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Molokodaeva Dasha



How did you experience war in 2014? What do you remember from that? How old were you? How did 2014-2015 go for you?
Please tell this story in detail.

In 2014, I was 13 years old. The war caught me by surprise. I definitely remember that at first I didn't understand anything and the parents I asked about it also had a hard time understanding, but they tried to answer. 

I remember exactly that at first, at the time of the occupation of Kramatorsk, there was a conviction that these were really local people. Well, I'm like 13 years old, no one around me understands what's going on, and I don’t either. I think my family and I stayed at home, it is far from the center, but it seems like everyone knew that at this moment the flag of Ukraine was being taken down at the executive committee. I recently tried to remember how long Kramatorsk was under occupation and it turned out to be two months or something. It is difficult to recall the right sequence of events, but I definitely know that we as a family stayed in the city until the very end.We knew where the load-bearing walls were in the apartment, there was always a bag with important papers and money in the corner of the corridor. One more memory... In May 2014, our new family member was born, the dog Maison. In June, the owner told us to pick him up, which, as I understand now, was quite early, because the puppy should spend longer with his mother, but time was precious then, so everyone was in a hurry. And so my parents, under shelling, as it turned out later, went to pick up Maison from a neighboring village, and that’s how we now had another responsibility in this war. So every time they were shelling, we knew for sure that it happened every day between 00:30 and 1:30 in the morning... (This is my most vivid memory. I am absolutely 100 percent sure that it was during this time and every day too.)

So, in our apartment in Kramatorsk, there is only one load-bearing wall, which may be a little more than a meter long. And here we are: a thirteen-year-old girl, smaller than  should be at this age; father of serious dimensions at his age; a mother who, like a bird, takes me and my younger brother under her wings, who never heard those explosions at night, only because he slept soundly. There was also a grandmother, a small one, but a grandmother for whom there was also a place. And the main character of this tale, for me at that time, was the dog Maison, who was not even six months old, constantly barking at the explosions, did not want to hide, but ran to the window and barked at them even harder. It was not clear who he was barking at - the Ukrainian army or the russian one, which we considered "militia" at the time. We gathered behind this single load-bearing wall like Tetris and waited for something happy. At some point, the parents decided that it was necessary to get out for a while. And we went to another grandmother, who, by the way, was much closer to the skirmish line, as it was then called. We arrived in Toretsk, where explosions were almost inaudible, but sometimes disasters still happened. What happened after is difficult to remember, but not difficult to guess. Probably, Kramatorsk got liberated and we were able to return home. Most likely it was so scary because no one had any experience of communicating with military personnel, and Donbas people are such - at all these checkpoints, we spoke Ukrainian so-and-so. Only then did some sort of pro-Ukrainian position begin to form in my family. Everyone expressed it as best they could. Father sometimes tried to communicate in Ukrainian, hung a Ukrainian flag on the glove box in the car; mother did not interfere with it, and she supported him. My brother was only 6 years old, he just kept living on. Grandma watched the news and cursed at the occupiers, Maison supported her as best he could. And I mercilessly quarreled with classmates who had brainwashed families who wanted to join russia. These quarrels are also vividly etched in my memories. That’s how it all was in 2014 and in 2015. Quarrels, attempts to find out the truth, formation and acceptance of Ukrainian stances, and from time to time - explosions.

"Where were you these 8 years?".
How has this time passed for you, what changed in your life since the events of 2014?
What has influenced you the most during this time?
Please write in detail.

In fact, given the current situation, I am personally ashamed, because from the moment Kramatorsk was liberated and the front line got moved away from it, I almost did not think of all this horror. We still say that Kramatorsk was somehow lucky and there are legends that the owner of our big plant paid someone off and so on. But still, there was no anger. There was only a confusion in why this was happening to us. 
Well, that is, I did not understand with my childish head then, why within the framework of this big planet it was the Donetsk region that got into such a mess. And the thought that there are people who are still in all this did not outweigh the thought of injustice. During my studies at school, one way or another, this topic was somehow raised, but no one seemed to have reached the level of some kind of civic consciousness and responsibility russia bore for its invasion. Kramatorsk was lucky not having to think about it for 8 years. We did not know what was happening at the front, where and what was bombed and who died.It is painful and is very embarrassing to admit. At one point, my older brother went to the front by contract, then from time to time my father mentioned what it was like there, but it was not really on the agenda in my life. Now it seems that my grandmother was more attentive than everyone else, because she sometimes cried while watching the news, and I believe those tears. So where was I these 8 years... I was immersed in my own life, so adolescent and carefree, which I was lucky enough to live in this way thanks to the efforts of others somewhere out there - in the mouth of these eight years.

What was February 24, 2022 for you like?
Did you believe that a full-scale offensive would begin?Where are you now? What do you do?

What do you think about your future now?

The realization that something was going to happen came when a friend knocked on my door in the dormitory at 3 o'clock in the morning. She was worried because of the news, which I did not follow at all. She said something about the war, that Kharkiv would be the first, and we, sitting in the dormitory of the Kharkiv Academy of Arts, were thinking it's time to stock up on canned goods. Well, we approached it a bit jokingly, a bit not, but we were already preparing for something. And so it was night, I was doing my nightly chores and I felt a bit uneasy, so I decided to watch the news and started with Zelenskyi's address. I went to the kitchen, and there our local freak Seryozha was preparing a very late dinner - soup - and he really wanted to watch the address together with me. Zelenskyi says something about Donetsk, about beer at the Donbas Arena, and then Lev appears. Not the roaring type, but my friend from Kramatorsk. The three of us are already watching this address and Zelenskiy, as he can, brings me to such a sentimental note that I want to throw a party tomorrow with all my friends, a kind of "FOR THE CLEAR SKY OVERHEAD". I write to everyone in the chat, everyone likes it and we agree. It is already three in the morning. The three of us hugged in the kitchen, said goodnight and went to bed. And so I hear. Knock. A loud knock. In my brain it’s like: whatever, the dorm supervisor wants something. I don't open my eyes or the door. The knock is very loud, my neighbor gets up. Opens. Lev stands there. I look. Night. He says: "Dasha, get up! It has begun!" I ask: "What started?" He says, "War." Very dramatic of Lev, but never mind. I stood up fast, and got a Soviet blanket from under all the mattresses to cover the window, because however prepared I was, I hadn't taped it. The stressed-out neighbor breaks cornice off, while trying to throw this heavy blanket over. Shit. Okay. I gathered things quickly, everything that I needed. Winter. Pants. Socks. Sweater. Jacket. Boots. I put everything on quickly. Backpack on one shoulder. Went out into the corridor. I went to Lev. There are many people in the corridor. Everyone who was supposed to be at the “clear sky” party is now in Lev's room, under a dark sky already clouded with bombs. We called all the relatives. It was loud in Kramatorsk, my father was ready for that, and he was also ready to go to work, so there we were. The boys blocked the window with a mattress. We pulled all the groceries into one room. There were 8 of us. And we were seemingly calm. The next two weeks we spent in the basement of the dormitory. Sometimes with raids on shops that still worked and raids on the rooms of those who left. We collected food, medicine and hygiene products. In the basement, we managed to celebrate Masnytsia, the birthday of our friend Taras, set up a coworking space, arrange a war in cultural space to the best of our abilities, to adopt a white rat left by the Chinese, who were evacuated by the embassy in the first days, and also fall in love with each other anew and become a family. At one point, there were 10 of us left, including the hostel administration, which was with us all this time. Heroic women. We started preparing dinners for the soldiers from the food that was found in the building.There were also requests from volunteers to help them. Not a problem. One day, Lev and I went to deliver food to an old man through the central part of the city. We came under machine-gun fire on a nearby street, saw a lot of equipment. Got to the old man. It turned out that he was deaf. The call does not work. We knock on neighbors. She is afraid to open it. We explain who we are. She then communicates. Opens the door. Says the neighbor's name. And while Lev tries to reach him, I look at the old woman. Small, with gray hair, with one eye. She says, looking me in both eyes: "I am going through a second occupation." I get a cold sweat. I don't say anything. Old grandpa opened. He smiled. Took the bag and we left. I'm shocked.We are going home. Shelling again. Leo wants to go see more of the city. I get nervous and say he's crazy. We see a woman in the middle of an intersection. She turns to every direction around her and prays loudly. Lev shittily filmed her on the camera, which he took with him. We ran home and that day I raised the question of evacuation. Through tears and whimpering, we manage to leave Kharkiv and get to Lviv. This is it. We are here now and we are still here. And life kind of goes on, even. And I don't ever forget about the war. I won't forget. 
All of us won’t...

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