My people are about freedom

My people are about freedom

Morning November 22, they wake me up with the words: “Wake up, the revolution has begun.” I feel neither surprise nor fear.

I perceive it as an event that should have happened a long time ago, just for some reason it was postponed for a long time.

Well, finally, finally we started to wake up.

The first week time slows down, it feels like it lasts a good month. A carefree, young protest, with songs, good jokes on posters, guitars near barrels with a fire, caring for each other, tea and sandwiches. Lots of hugs, naive faith and happiness to see each other. To see one’s Ukrainian family, to feel togetherness in these sips of freedom.

The point of departure for harsh reality was the beating of students on the night from autumn to winter.

That night in winter became a portal, a transition to all those endlessly fierce, full of flying lead, filled with frozen blood war winters.

The morning of December 1, the center of Kyiv was flooded with young blood, still very children, whose bright heads were smashed at dawn for their boundless, even somewhat naive faith in freedom.

I wake up and wait to see how my people will behave. I swear to myself that if my tribe meekly remains silent in response to the humiliation of their children, I will leave my country. My career, my family, my opportunities will never again be dedicated to my people.

But the sun rises under the fact that my people straighten their shoulders. Instead of thousands – hundreds of thousands, millions flood every square, people spill over hundreds of streets, filling our common home with cheerful anger.

And I finally understand that I am a part of my people, this is my tribe. My people will not tolerate humiliation, you will not bind my people with fear. My people fight and laugh, you cannot keep my people in slave paralysis.

My people are about freedom.

And so I will be with mine, until the end. It’s scary, painful, doomed. Because one day I too will lay down in our land for freedom for my people.

But my people have also kept this freedom, this is heaven for me, for 10 years. Otherwise, what is all this for?

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s neighbors.” And for their freedom to be human, I thought that first winter morning.

What happened next?

A lot of initial pain, we carried bodies under fire. We did not understand how they could kill us just like that in the center of our cities, just for standing up for our freedom, warming our hands with tea and singing our good songs.

A lot of warm care, when you put socks knitted by Carpathian grandmothers on the frozen feet of beaten friends, bent at the knees. A lot of struggle with yourself. Because courage is not when it is not scary. It’s when it’s scary to the point of stupor, but you force yourself to go forward. Because there someone from your tribe is bleeding every second.

I remember how, on the night of December 9-10, I saw how the assault on the Maidan was being prepared, hundreds of “Berkut” helmets on Instytutskaya lined up to beat us down to the square, as an allusion to Tolkien’s books about the assault of hobbits by orcs. I ran to the stage in time to warn – it had started.

A wobbly sag between New Year’s holidays and January 19. A sharp escalation on the night of the 20th. We learn to make incendiary cocktails, the first wounds, poisonous black gas in the lungs.

The dawn of the 20th was greeted by literally several dozen people on Hrushevsky. I will never forget that dawn. A broken square, strewn with glass and cobblestones, burned buses, the remains of barricades, a lull between battles.

It is frosty, the sun is rising, in the middle of the square, sitting on some office chair, I meet the sun. Sipping tea with frozen lips, I think only one thought: “From now on it will never be the same as before. Never. The country has changed forever.”

There will be a lot more to come, the shock of the death of the first of us: “So we will be shot, just like that, in the middle of the city?”.

Will be

And the sooner we get rid of the remnants of illusions, the better for us.

On the last shooting day, February 20, I crossed the almost empty Maidan, up to the Ukraina Hotel. I forced myself to come home from the hospital, even though it was terribly scary that day.

Every step forward was given with a fight, instinct drove me back, sliding my gaze over every roof, I pushed myself forward. Maybe that’s where my sniper death is sitting right now and is already aiming at me. In the middle of an empty square, with the feeling of a target, you fight with yourself, with every step, with your own instinct. Then I forced myself to pass.

After all, revolution and war are the best time to learn not to be afraid.

Then I poured buckets of blood of our best people into the sewer for a long time. They, already dead, were lying on the white floor of the lobby of the “Ukraine” hotel. Everything was covered in blood. And someone needed to wash off that blood.

And amid the cries of mothers over their sons, I went again and again to pour their blood down the pipes into the Dnipro. At such moments, the main thing is to do something, otherwise you can quietly go crazy from the awareness of the scale of our grief and our helplessness.

Washing the floor of blood, I melted my despair, all the pain for my own into a cold-blooded, patient rage against our killers.

It is necessary to take revenge – for each of our people. Quiet, measured, ruthless and systematic.

10 years ago, the revolution led me to desire a fair, severe punishment. With many of those who were on the other side of the barricades, we fought against the Russians already within a year.

10 years later, the war led to a desire to learn to forgive mercifully. To forgive their own, because sometimes, like all of us, they do not know what they are doing. To forgive, even when you only want to take merciless revenge.

Accept and do not divide, remember that we have a common enemy for generations to come – the Russian occupiers. And so it was and always will be.

Within a day, the square was filled with people. Everyone came out to celebrate the victory. Those who were in the last shooting days could be seen in their eyes. We didn’t celebrate anything. We saw each other in the crowd instantly. We silently approached each other, silently smoked together and just as silently left.

We didn’t know how to live after everything that happened. Grief ripped through us with an explosion, the awareness of the scale of the tragedy could not be silenced by anything. We learned to live anew. And the war helped many of us in this. The war took away time for reflection and any time in general.

There are no days off in war. And all the more time to cry. All the crying is for later. First you need to survive and help others survive.

Thus began a completely different story. A story that spans 10 years and may continue for decades to come.

But all this, in the end, is part of the same story – about our life, about our humanity, about our unbearable pain of losing and the boundless, crazy happiness of being among our own people, among Ukrainians, among our native tribe.

About our unconditional heroism, fighting and not giving up. Defend and win. For their freedom and for their people.


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