–It fell here. But didn’t break. But on the other side, the wall was full of holes. It was never as scary as then.
Valentina’s voice breaks, her eyes fill with tears. Her tale meanders–one moment she’s joking and waving her arms, the next her lips shake and tears pour in a stream. She speaks with such a strong Ukrainian accent I sometimes can’t follow.
She lives in Pervomaysk, LPR. She has diabetes and lip cancer. She’s also all alone.
We brought her aid and, before we even crossed the threshold, she ran across the house to show us the photos.
–We have to run, it’s getting dark, please forgive us.
But Valentina hasn’t heard us. She got a box out and started showing us photos.
–That’s me as a young medic. Yeah! At the age of 32, I worked at a children’s hospital. You see?
She runs through the photos. Hands them to us, gives detailed descriptions, who’s where. Then again shyly looks for something in the box.
–Just a second, I’ll find it. See?
She wipes her eyes with her hand. Tears flow regardless of emotions. She tries to joke, but her words all lead to the fact she’s alone.
It was hard for me to look her in the face–Valentina’s lower lip is twisted, it has a large swelling which attracts attention. I look away, trying to rest my eyes on something else. The house is full of icons, on the wall, cupboards, shelves. The garden was hit by shells, the house was damaged by fragments. Some holes were patched up, others still visible.
–The sister died together with her husband in August of ’14. Their house was hit, died instantly.
She once again looks into the box and, it seems, sorts through photos with trebled energy.
–Here, here, let me show you.
–Two. Also grandchildren. Live near St. Petersburg.
Valentina was frantically running to and fro. She kept showing us things, tried to say her peace.
Then she stared at me. And I’m wearing a blue costume: “Please, Snow Maiden, forgive the old lady. You must be tired.”
I was so ashamed, so very ashamed, that we tried to leave quickly.
If you are reading this post, please call or, even better, visit Pervomaysk.
Perhaps you’ve never seen your grandmother. It happens. But she has nobody else, and nobody else but you has any use for her.
She’s in a bad state. She is lost in this big house with icons and photos.
She’s ill, nobody knows how much time she has left.
It’s a war there–her sister and husband were killed in their own home. Shells keep falling on the city.