19 March 2022
Below is a translation of a Russian-language post on Facebook by Nadezhda Sukhorukova about what is happening in Mariupol
There’s a break in the bombing, and I go out. I have to walk my dog. She whines constantly, trembling, and hiding behind my legs. I just want to sleep the whole time. My yard, surrounded by high-rises, is quiet and dead. I’m no longer afraid to look around.
Opposite, one section of Number 105 is burning down. The flames have already devoured five floors, and are slowly chewing their way through the sixth. In one room, the fire is burning neatly, like in a fireplace. The windows are charred black; the glass is gone. Curtains, gnawed by the flames, hang out of them like flapping tongues. I watch, calm, resigned.
I’m convinced I’ll die soon. It’s only a matter of days. Everyone here lives in constant expectation of dying. I just hope it won’t be too awful. Three days ago, a friend of my eldest nephew came to see us and told us there’d been a direct hit on the fire station. People whose job is to save lives were killed. One woman had her arm, leg, and head blown off. I want my body to be intact even I’m caught in an air raid.
I don’t know why, but that seems important to me. On the other hand, I’m not going to be buried if I die while hostilities are still going on. That’s what the police told us when the grandmother of an acquaintance of ours was killed. We stopped them in the street and asked what we should do, and they told us to put her on the balcony. I wonder how many balconies have dead bodies on them.
Our house on Prospekt Mira is the only one that hasn’t taken a direct hit. Shells have fallen nearby a couple of times and blown the glass out of some of the windows, but there’s very little damage. In comparison with the other houses, ours looks pretty lucky.
The whole of our courtyard is covered in layers of ash, glass, plastic, and shards of metal. I try not to look at the iron monstrosity that came flying into the children’s play area. I think it’s a rocket, or a mine. It doesn’t matter which; it’s horrible either way.
I see someone’s face in the third-floor window and it makes me shudder. Turns out I’m scared of living people.
My dog starts howling, and I realise the shooting’s about to start again. I’m standing in the street; it’s daytime, and the whole neighbourhood is as quiet as a graveyard. No cars, no voices, no children, no old ladies at their stalls. Even the wind has died. There are a few people still here, though. Lying at the side of the house and in the car park, covered by their outer clothes. I don’t want to look at them. I’m afraid I’ll see someone I know.
The whole life of my town is smouldering in basements now. Life in Mariupol is like the candle in our section of the basement. It takes nothing to put it out. The slightest vibration or breeze, and it goes dark. I try to cry, but I can’t. I feel sorry for myself, my family, my husband, my neighbours, my friends.
I return to the basement, and sit there listening to the vile screech of metal. Two weeks have passed, and already I don’t believe I ever had any other life.
In Mariupol, people have gone to their basements, and there they stay. Each day is harder for them to get through than the one before. They have no water, no food, no light, and they can’t even go out because of the constant shelling.
The people of Mariupol must survive. Help them. Talk about what’s happening.
I want everyone to know that civilians are still being killed.
Translated by Richard Coombes