«I live with the hope that the native boys will come to liberate us»: what is life like in occupied Melitopol?
A resident of Melitopol in May wrote a text about life under the occupation. Hromadske Radio are publishing it with her permission. Currently, there is no connection in the city.
What is it like to live under occupation? During the first month of the war, when everything flew around and exploded and when the invaders’ artillery pounded the city, I felt an animal-like fear and despair. I never prayed so much in my life. I never had so much hate and I never feared so much for my relatives, friends, and acquaintances.
When communication and light disappeared, Melitopol plunged into darkness. In those days, for the first time in my life, I realized that it is possible to go insane in absolute silence. Even the birds seemed to have been silenced. I will never forget my first visit to the city after the occupation. Rain, grayness, frightened people, queues everywhere. That day, I saw the “orcs” (Russian soldiers) for the first time, and I cried. It seemed like a dream. A terrible dream that will not end.
A month passed. The city is silent, no bombs and shells fly over us. We still hear fighting outside the city, but it’s somewhere far away. I hear the orcs’ planes take off, the ones that they have placed in our city. In those moments, you realize that they are flying to bomb Ukraine. Hatred. I always mentally wish for them to be shot down.
“Living under occupation – it’s not living your life”
Every day you minimize the time spent outside. You go out quickly to buy the necessities and then you return home immediately.
When the orcs’ vehicles and fascists with weapons pass you by a new feeling arises within you. This is not fear. There is no more fear. It feels like you’re among the dead. You know, these orcs walk around you and drive vehicles, but they’re like the dead among the living.
“I live with the hope that they will come to free Melitopol”
They are scared. We can really feel their fear and hatred towards us. You must be very scared to always cover your face with a balaclava and hold onto your weapon so tightly when entering a regular market. Terrible weaponry will not save you from this fear. They always drive around the city at high speeds, signaling for everyone to give them the right of way. No traffic lights, no traffic rules. No rules. Why?
My city is deserted. My beautiful and picturesque Melitopol. Green, blooming, covered with red flags on all columns, Colorado colors on banners with photos of supposed veterans. The city has held its breath. The shops are closed, and the windows are boarded up.
Yes, there are still people in the city. They are all in line. Queues, queues, queues everywhere. Inflated prices everywhere. Buckwheat – UAH 160, sugar -UAH 120, salt – UAH 40. Now in the third month of the occupation, the prices are gradually declining. However, we the people, who are forced to stay, do not have enough money for this. There has been no work for three months.
The war is like a surgeon’s knife that revealed the worst in people, who after everything, still look to make money. There are sellers who have raised their prices several times. They know that they will sell anyway because there are no alternatives. However, there are still those who trade at costs.
I have heard the Ukrainian language several times from those such saleswomen. In these instances, a woman will hand you the goods and quietly say: “Please. Good day” and you answer: “Thank You, You as well” in Ukrainian. You both swallow tears.
Sadness and disgust, when you learn that acquaintances or some (now former) colleagues are happy because of the occupation. Rejoice as in the script of Orwell’s book “Animal Farm”, in which we have found ourselves. In these instances, you understand that these people are of a different kind.
This is an animal species, a species that is about to disappear in the process of evolution, just like the “rusnya” (Russian people). No, our collaborators don’t need to be re-educated. After the war, they need to be given a one-way ticket to their land of dreams, Russia.
Despite such a bright and flowering month of May, darkness looms over the city. Every morning we start with the news: what’s happening on the front? (When the city still had access to the internet-ed.) There are no more tears. Everything is petrified. Mariupol, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv.
My windows are open day and night so as not to miss the artillery shells. I live with the hope that today our dear boys will come to free us. I pray for them, for our dear soldiers.
Relatives and friends often ask: “How are you over there?”. I say: “They are not firing upon us.” I don’t know how to explain, that it is not possible to breathe in the city, that the city has turned into a prison, of which you can’t escape from. It’s hard. Its very hard.
Everyday I thank God for my love, who is beside me. I thank God for my loved ones, who are far away from me, but are always praying for us. I feel the protection of their prayers in every cell of my body.