In Israel, my mother spent three weeks in Ichilov and then in a senior’s center, and then she passed away. At least I was able to give her a proper burial, not in a makeshift grave in the yard. My poor mama, she survived WWII, the Holocaust, and now…
How are we doing? We rented an apartment in Haifa; sometimes, it’s hard: a different mentality, bureaucracy, we don’t know the language and we do miss our home. In previous life we didn’t lift anything heavier than a pen, and now we have to work nightshifts, counting items in a warehouse. It’s not the hardest work, but there is some spiritual discomfort, not going to lie.
When a balloon burst, my daughter fell to the floor
Sometimes I talk to my cousin who lives in Saint-Petersburg. On the one hand, he is not a fan of the government; on the other hand, he thinks I should go back to Mariupol and take compensation for our apartment from that same government. I rarely use obscene language, but when he told me this, all of Haifa heard me scream obscenities at him. I just couldn’t handle this unhinged proposal. And his own father-in-law and mother-in-law live in Mariupol, so he has to know better.
I don’t want anything from them. If at some point we are awarded official compensation, for example, from the frozen accounts of Russian oligarchs, I will gladly take it.
I know some people who moved here from Russia. Mostly, they left because they hate the regime. But sometimes it’s different. The day before yesterday these two older women started nattering at us at a bus stop.
“You are from Ukraine?”
“And where exactly?”
And that’s when they started: ”Don’t you feel sorry for the soldiers?”
“They came to our land, why should I feel sorry for them?”
And my husband says: “Do you feel sorry for my mom and brother who died for nothing? That’s how they fight against fascism… on our land!”
But these are rare specimens. Usually when people found out where we are from they brought us all they could: even beds, clothes, and dishes.
Anya started school here, and one boy brought a balloon to class. He wanted to pop it over a friend’s ear. She heard the pop and screamed, and another boy from Mariupol (they go to Hebrew classes in ulpan together) did not scream, but they both fell to the floor. The mischief-maker apologized for a long time afterwards; he hadn’t noticed them…
My daughter still remembers the face of Tyoma. I had known his mother from childhood; we lived close by. She was almost the same age as my son and she died in the hospital. Tyoma’s arm was torn off by the explosion, but it was the blast wave that killed him. It lifted him off his feet and he hit his head on the ground. And his mother had head trauma in addition to the shrapnel wounds. They couldn’t move her: their car was damaged. And another little girl died with her mom: they all played there together. So Anya remembers all these people….
I am now also afraid of doors slamming, of loud screams. When someone starts talking loudly on the bus, I shrink away. It is what it is.