By Yaroslava Perminova 24.05.2014
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Just some thoughts out loud… And the only thing I feel like saying is – EFFING SHIT.
The day before yesterday, we returned from hell. Got a call from some friends, who asked to get their child out of Sloviansk. They just called and asked if there’s any way we could take their boy, a four-year-old. The way they said it… I felt my whole heart turn upside down.
We got a car. Eventually – because for a long time, no one agreed to go. Understandable. Thanks to our boss – he paid for the trip. We set out, without any spares, but with a few extra cans of gas, just in case. God bless our driver, an ex-military. We flew there like bats out of hell.
They [my friends] live on the edge of the city, and their house lies in pieces now. We got there fast. Got stopped a few times, but I was freaking out so much that the men at check points must’ve thought I was just some crazy mom. I really was scared out of my wits. I live in Kyiv, in the city center, and there hasn’t been any shooting there after Maidan. Now I’m going to pick up a child, god knows where I’m going, god knows who I’ll run into. It’s terrifying. It’s war over there. I’m writing this for all of you who, thank god, haven’t felt it yet, who don’t fully understand what’s going there. In Kyiv, it’s all cafés, evening meet-ups with friends, and talking.
Here, there are no options. We got stopped for a check-up right in the middle of the road. Gun to your face, and questions – who are you, where are you going, what’s in the car, why the hell are you coming here. On my way there, I couldn’t even imagine what it was going to be like. The real fear set in on the way back. A car with a back seat full of toddlers, and they’re all hungry, and thirsty, and need to pee, all at the same time… and they want their mommy. And they’re crying.
We knew people would meet us in Kyiv. We grabbed some water (from the tap, there wasn’t any other), a loaf of bread and some butter to put on it – and we ran. Passed the first block post. No one said a word – even gave us a bottle of water and told which road to take to avoid trouble. Driving, rushing, flying down the highway, faster, faster… The kids are whining, the nerves are about to snap. Bought five minutes of silence by giving them some sweets.
And – fuck, guys with guns, coming at us from the bushes. Checking everything, looking everywhere. I thought they’d check between my legs for weapons, too. The kids are scared and crying, and I’m going mad with fear. I hid the gas money in the kids’ underwear. If it gets found – THIS IS IT. Then we can’t buy more gas. Then we have to walk through a forest, dragging someone else’s kids, without weapons, without food…
…I went from scared to mad when THEY took our sandwiches. Buttered bread, FOR THE KIDS! The only thing we had to feed them!
I told the men everything I thought about them, and expected to get punched in the face. They didn’t. They let us keep a pack of biscuits and a bottle of water. And then they let us go.
We drove off, slowly, we couldn’t believe we were free. At the next village, we didn’t stop – and there wasn’t anyone trying to stop us. There was a glimpse of someone at the side of the road, so we slowed down – and then we heard cracking noises and realized they were shooting. SHOOTING AT US! A car with Ukrainian plates! We’re in our f-cking land! And the kids just got to sleep! We floored the pedal and ran…
We still had cans of gasoline in the trunk. Why we didn’t catch fire, why we didn’t blow up – I’ll never know, but damn, there must be a God somewhere! Children burned in a car – we would’ve made the front pages…
We made it all the way, slowly, getting money out of the kids’ underwear to buy a little gas at a time. Only half a tank, because there was a bullet hole at the top of it. Close to Kyiv, we went into a small café and asked for some food for the tykes – something fast, to take with us. That was when I started crying. I just sat in the bushes, where no one would hear me, and howled – with pain, with fury, because FUCK! I’ve lived my whole life in this country! I speak both my native Ukrainian and Russian! My whole life, here and abroad, I’ve spoken TWO LANGUAGES! I’M UKRAINIAN! How can I live with this? Fucking hell!
The café owners (god bless them) laid a table for us, all sort of food, soup, fruit… The kids were sleepy and hungry, but more hungry than sleepy. They ate up and dozed off right at the table. We had to carry them to the car.
Guys! We made it back, we gave the kids to the people waiting for them, I had a long cry… and that was it. Something snapped. Something changed forever. IN MY SOUL.
For half my life, I’ve been training in pistol shooting, I’m a sub-master sportsman in sports shooting. I’ve always loved my weapon as a sportsman, but I never thought it would be important for me. But now, after everything I went through, after everything I saw, thought and understood… I’m ready to protect those kids, and everyone by their side and by mine.
To those of you who know me, and those who only just met me. I’m an artist. I already know what I’m going to paint. I know what kind of exhibition we’ll hold at the gallery in autumn, and what its title will be. We’ll finish our catalogue and hold the biggest exhibition yet. OPEN TO EVERYONE! WE’LL SHOW THEM ALL!
Make some pieces for it! I’ll respond to all of you!
Still madder than ever,
K-Gallery Catalogue (http://k-gallery.com.ua/)