Maryna Skorokhod: Our previous life is not gonna be back


From the editor: Maryna’s letter was the first we got on our Ukrainian Witness mailbox on March 19. It ended with “To be continued” and we still hope to receive another email from her. The Russo-Ukrainian war caught Maryna in Irpin where she lived with her family. This town used to be a cosy Kyiv suburb hidden in pine forests. For the first month of the war, it became a frontline, a strategic obstacle for the Russian troops on their advance to the Ukrainian capital. Irpin was badly scorched by endless shelling, around 200-300 civilians died according to the major Oleksandr Markushyn. It was there the American journalist Brent Renaud was shot on March 13 while reporting on the attack of the town. On March 28, Irpin was taken back by the Ukrainian military but people are still not advised to come back there because of mines left by the Russian soldiers.

Maryna’s story strikingly catches the moment when habitual routines are falling apart with the first explosions while people are trying to keep them by inertia and accept the fact that the war has come to their homes.

Credit to the painting on the front page goes to Kateryna Kosianenko.

February 23rd on my calendar. I used to turn over the pages of my calendar every day. Today I realized that I didn't, because for me the whole Earth had stopped in the morning.

We woke up very early around 5 am from the sounds that reminded thunder. My husband's brother called him right at that moment with the words: "You know, it seems like they are bombing Kyiv". Eventually, I realized that was not thunder. Could thunder in February be possible at all?

That was a very obvious sign for everybody – our previous life is not gonna be back.

I checked the news and understood that the war had started, and my city is the target #1 – at that moment the city was already under attack.

The first two hours right after that, I tried to wake up all my close friends and relatives and not all my calls were successful. It was not because of bad connection. It was because people were sleeping expecting to wake up on the peaceful morning in their lovely and glorious country. Some of them thought that they were dialled accidentally, some assumed that it was an alarm clock on the phone and just turned it off.

Finally, while coping with all these calls and discussions I saw the first dark sunrise in my life. 

We live in the Western Kyiv suburb in the town of Irpin. We used to see a lot of traffic jams in the morning while people were trying to reach their jobs on time and this was the first morning when the cars were moving not to Kyiv, but out of it. 

I was looking at this manifestation of "panic" while preparing for my working day. A very important meeting with my colleagues was planned. I could not miss it. Finally, that meeting was cancelled and instead of it a new meeting was called under the title "Stay safe. Everything will be okay". But still it was a meeting and I could not miss it. 

Since we work remotely, I decided to wash my head, because I wanted to look pretty during the video call. Also, I had promised to send a presentation to my boss and still had not done this, so as you see I had a lot of mandatory tasks to do.

Did I think about evacuation at that moment? Honestly, I don't remember. 

We were staying home, doing our remote work, scrolling the news, texting relatives and friends, talking and chatting about the situation. I was very busy with all other things that were planned in advance in my previous life. It was almost in the afternoon when we realized that we had to leave everything – all our stuff, our newly renovated apartment which we had just bought one month before.

We didn't.

We thought it would be too dangerous to leave, because in a few hours there would be a curfew. Here I wanted to write that this was the end of the first day of the war, but actually it was not the end. Because the following days were like one dark neverending day that gave us no right for sleep or rest...

Senast uppdaterad: 2022-04-11