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  • Writer's pictureolyaglotka

Looking for War

It was my first 24 hours in Ukraine when I thought to myself: what if I spend a whole month in Ukraine and don't notice... War? 

If not for 2 loud bombings, my fear came true. If you really really wanted, you could go about your days in Kyiv pretending that everything is fine. That Ukrainian men and women aren't dying on the front lines every day. That thousands of Ukrainian soldiers aren't still kept in Russian prisons and hundreds of civilians from occupied territories aren't kept in make shift basement torture chambers, serving as punch bags for drunk Russian soldiers. 

I don't blame people who force themselves to forget about the war. If I lived in it for over 2 years, I'm sure I would have been there myself. 

But this is what I find the hardest in my time in Ukraine. Not the constant air alerts, the lack of electricity, cell service, rest. But the sheer emotional agony of knowing the hell your friends and your loved ones are going through on the front lines right now. 

The stories people tell you. The serious, tired faces of soldiers, passing through Kyiv on their time off. That's what wears me down. That's what keeps me awake at night. That's what makes me cry every day. 

Every day I meet people, old friends and new, who tell me of unspeakable tragedies. I don't have to ask them. They see me and decide that I need to know about it. They are very stoic about it, calm, resolved. They tell me about being stripped and searched by the enemy, about escaping occupation, about the filtration stations, about a brother who passed away last week, about a home they haven't visited in 10 years. They are stoic while I stand in front of them shaking. This pain is way too big for me to contain it. This pain the size of a country will need every single Ukrainian to join hands to wrap around it and hold it. 

I am still shaking telling you about it and such is a circle of pain. You pass it on to the outer circle and it eventually (hopefully) dissipates. It might take a couple of generations but the process has begun. In the meantime I am at a rave party in my favourite Kyiv neighbourhood. People say it used to be the second best rave scene after Berlin and I want to believe them. Hundreds of sweaty people lock their bodies in the bliss of electronic beat. They move, they shake, they process grief and loss and fear. Some foreigners ask them "How can you have so much fun while there is a war in your country?" I asked myself the same thing. Having spent a month in Ukraine, the answer is obvious: "How can you not?" How can you make through this pain without a joy or two? 

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