'In this city everyone is waiting for death'

At 5.00 this morning Russia's ultimatum for the surrender of Mariupol passed but the heavily devastated harbour town refused and this was backed by Kyiv. A disaster looms. Nadia Sukhorukova managed to leave Mariupol on March 20. These were her last Facebook posts from Mariupol. 

mariupol nadia sukhorukovaNadia Sukhorukova (Facebook)

by Nadia Sukhorukova

March 19

'I go outside in between the bombings. I need to walk the dog. She's whining, shivering, and hiding behind my legs. I want to sleep all the time. My yard, surrounded by high-rise buildings, is silent and dead.

'I'm not afraid to look around anymore. In front of me, the entrance to building 105 is burning down. The flames already devoured five floors and are slowly chewing the sixth. The fire in the room burns as delicately as in a fireplace. 

Black charred windows are windowless. Curtains torn by the fire fall out of them like tongues. Calm and doomed I look at it. I am sure I will die soon. It is a matter of a few days. In this city, everyone is constantly waiting for death. I just want it not to be too scary. 

'Three days ago, a friend of my older nephew came to us and told us that there was a direct hit in the fire department. Rescuers died. One woman got her arm, leg, and head torn off. I dream that my body parts will remain in place, even after the aerial bomb explosion. 

'I don't know why, but I think it's important. Although, they won't bury during hostilities. That's what the police told us when we asked what to do with our friend's dead grandmother. They advised to put her on the balcony. I wonder how many balconies have dead bodies on them?

'Our home on the Avenue of Peace is the only one without direct hits. It was hit twice by a shell, in some apartments windows were blown out, but it did not suffer much compared to other homes. The whole yard is covered with layers of ash, glass, plastic, and metal fragments. 

'I try not to look at the iron thing that flew into the playground. I think it's a rocket, or maybe a land mine. I don't care, it's just unpleasant. I see someone's face in the third-floor window, and I shudder. It turns out that I am afraid of living people. 

'My dog starts howling, and I realize that they're going to shoot again. I am standing outside in the daytime and a cemetery silence all around me. There are no cars, no voices, no children, no grandmothers on the benches. Even the wind is dead. 

'A few people are here, though. They lie on the side of the house and in the parking lot, covered with their outer clothing. I don't want to look at them. I'm afraid I'll see someone I know. 

'All life in my town is smoldering in basements right now. It's like a candle in our shelter. Putting it out is so easy. Any vibration or breeze and the darkness will fall. I try to cry, but I can not. I feel sorry for myself, my family, my husband, my neighbors, my friends. 

'I go back to the basement and listen to the ugly scraping of iron. It's been two weeks, and I don't believe that there was ever another life. 

'There are still people in the basement in Mariupol. It's getting harder for them to survive by the day. No water, no food, no light, they can't go outside. The people of Mariupol must live. Help them. Spread the word. Let everyone know that civilians continue to be killed.'

March 20

'Do you know how scary it is to part even for a couple of minutes? I keep repeating to myself, that I am not in hell, but keep hearing the drum of airplanes, shiver of every loud noise and tuck my head in between my shoulders. I am scared when somebody is leaving. From there, from hell, not all that leave return. While they hadn't bombed ou the house of our acquaintances, lots of people assembled there. Many people rushed in in between shelling en told each other what they had witnessed in other streets.

'Fragile Anya from a 15-store highrise came every day. Her parents lived next to the school at Kirov street and she was very worried about them. She couldn't take them in. The distance of two bus stops was too much for them. Her appartment was right under the roof. It was as if the planes, that bombed the town, flew right above her attic.

'Every day during the shellings Anya went to see her parents. Mines hissed and hit around her from all sides. She dropped to the ground and covered her head with her hands. She was terrified. In peace time it was a very small distance, but under the bombardments it was practically insurmountable. Anna went twice and saw how everything changed. Houses that were still intact yesterday, turned into ruins overnight. They were penetrated and stood out with their black holes of burned-out windows.

'I thought she was a hero. She visited her parents and came to the house at Osipenko to get a rest, before she returned to her flat. She drank water, stood in the door opening and didn't speak. Sometimes she brought precious pampers or crème for Nikita who was born a week earlier. Since his birth the baby lived in the basement of the house. He looked like a little yellow chicken. He didn't get any sunshine.

'Every day Anya changed, just like the city. She became more and more transparant and the black wholes around her eyes became darker and darker. Anya didnot eat. She said: 'I cannot stuff anything in my mouth, I cannot swallow.' She didnt speak about what she saw on the road. There were many kids present and she didnot want to scare them.

'' When they started to shell our neighbourhood uninterruptedly, she visited her parents every other couple of days. I thought she became so emaciated and transparant, that the shell fragments just couldn't hit her. When a shell hit the house of our friends and we went to another basement, we didn't see her again. She must be in Mariupol now. She doesn't have a car, her parents are old and she has a couple of cats. 

'On March 11 the husband of my friend perished. A day before they visited us and we dreamed how we would see each other again after the war. Vitya, my friends husband, was a filmer and a quiet person. But he promised for sure that we would meet after the war. He didn't keep his word.

'A day later, when everything drummed and whistled, as if they cut a giant glass window with an iron saw, nearby a plane was drumming. The kids were in the basement and the grown-ups cuddled up on the couch and covered their heads with pillows. I closed my eyes shut, I don't know why. I hoped the pillow would save me from the bombs.

'At that moment 13 years old Sasha rushed into the house. He screamed: I am Sasha! Something just burst into our house! F.ck!' We asked: How is your mother? Is everybody alive? He answered, that only his father was under the rubble, and his mother now is excavating him.

'In the end it appeared that his father went under forever. An excellent film operator, a beautiful man, a loving father and husband, quiet and goodhearted, was lying with a shattered head and an unnatural twisted leg in his own appartment on the 9th floor. We couldn't bury him. We couldn't get him out. A couple of days later the whole building together with Vitya burned down. A new hit destroyed the house.

'In Mariupol a lot became unimportant. We ate from one plate, not to use water for washing dishes, we slept all together on matrasses, because it was warmer, we wore each others caps and stormed every passer-by to ask about news from the next yard. We forgot about shops, we forgot that you can switch on television, chat on social media, take a shower or sleep in a real bed.

'Today we know that during the blockade less then 40.000 people left the city. Hundreds of thousands are still in hell. Day by day it becomes more difficult for them to survive. Please, help them! Tell the truth about my town!'

Original text on Facebook.

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