The story of Natalia from Kiev
I could only keep hoping, keep praying, keep searching
My parents lived in Mariupol and were caught in the middle of the siege when the war began. We lost contact on May 2nd. I lived in Kiyv, from there I had to flee the bombings through West Ukraine and to Europe.
For forty-five long days I heard nothing from my parents. I created a working group in Telegram with my former classmates and relatives that were away from Mariupol so that we could exchange information.
Around April 10th, when the fire ceased for a bit, somebody sent me a video: volunteers handing out food to Mariupol citizens, who, at that time, had already spent more than a month in their basements, in their bombed houeses: without food, without water, without medical aid.
I saw my mother in that video: she was standing there, holding porridge, thankful for not dying from hunger. The video was short, only three seconds long, yet still it was enough to give me hope.
I contacted that volunteer organization, gave them my mother’s address, and asked them to check up on her the next time they’re in town. There was no next time. The attacks on the city resumed with twice the power. All the videos from that time, filtered by the borough, the district, the street where my parents lived, were horrifying. Seeing them, contemplating whether your parents survived, whether a bomb hit their house… I can’t wish that to anyone. It is petrifying.
I asked everyone who was away from Mariupol to check the two addresses where my parents could go (if they survived), and soon I heard that they got out.
That was a miracle! They simply got lucky: the missile struck the entrance to the basement of their house, where they prepared food and made bonfires during the days of the shellings, yet they were not there when the bomb struck.
My parents are quite old. Both have diabetes, they used to take a whole bucket of specialized drugs, and now they had nothing. As weak and malnourished as they were, they managed to get beyond the city borders.
We lost everything in Mariupol this spring: our home, our garage, our car. It all burned down, it was all bombed… My parents knew staying in either Ukraine or Russia spelled certain death, so I started to pave through their way to Georgia, since all the other routes are way too hard for them.
We opened the new chapter of our lives in a special way: upon arriving in Georgia, my stepfather immediately asked if he could somehow make the relationship with my mother legal here. They’ve been living together for seven years, yet still haven’t married.
We prepared for the ceremony in secrecy, and when the marriage happened, and the groom and bride signed the contract, it was very heartwarming.
I can never wish war onto somebody else. Yet, at times, such experience can help value life much, much more…
13 September 2022