The story of Vita from Dnipro

I went to bed with the thought that I might not wake up in the morning

After the outbreak of the war, she and her family left for Italy to stay with their relatives. Then, they came to Georgia—to stay here for a short period of time. Here is her story:

I remember waking up on the night of February 24: I had a feeling of deep fear and anxiety, I did not understand what was happening to me. It was a few hours before the attack began. Some sort of premonition. I went back asleep for a little while and then woke up again at 8 in the morning, picked up the phone, and…my screen was filled with dozens of messages from my relatives—they were being shelled in Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv. It was like a fog.

It may now seem like 4 days is nothing, too little. But back then, it seemed like forever. I was constantly browsing the news and couldn’t stay out of my phone for more than 5 minutes. I constantly thought that if I did not follow the news, I would miss something important—an update about my city being bombed or where to run. Whenever I’d put the phone down, I would  immediately feel overbearing anxiety.

I couldn’t afford to sleep for more than an hour.

I was reading the news and was watching Ukrainian cities being bombed. It was scary that my city, Dnipro, would also be under attack. I went to bed with the thought that I might not wake up in the morning. I calmed myself down with the thought that no rocket could be directed at our house because there were a lot of houses around. But who knows.

These days, I couldn’t do anything that wasn’t related to the war. I went looking for a sound bomb shelter—I could not find it. They are all in a terrible state, completely unfit for a long stay. In fact, it was unclear what was more dangerous—to stay in a house or in a bomb shelter that lacks normal ventilation, water access, etc.

There was one moment: I was walking down the street and heard a siren that sounded like a police or an ambulance. Everything inside me froze. Some voice shouted «Attention!» but I can’t tell if it actually happened or not. My brain went like this: «Well, here it goes—everything has begun!».

My hands got sweaty, I began to contemplate where to run: home or to a bomb shelter. This confusion went on for several seconds, my heart was pounding very strongly.

From the beginning of the war, our relatives living abroad tried to persuade us to leave. Mom didn’t want to, she usually said: «Stop this tantrum, everything will be fine». My brother and I considered her attitude odd. Because of this, we were fighting between each other, sometimes getting to the very edge. I could not convince her that it was time to move to a safe place. I didn’t want to go alone either. I felt desperate, it was a difficult moment. Eventually, though, we convinced my mother to agree to  leave.

At first, it was possible to buy train tickets, but then, the sales stopped. When we came to the station, we saw a large panicking crowd that was turning into a stampede. There were a lot of dark-skinned people who spoke English, and apparently, just because I said “I have a ticket”, we managed to get through them. The train was full.

Usually, a typical compartment fits 4 people, that day, there were 20 people in each: people were lying on the floor, on suitcases, anywhere. The air was filled with deep anxiety.

The train’s light were turned off, we were forbidden to use our mobile phones—so that the aviation wouldn’t see us and drop a bomb. It’s such a terrible flashback: you are on a train, everything is dark, everyone is silent—it was all very surreal, as if you are in a horror movie or a nightmare. Whenever someone turned on their phone, just for a second, they faced squalls of negative statements. It’s understandable, though—everyone was afraid that the train would be it by a bomb.

10 August 2022

Georgia, Tbilisi, St. Petersburg 7
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