These five years have been so difficult for me with all their obvious simplicity. Let me tell you about myself, and you will draw your own conclusions.
My life was envious in May 2014. Home, work, friends, second job and one more. All three are beloved, for my own pleasure, occupational. I certainly could not complain about professional lack of demand.
Since May 2014, everyone around me began to speak out their version of leaving Luhansk for that very special case. By all accounts, my family also needed to discuss it. Sit at the table, look round and think out the channels of retreat. We did not do this. Obviously, this already suggests that we did not take what was happening seriously enough.
Also, I, as a fully adult human, was all the time missing a number of those who, like a preacher, would calmly explain everything to me, make some predictions and calm me down. I could not figure it out by myself, and everyone around me shouted in all kinds of ways and made various forecasts, one worse than the other. At some point, I just stopped listening to these conversations, obstructing myself with my headphones or work. It was probably a kind of defense when some point of expectation had already been passed.
I remember the moment when a colleague gave all of us a link to the eyewitness recollections of the war in Serbia. It talked about how to disinfect water and dig wells in yards, how to defend and survive during a military conflict. Step-by-step instructions on how to survive in the war zone. By the way, I used nothing of this. We never dug a well, and if we had weapons in our house, I would not have found how to use it. But this step-by-step instruction on how to survive in the war zone was terrifying. Is this really waiting for us?!
Then there was chaos. We were dismissed in hindsight. There was no work because there was no light and there was no need for us. All my works were over at one moment…
Another revelation was that we were hostages of this war, a loose change, a line of the next report and not much else. It seemed to me that it does not have to be this way. Since we stayed in Luhansk, we should somehow be taken care of and be informed. If they asked me "who should: Ukraine, Russia, local authorities?", I would not answer, because neither one, nor the other or the third was felt. But someone should!..
Fear was the new component of everything. Background. Permanent condition. Then cynicism came – "it is better right away". Well, since this is inevitable, let it be right away, without endless torment and expectations. I ceased to want hiding, although shelling frightened to an animal state of horror.
One day, our hens felt down in a dead faint because of the shootings. No, they were not killed by the explosion - they could not stand the decibel of the shelling. My neighbor told how he cried over dead rabbits whose ears blew during the shelling.
There was much more. Dead man on the grass shocked me less than the looting of firefighters before my eyes. Suddenly, I realized that I could lie and demand help. Pass through the cordons of bearded men with weapons, having confidence instead of a pass. I can convince, but at the same time, it was obvious that my requests were disdainful, like an outstretched hand of a beggar on the way.
I also unexpectedly discovered that this war was a pain in the neck. I cannot listen to or talk about it anymore, I cannot empathize and am not ready to get used to new groups. It was a post-stress syndrome, when a new job and a new team seemed to me a betrayal of the recent happy past. It seemed to me that they had skinned me alive and twist the knife. I deceived myself that everything was not true. That morning will come, and I will again run to my favorite entourage, because it has been so for many years.
Dreams about work were repeated, as if I had a double life - in an unloved entourage by day and in the pre-war past at night. You know, when I realized that there would be no return? When two years later, I stopped recognizing my former office in my dreams. When it became clear that these were just dreams with a fantastic plot, but always a happy ending.
Another feature inherent in everyone who returned to Luhansk or did not go anywhere is the desire to tell how everything was with him. These conversations from the usual question, "Have you left?" and literally immediately, "And I…" flashed like fire in plain. Attempts to figure out everything, saying over and over the chronology of personal stress. Exhausting heart-to-heart talk with both your entourage and any Tom, Dick or Harry.
Then an unexpected understanding came – it is all the same to the whole world. You are a line of statistics for them, a victim of shelling or a hostage, interesting only in reports, but not personally. The news is watching about us as well as about a war somewhere in a distant African country. Interesting, but not more. Then they go to make salads, cradle their children, love their women and forget about us right away by switching the channel. The understanding has come that nobody needs us. Not at all.
And one more, - why us? Are we worse than the rest? We are like a leper colony for the whole world. This is why I wanted to tell everyone about us. Obtrusively - let them listen.
A new feature appeared much later - provincialism despite the fact that we are residents of the "capital". Fear of trains and roads, fear of new places, childish excitement from the tram seen. Distrust, tightness and … an amazing feeling that the whole world is under an obligation to us. "I came to you from Luhansk, from war, do you understand this?!", - a man in the Crimea shouted, demanding the best suite. I caught myself that I would definitely add to the word "far" - "to Luрansk", as if it was important to know for the seller of cookies in a distant Russian city. Will cookies melt on the way to distant Luhansk?
So the crippled seeks to expose his wounds before the healthy ones in order to enjoy the effect of the impression made. It is as if everyone is under an obligation to us, and we take the rap instead of them. While they sleep peacefully, we are being shoot at. Even if so, but the whole world will know about us.
I hate myself for this new trait and cannot yet overcome it. I willingly tell casual acquaintances about the war, like old sailors told tall tales for a cannikin of rum and pinch of snuff. I hate myself for this too, because I… like to answer these questions about the war. I am an expert in the matters of survival for strangers, as an experienced seller of CDs or coffee machines.
I also learned what stigmatization is, when I was told once and again that only bad mother could leave her child under shelling that summer. And only a madman did not leave the city voluntarily at that time…
I became different. Prickly like a hedgehog. Suspicious. With almost no smile. I became not pleasant to myself, let alone the others. And this is the path of five years, only five years. What will be next?
Olha Kucher, Luhansk, for OstroV