АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk
26 August 2022
Tamara Yanina met her fate on the Internet. A few days were enough for them to understand that they are a whole. Later, out of great love, a son, Nazariy, was born, who is currently only three years old. The boy was left without a father, because he heroically died defending Mariupol. The woman told the “Monologues of the war” project about her family life and bereavement.
I am from Khmelnytskyi, I was born and live here. My husband is from Zaporizhzhia. We met on the Vkontakte social network. We started talking and within a week I was packing a transfer for him to the base in Yuriyivka, where he was stationed. We quickly fell in love with each other. In a month, in April, I went to see him for the first time, we met in Berdyansk – the city of our meetings… We had a day and a half to make sure that we were not mistaken in our choice. And we were not mistaken…
On June 2, Oleksa proposed to me at the Written Stone, a place I dreamed of visiting. And already on August 23, we got married, without celebrations, just the two of us, but happy that we became a family. And within a year we found out that we will have a child. In February 2019, our son Nazariy was born. The man who was present at the birth actually welcomed his son into this world, because he cut the umbilical cord.
Oleksa has been in the war since 2014, and when we met, he was in Azov on contract service. By the way, he had the call sign “Indeets”. I went to see him in Berdyansk once a month, for about a few days. And once every six months he had a two-week vacation — that was all our time together…
And when I got pregnant, he began to resign from the regiment, but it was not a quick process. Oleksa came to see me in Khmelnytskyi when I was already 8 months pregnant. We lived together for 1.5 years and he decided to return to Azov again, because he could not sit quietly while the war was going on in the country.
And in general, before the start of the war in 2014, Oleksa was engaged in coaching boxing, and worked as an electrician at the leading factories of Zaporizhzhia.
I really don’t remember much from that day. And all in some parts. I woke up to phone calls that a full-scale invasion of Russia had begun and that the first rockets had been fired at us at 4 in the morning.
A husband called, he was already in Mariupol at that time, he arrived at the station at 6 in the morning and immediately went to the position from there. I remember that I immediately turned on the radio, all the airwaves were only news about what had happened. I was afraid for my husband, for my son and me, for everyone…
My husband was on vacation from February 14, he was supposed to return to the base on March 5. On February 20, we celebrated our son’s birthday, and the tension was already actively growing. My husband always wanted to get a vacation. But on February 22, the commander called him and ordered him to urgently return to the base by February 24. And at 5 a.m. on February 23, my husband left home for the train to Mariupol, and that was the last time we saw each other…
Until the beginning of March, while there was still communication in Mariupol, my husband called us several times every day. He was cheerful, in a fighting mood. When the connection was lost, we also corresponded on Telegram several times a day. That was until March 10. He then disappeared for a week, as it turned out, he was wounded in the leg. From the middle of March, he started to write less often, about once or twice a day. The mood was no longer so optimistic, but he still believed that he would return to us. And from the 20th of March, he began to write such things: all I want is to survive and return to you, my family. And his message began with the words “I’m still alive”… I didn’t understand then what it was all leading to…
During the entire time of the full-scale war, my son and I never left Ukraine. I couldn’t imagine how I could leave my husband who is on the frontline, defending us. I could not imagine how I could leave all my relatives and friends. And I still don’t understand why I have to leave my house?! It’s the russians who should leave my house, not me! Many people “advised” me to leave the country, to think about a child. And I had an internal protest against these tips. I was constantly looking for a reason to stay: first I was waiting for my husband from the war, then he was wounded – I waited, maybe he would be evacuated to a hospital for treatment, then I waited for his body… And now I don’t care what anyone advises me there. My husband was killed in the war. I will not go anywhere.
I found out about the death almost from the Internet: the wife of Oleksa’s brother called me and started talking about some post on social networks about my Oleksa, saying that he had died. I found that post, wrote to the wife of the author of the post. And the news of the death was confirmed to me. Then the patronage service of Azov called and was officially informed about his death.
My life after April 7 is existence, not life. I don’t want anything, there is no joy, I don’t understand why he died, because he promised to come back and defend my son and me. He always came back.
The 7th of any month is a mark on my soul. Now it will always be like that. Nothing will ever change. Now it will always be so!… How scary it sounds when you start to realize, delve into this phrase.
A month after the news, I cried non-stop. I took my son to kindergarten only so that I could cry so that my son would not see. A month later, I came to my senses a little and realized that there are widows who have a harder time, because they also lost their housing, work, support of relatives and friends, because they were evacuated from the occupied territories. And I slowly began to help them.
At first there were four families of fallen heroes, then slowly the number of families began to increase. And so, for three months now, I have been dealing with the families of fallen heroes, covering their needs, buying furniture and household appliances, paying rent for housing, utilities, and surrounding them with benefactors who help support these families.
Do you know what I will do first when the Ukrainian military retakes the occupied territories? I will go to Mariupol for the first time in my life, to my Oleksa, I will go to the city where he stayed forever.
I thought that nothing could be worse than your death. I thought that it would not be worse than in April. But I could not even imagine that the worst thing is to experience your death; survive the death of almost all your friends; to experience all these tortures of living people, men, women, elderly people and small children; to survive the mass execution of those who, together with you, protected me; relive every news story about casualties from explosions; to survive every news about the 200th soldier — and live with it now…
I now know what it’s like when a soul dies. It’s when you’re alive on the outside, doing everything as usual, but inside you’re dead. Just dead. Today, the daughter of the fallen hero of Azov told me that her uncle will come soon, and they will fool around and have fun. Her uncle is dad’s native brother.
And he will not come. Because he burned down in Olenivka yesterday. The girl does not know about this, because she has not yet recovered from the loss of her father. And I’m sitting next to her mother, and we have a “silent scene”. How to live on?.. this is not just a pathetic question, it is really my question, how should I now live on???…
Today I saw a photo of the severed hands and head of a Ukrainian soldier, which were put on some stakes or a fence. I also saw a video with a clear caption “torture and atrocities against our captive”, where a living person was stabbed in the back, he, poor man, is crawling, and they are mocking, saying something.
They were tortured all this time. They continue to be tortured. While I eat, sleep, walk with my child, go to the store – they cut off their genitals, cut off their hands and heads, stick sticks in their backs and abuse living people.
How to live with it? The only reason I’m still alive is my son. I don’t want strangers to raise him. No one will love him like I do. There are no more reasons. I’m not waiting for a body, a grave, documents, I don’t want anything. I would like to fall asleep and never wake up again if there was no child. Because I don’t know how to live with it. I just don’t understand how to live now.
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: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk