The war in Ukraine has been going on for a month. The shortest and the longest month in the life of every Ukrainian is an accurate way to describe it. It was a terrifying month. We cried many times, froze with pain and horror on so many occasions, directed words of hate and anger towards the occupants again and again. Many Ukrainians lost their loved ones, families and their homes. Many are under siege or under constant fire.
Almost half of Ukrainian families were broken – men stayed in Ukraine while their wives and children became refugees in Western Ukraine or in Europe. More than 100 Ukrainian kids lost their lives. It was a very scary month. The shortest and the longest in life of each Ukrainian.
Nevertheless, it was a month of big LOVE. For me personally, this turned out to be the biggest turmoil and the biggest guarantee of our victory. Do you know what Ukrainians do most frequently? They hug. Those hugs seemed absolutely vital. Sometimes the hugs are virtual. Daily morning round ups of all family members and friends with messages “how are you?” became a modern way of saying “I love you”.
Humanity revealed itself in numerous acts of irrational kindness. Somewhere a soldier is feeding a street dog from his ration, a volunteer is going through enormous boxes of humanitarian aid to find toys for kids at the border refugee camp. My friend send me a small package of tiny cakes and a hand cream with my favourite scent. A family receiving refugees had bought all of them matching pyjamas so they would feel at home.
Photo which the whole world had seen (it was in Wall Street Journal): Anastasia Tykha with her husband had saved 15 dogs from occupied Crimea and Irpin near Kyiv. Photo: Christopher Occhicone.
Singing or making theatre performances in a bomb shelter is irrational, but very important and humanistic. Ukrainians sing in basements, play instruments, pet cats and dogs, read out loud to others, play games. Street cafés are open again in Kyiv and are making amazing pictures on your coffee foam. They do it because that is the only way to feel a bit of normality and beauty in one’s life.
Do you know what else opened in Kyiv apart from the cafés? Some flower shops. Yes, one can buy flowers in Kyiv today, because it’s spring after all!
Coffee in Kyiv. Clockwise: Romas stole a tank, F..k off to Russia street signs, Good night, we are from Ukraine.
Olesya Drashkaba “Hate for the enemies – love for our own!”
Sign in a shop window: “Alcohol isn’t sold here – we keep it for Putin’s funeral. Glory to Ukraine!” Ukraine is now under temporary prohibition.
War is lots of pain and even more unity. There are no more homes where people wouldn’t know their neighbours. Giving your house keys to a neighbour with the words : “Take whatever you need” is a completely normal act. Taking care of someone’s pets or evacuating them is a frequent occurrence. Restaurants cook for the army and people who are alone. Women bake bread and give it out at the checkpoints.
Ukrainian army gets so much care and love from Ukrainians that territorial defence cannot comprehend that the lives of Russian soldiers are no longer important even to their own families.
Label on the jar given to the fighters: “After our victory, return the jars to Kalativ village. Glory to Ukraine!”
Another way of love and support is humour and art. Numerous memes, posters, songs, videos, edits have been created by Ukrainians in just one month that it will be enough for three pavilions of the Venecian biennale. Today we often cry, but we laugh even more frequently.
Poster by Maksim Palenko
Poster by Andrey Yermolenko
Poster by Maksim Palenko “Month”
Poster by Andrey Yermolenko “Welcome to Chornobayivka”.
Laugh, love, care, beauty, spring – no Putin or orcs, no “Grads” and “Iskanders” could possibly take it away from the Ukrainian people. While Russians are weeping, fight for sugar in shops and line their kids up in the shape of swastikas, Ukrainians prefer hugging, helping each other, laughing at the adventures of Russians in Chornobayivka and thank our Army.
Therefore, we have already won because humanity always has a bright future, whereas Zombies don’t. All we have to do now is to kick these useless occupants off our land.
Author ExterUA, exclusively for The Center for Civil Resistance – Res Publica.