A young woman in Ukraine
Her name is Mariya Volgushina. Or, more properly, in Ukrainian, Мария Вольгушина.
She is an illustrator. A young, very talented illustrator. My sister found her on the internet when we were looking for someone to illustrate books I had written for my nephew and niece. She did delightful illustrations for both.
Mariya lives in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, a city near the Black Sea that has been savaged by the Russians.
We don’t know how she’s doing. Her last facebook post was about ten days ago. But it’s her post from March 2 that I want to share with you. No further words are necessary:
“I couldn't breathe, eat, sleep for the first three days. Three hellish days without sleep, (now I can sleep only with sleeping pills). About ‘breathing’ is not just an abstract expression, no, it is literally, on a physical level, as if the lungs and the heart were compressed. Your bombs and rockets are hell that descends on earth, everything that is dear to you becomes so ghostly, translucent, it can disappear and dissolve at any moment, and time lasts endlessly. When friends from one point of town write: Rockets just flew over their houses in your direction, wait, it's hard to breathe. You constantly call, write to your relatives and friends, how, where, if they are alive. The sounds of automatic queues, tank invaders, howling of air alarm, fights in the city, explosions - have become familiar. I will not write that they bombed, the list is endless, our central avenue is in ruins. Lost 5.5kg in 6 days. At a friend's child cries and screams in the middle of the night in the basement ‘mom, they're shooting, bomb’. The snotty ‘we are for peace’, ‘I'm out of politics’, ‘everything will get better’, ‘oh, I can't watch the news’ ‘everything will be fine’ and other ‘peace pigeons’ - make me sick. They kill us - and you are out of politics, everything that is inconvenient ‘it's fake’, ‘you bomb yourself, that one’. The phrase ‘I am for peace’ (and similar) now means ‘I am not against war’! To remain silent is a crime. How do you live with that then? How do you make an agreement with your conscience? What's your go to calm yourself down?
DON'T QUIET, write, speak up, go out, or unfriend me.”
NOTE: I heard, at last, from Mariya today, April 5. This is what she wrote me via facbook messenger:
“The front line is 25 km from our city, but from their positions, Russian troops are bombarding us with cluster munitions and missiles, so the safety is relative.
Yes, something happens every day, just not enough moral strength to post it. Many hospitals in our city are shelled, schools, even kindergartens, it's terrible.
Yesterday 10 people died on the street, 60 were injured, because a shell flew into a busy part of the city.
But I believe that Ukraine will soon win this war.”
We’re relieved that she’s alive. Safe? Who can tell? It’s heartbreaking.