How does it feel to be bombed out of your home town? The author of Bad Roads writes about her desperate departure from Kyiv after Russia’s invasion
What should I have taken but didn’t? I took money and ID. I grabbed two rings (people in books always take jewellery). But I left the cross on the wall, a family heirloom, and the painting of a guelder rose. I chose to leave all the icons behind to guard my home and my city, Kyiv. I didn’t take any of my photos, or the portraits of two Ukrainian writers, Shevchenko and Gogol. I watered all my plants, but how long will they last if I never return? Who will defrost my freezer? I left behind my heart. Grandmother’s photograph, still on the shelf. A moisturiser, a new one, I left in the bathroom. I’ve never even used it. Stop thinking about the moisturiser, you stupid woman, and watch the road.
I focus on the road. What else did I leave behind? I left everything behind. I took only the important stuff: my mother, my daughter and Dyusha, our pedigree cat, who squealed and stank out the car all the way. It’ll be 30 hours at the wheel soon. I’m fleeing from Kyiv because it’s being bombed by Russians. I desperately want to sleep but the cat just shat in the car and the stench keeps me awake. What did I hope to take but wasn’t able to? My husband and the father of my daughter (two different men). My daughter’s father is a writer – seeing him holding a gun was just weird. I left my friends, our half-made film, the streets of my town. The chestnuts will soon be in bloom without me there to see them.