АвторAuthor: Kateryna Bankova | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk
25 August 2022
Due to the russian aggression, Darya was left without a home in Gostomel and without a job. So the English teacher by profession became a soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, switched to Ukrainian and pushed out her relatives from russia from her life. Dasha shared her story with the journalists of the “Monologues of the War” project.
Literally in a few days, we were supposed to take people to Gudauri to conquer mountain peaks – Vlad and I organized author tours around Ukraine and abroad. We just returned from the Carpathian visit, and before the new one we had to go to Zhytomyr Oblast on business. On February 23, we reached our destination.
On the 24th, we did not hear the explosions – we were sleeping. We were woken up by a call from a friend. “It has begun.” And we planned there and back, we did not take things with us, documents as well. It is not clear what to do. The worst thing was fear for my parents – they live 800 kilometers away from me.
We thought about going back or not, but then we decided not to risk – what if we can’t leave later, what if we don’t find fuel? Panic gripped us!
Four of us lived in Gostomel – me and Vlad and two of our friends: Vasya and Max. The boys were at home that day. Planes were already flying to Antonov airport, and our house is just nearby. Vasya took as many of our things as he could, put them in a suitcase, and brought it to us. Max remained calm and said that it would all be over now, everything would be fine. He was there until the evening of the 24th, then we still convinced him to leave, because rockets had already started raining down on the city. You don’t understand what’s going on. Terrible feelings. You understand that everything that was talked about has now become a reality. The first day passed quickly. The second and the third too. We did not get off the phone – we read all the news that existed.
Max went to serve, he was among those who repelled Irpin. He could see our house across the river. When he told it, there were very strange emotions. Gostomel was released. At that time, only the military could move around the city. Max went home, took some valuable things for me, which were on the first floor – the second, where Vlad and I lived, burned down together with the third. When he entered the house, the first thing he saw was bandages and blood on the couch. The russians were hiding there, probably trying to help the wounded. And what struck me the most when I saw the photos from there was that we had alcohol, so they got everything, and drank it from expensive glasses, you know? I thought: “Ah, you aristocratic bit**es!”
We had a big JBL speaker at the entrance. Expensive, it costs about 10 thousand UAH. Vlad’s friends gave him a birthday present just for our get-togethers. It was stolen When the boys left, they forgot to take her, in fact, they all planned to return. There was not even such an idea that the russian military would directly enter houses and steal. Maybe they took something else, I don’t know. It was obvious that they tried to unscrew the TV on the first floor, but they couldn‘t.
We cannot return to Gostomel now – our house was on the front line. All the houses nearby have been destroyed and cannot be repaired.
We stayed with Vlad’s parents in Zhytomyr Oblast for two weeks, thinking about what to do. He told me that he wanted to go to serve. We understood that it would be difficult, because those who did not have experience were not hired. I asked my father, and he is a military man, what to do, whether it is worth going to my small homeland, maybe there are vacancies there. We both have higher education, and they need people. But we were refused everywhere.
When rockets were fired at Zhytomyr, my hands were shaking. We thought we should go. When it hit not far away, we finally dared. I suggested the South of Ukraine, my relatives are there, although the situation is also unclear – whether there will be an attack from Transnistria or not. But we still decided to go there and look for an opportunity to serve, as we wanted.
Such an irony – our Max, when we left for the Carpathians on the 13th, said that if there was a war, we would pack our things and go to the Military Commissariat. He is such that I believed his words, but I did not want the very possibility of war. And all four of us, who lived in the house in Gostomel, are now on duty. Why did I go? Vlad said: “I will go”, and I said that I would go too. Many reasons. I wanted to be useful, prove something to myself, learn new skills, learn military affairs, handle weapons. After all, we live in such a time. And one more reason – I didn’t want to go abroad, study English, teach. I was not in that state. I didn’t want to blog. Well, how could I not think about the war? People are killed in our country, what kind of education, what kind of English?
By the way, in the Carpathians we heard that there would be an attack, it was on February 14. Then I was hysterical, it was difficult, I cried. Then, when nothing happened, I thought: “Oh, nothing will happen, it’s all nonsense.” No one believed.
We arrived in Odesa, stayed with my parents for a few days, and then friends told me that there were places in the Armed Forces. That’s how we got there – I went to my department, Vlad went to his. We see each other every other day or even every day, in different ways. In fact, we were always together before. It’s emotionally difficult, but we manage not to quarrel. We will go through this war together.
My life until February 24 was very cool. We traveled a lot. My boyfriend and I started a tourism business and planned to develop it. I had several business ideas of my own. I taught English and ran a thematic blog. I was engaged in stretching and held marathons for girls. And in one day, all this was crossed out. But we accepted it. We consulted and decided for ourselves that we are ready to go for a year. We understand that it will not be less than a year, we accepted it with understanding. We consider ourselves patriots of Ukraine, and in such difficult times we are ready to be here, no matter what. There is fatigue, but everyone is tired. When I’m mentally exhausted, I think of the guys who are in the dugouts, in bad conditions. Here is our Max in the East in very dangerous conditions. Vasya is also in a very unstable situation, so I’m not complaining. It is much easier for us.
If someone had told me a year ago that I would be giving an interview as a military officer, I would have believed it, because I love adventures, I am an unpredictable person. But the fact that under such conditions… There were a lot of events this year.
I switched to Ukrainian. This is an identity, we have to show it. I have always loved language, but where I was born, people spoke either russian or mixed кussian-Ukrainian dialect. In the last year, many Ukrainian-speaking people appeared in my environment. My boyfriend speaks Ukrainian. When we all lived together, Vasya and Vlad were Ukrainian speakers, and Max and I were Russian speakers. And a few weeks before the war, Max and I decided to completely switch to Ukrainian. At first our attempts were ridiculous, but we tried. The boys supported us. When the war started, I wrote in russian for a while, and then I realized that I didn’t want to explain anything to the russians. I decided to blog in Ukrainian, at least its written part. At first it was unusual, but now somehow I don’t even think about it. Sometimes I switch to russian in everyday life, but mostly — Ukrainian It is very motivating that more and more Ukrainians are switching to their native language, it is inspiring.
I don’t want to say much about it, but I have a native uncle, aunt and brothers in Russia. They support the war – “special operation”. They wrote such things that I don’t want to mention it. These people don’t exist for me, I don’t care what their future is.
I plan to finish my service. I don’t know when the war ends, I’m definitely ready to serve for a year. And we’ll see. Maybe the war will end sooner, and we will return to our usual life sooner. I really want this. I don’t plan to serve in the future – it’s a great experience, but I don’t want to dedicate my life to it.
When Ukraine wins, I would like to gather with all my friends in a big company, many of us are now in different parts of the world. We will celebrate this big day. We believe in victory.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Kateryna Bankova | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk
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