This is what you usually say when people from Donetsk want to rent a flat you have to let. You do not want us to rent your flats. You are not very happy to hire us and sometimes you even stop reading our CVs after you have seen the “place of residence” or “work experience”. You do not like our cars in your yards, we park badly and in general we do everything badly. Sometimes you even shout at us.
Lost. Part 1
Is it a good plot? Would you watch this film? Can you imagine, that we have been living in it for months. In our mind, we still live in our homes. We used to think that we had a sunlit city, a carnival rumbling nearby, a park smelling of rain, a boulevard which was running forward like a beautiful arrow... But one day all of it was taken away from us. We were woken up by shellings, we took the most necessary things and left “just for a couple of weeks till it all calms down a bit”. We are still going through those “couple of weeks” as we cannot end them. Just because it suddenly turned out that the city remained (torn by bullets, but it is still the same in general), its offices are still there and even the beautiful arrow of the boulevard is still in its usual place. But we are not recognized there. We are told: you do not belong here.
This is not yours, damned fascists.
We are left between two universes. In this one you sometimes reproach us for bringing the war to Ukraine, and in that one, can you imagine? - those, who have left their cities are reproached for the same reason. Maybe because we did not stop those who wanted “to die in Russia”, maybe because we refused to share that nightmare with them. Their “liberators” are shooting, and they are blaming us for waiting for those who will protect us.
We just wanted to live, we did not want our children to shudder as they hear shellings, we wanted to have a job which would allow us to work for our country, we wanted to protect our houses. And we wanted to live in Ukraine. That was why we chose Ukraine but it was a one way ticket as it turned out. Ukraine did not reject us but it somehow stopped caring about our home. To block bank accounts, to eliminate the postal service, to stop paying pensions...
It looks like we could stop caring about our homes as well - we are not there any more. However, we cannot do that because our our elderly live there, out homes are there, our clocks which we left tick there and out neighbours water our plants. We miss our homes so badly that we are constantly ill and nothing cures us. We are not exhausted by new climate or by lack or warm clothes. We are torn by grief and we will not live until we are able to buy a ticket home again. A lot of people will never be able to buy it. Some houses are destroyed completely, some have been looted, and going back there will mean suicide.
We are ashamed that we, people from Donetsk, are millstones round your necks. You cannot reject us because you are noble, but you cannot live with us either. We will be a problem for a long time.
However, you know, we are finally ready to tackle this problem with you. After going through these months of being uprooted, we have understood a very important thing: we do not want anyone else in Ukraine to go through this. We have also understood that the most important thing for our nation is to respect all its representatives. We have realized that this is something that makes us different. As long as there are people in Ukraine who do not shut their doors on internally displaced persons and who are ready to do more than they have to, who help IDPs adapt to their new life, our country will sustain even those “Grads” which a “brotherly” nation shells us with. We can see that you are trying hard and though we are still a “territory” of grief and despair, we feel a bit better when you just help us.
We are ready to work and to go through hardships without complaining. Do not believe those who tell you that we will refuse to do anything as all the country owes us something. The majority of us have come to your places to work with you. And the only thing we need is not an attempt to entertain us but a wish to understand us. If you turn your backs on us now, Ukraine will lose. If you refuse once, you will not even notice when you will stop caring, and our country is not like that. Ukraine is an example of heartiness, forgiveness and kindness.
Although it may seem to you right now that we are begging and we do not deserve your love, this is not true. We will pay you back when Donetsk becomes a Ukrainian city again. If we get your forgiveness and understanding, if we become full of your kindness, we will be a part of a nation which will be called great then. We did not have any idea about its grandeur, but now we, Donetsk residents will be the first ones to tell the whole world about it.
We just want someone to tell us that we still exist.
Anna Khrypunkova, DonPress
New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of two articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout. You can subscribe here.