this month: on the first day, realizing that everyone was at work, and my grandmother, who hardly walks, will not be able to hide (the military airfield is less than 20 kilometers away and it was bombed in the morning). And the second time, while looking at another, so similar, so incredibly bright grandmother, realising that if mine dies, I will hardly be able to say goodbye.

As a historian, I believe that history is cyclical, and that hundreds of parallels can be drawn with the actions of the Nazis and the Russians (indeed, it is not only Putin who is to blame for the war!). As an ordinary person, I believe that evil will be stopped and punished. Ukraine was one of the countries hit the hardest during World War II, and today the Russians came to our land with the slogan “we can repeat.“ They are destroying not only our cities, but also our lives and our future. We will endure. But at what cost?”