The day left a scar on my heart and will remain until it is over.
February 24 is the day that cut the hearts of all Ukrainians, but we can live with half of it. The day that showed and shows that we are the strongest people in the world. A day that started the same way for everyone in Ukraine, with the words “WAR BEGAN”. The day when the hands of true Ukrainians intertwined in one rope and kept the enemy at the borders of an INDEPENDENT, FREE country. The day that showed us all that the most important thing is the heartbeat in your body.
My war story… And I am only 17
At the beginning of 2022, I did not think that I would write a piece about how I experience war every day. It seemed to all of us that it would be only the stories of our grandparents, who would sit with our future children and quietly talk about World War 1 and 2. But, unfortunately, it will be me, I will sit and tell my children what war is. But at the beginning of the year, it was a joke, which everyone laughed at and said “Well, what war? Don’t talk nonsense, it’s the 21st century, we are all free and independent… There will be no war”.
But it began, on February 24, 2022, in the 21st century, I woke up to the words “Daughter, get up, the war has begun”, and now think for a second, what would you say to such a sentence?
My answer was “yes, I’m waking up, WHAT?” But as soon as my heels reached the floor, I heard an explosion, it was far away, but I heard it because of the wave. And that was it… then my heart broke. Many questions remained unanswered, all my dreams, everything remained on that parquet with half my soul.
Back to my life before the war
Hello, my name is Nadiia, I am from the city of Irpin. It is a city not far from Kyiv. My hobby and life’s work is dancing. After graduating from 9th grade in 2021, I entered the Academy of Arts, majoring in choreography. And I started my professional journey into the world of dance. Before that, I had been practicing Irish dancing for 9 years. The path to the academy was thorny, but every day I gladly woke up at 5 am, drove 2 hours to the academy, and spent the whole day there. I had everything in my life. I lived in a beautiful city, in an amazing country, spoke a beautiful language and taught many others, and danced.
But at 5 a.m. tanks crossed the border without the permission of my independent country and my life. Everyone is fussing, not knowing what to do because no one expected this war. We are packing, collecting water, listening to the news, and hoping that everything will be fine. All day long we saw missiles, helicopters, and airplanes flying past is – not ours.
6:30 pm on February 24, 2022, 21st century. Me, my family, our cat, and a couple of our neighbors run to the bomb shelter, which is not so far away, only 500 meters away. And then 10 days in the bomb shelter that became our home. Without communication, electricity, and a peaceful sky.
10 days on vacation is not enough, but 10 days in a bomb shelter is a lot
10 days to learn a language is not enough, but 10 days in a bomb shelter is a lot
10 days of not knowing what will happen in 1 second. Whether you will be alive or not. And I will say once again that this is not a story from the Second World War, this is a story of the war in the 21st century. As the days passed, I sat, sometimes when I could go outside to breathe the smog, to look at the smoke in the sky over my hometown. The explosions became more and more audible as they drew closer. And then came the day of March 5 – the day when I saw my home, my city, my country for the last time.
We were running from our house because someone decided that it was his house. Now just imagine, you are told “You have 20 minutes to get ready, and we are leaving” What are your feelings? A complete lack of understanding? I had the same feelings. How could I not see home and the academy as my dream? But instead, I stood on the Ukraine-Poland border for 13 hours. And here is a new life, but is it necessary? I always wanted to study and work abroad, but I wanted to do it calmly and not as a refugee.
Ukraine-Poland-Germany. Many people, minutes, and different languages and here I am in my new home. Let’s go back home to Ukraine on March 5, 2022, as I said, it took 20 minutes to collect things, of which 10 you listen to different sounds. And during these minutes I collected documents, one sweater, one pair of pants and a change of underwear, one backpack and that’s it. One backpack is 16 years of my life.
Ukrainians are strong people and so am I, so I began to live a new life with my backpack and a scar on my heart that will never heal.
The first thing that made me feel sad was the language. For the first couple of months, I did not understand anything, 85% of people know English, but not all of them. The stage of loneliness and watching the news every 5 minutes, my city was on fire in the news. It was burning, but it did not give up, just like me. Every month it was getting better, little by little I came to understand how to live, develop, and show the whole world that Ukrainians are a strong nation and even if our hearts are rotting, we are still ready for battle. Friends began to appear, and some stability. But it is hard to sit 2000 kilometers away from home.
Home is like a magnet.
Autumn brought new changes to my life – moving to Poland. Why Poland? Because its borders fit like a puzzle with my country, the language is clearer, the mentality is similar. Poland looks like my home to me.
Life will go on, but in my heart, it will always be February 24, 2022, and a big scar on my heart.
I am Ukrainian.