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"When you feel that you cannot be apart, it is love. And if you can, you need to keep looking!"

- a story of Maria and Vitia from the liberated Moshchun


A new friend of mine recently said:

"We had nothing, but we really had everything."

And then I wrote down this story.


– My husband and I are together for 14 years. We used to be neighbours. As it turned out, we love each other.


– How did you realise that?


– He started courting me!

Maria is laughing. 59 years of her life were without Vitia and 14 were with him. How much in total? Yes, 73 years. At the moment of our conversation, there was a completely destroyed house, burnt trees and broken cobblestones behind Maria and Vitia. They live in the village of Moshchun located 30 kilometres from Kyiv, which was destroyed by Russians.


In the spring of 2022, the village became an outpost for the capital and helped the Ukrainian military win the battle for Kyiv.


On March 21, Moshchun was liberated. People are still recovering from the fighting, living in modular homes, sheds and outbuildings.


"People live here" – such an inscription can often be seen on the fences of residents of the Kyiv oblast. The inscriptions have remained since the time of occupation, but over time they acquire new meanings.


PEOPLE LIVE HERE

Come in :)


1

… – And how did he court you, Maria?


– Once he was coming back from work and said: "Hey neighbour, is it impossible to come in just for a visit?". And I told him: "Are you coming home from work? Do you want to eat or have some tea? Just in a neighbourly way, I treat everyone!" Then he came in once. Then again. Oh, dear, such a human feeling has never existed.


– Which one?


– Well, that we can't do without each other.


We lived for 14 years and never argued.


He courted well! He was treating my neighbour and me with some ice cream or sometimes cake.


And then an accident happened. He was hit on the head here at the bus stop and got to the hospital. I just thought: "I should come see my neighbour!" Then his son said: "Dad, look who we brought you!".


And he said: "My Maria!" How did I know that I was his Maria? We haven't lived together yet.

After the hospital, he returned to Moshchun. His daughter-in-law asked him where he wanted to go. And he told her: "If possible, let Maria take me!".


– How old were you then?


– 59. Yes, dear, 59! So I took him home.


– Did he live somewhere nearby?


– Here was his house! It was destroyed and demolished, smashed into pieces. Now there is no trace that there was a house here. What am I talking about? Ah, well, that's how I took him to my place then, because I had to take care of him, and he was so skinny.


– How did you start living together?


– He once asked: "Do you mind if we live together?". I thought of the children first, how would they react. Vitia has three sons, and I have two daughters. But the children supported us right away!


My youngest daughter said: "Mom, I saw a long time ago that you are not indifferent to Vitia. Thank God that you found yourself this way. Our father cannot be returned."


Maria's first husband died. Vitia has been divorced for many years.


Dear, I didn't have this in my youth. There is so much grace and kindness from him, so much sensitivity that I cannot convey.


– Do you not quarrel?


– God forbid! For what? No, but it happens that I will say something in a "womanly" way. And he responds with "Okay, okay, Maria! Everything is alright!".


He does everything! I can go and chitter-chatter, excuse my words, is it okay to say that? I came back, and he already made fried potatoes or something... He says: "Come eat!". A cat bit my hand here and it hurts. So he won't even let me touch cold water. This is my story.


Maria worked as a crane operator at a slag block factory for 41 years.


– Well, I not just "worked", but rather "pegged away"! I worked very hard to make money for a house.


Vitia was a builder and later founded a carpentry company.


– People were saying different things about us. But let them talk, we do not bother! I feel very good with him. Now everyone is saying that it's good that I'm not alone. And they talked about us so-o-o much that I can't convey it to you. They did it behind the back…


2

– What is love?


– It is mutual understanding and respect. It should be. And when you know, dear, that you cannot live a day without that person. Once I was operated on, I spent a week in Kyiv with my children. I rushed home terribly and cried every day. I wanted him to hug me. Just to talk! We are not at the age for something more :)

Everything is in life, dear. That night the cats kept me awake. I have two cats, who are followed by their boyfriends! Somewhere they found a hole in the place where we now live, and now it's impossible to sleep!


3

Are you happy?


Not to lie, at this moment I was expecting something like: “But what kind of happiness is there, dear? There is no house, you can see for yourself! We live in a sauna with happiness..". But…


– Yes, love. Don't look at me like that. I am happy, even now.


4

– Can you tell me how this happened?


By "this" I mean destroyed houses.


– On the third of March, we were already taken out of here.


On February 27, I went to my neighbour's store, and she was smoking outside. We heard a noise and she said: "The bullet flew by!". So we got back to the store. Already on February 24, there were fears about what was happening, but we did not leave. On February 28, THEY came here. Vitia and I said: "We will not go anywhere! Why should we go?".


We knew everything. 54 or 57 of them were coming to Hostomel. We saw their faces. We began to think about where to hide. At first, we thought that we would go into the cellar. I got in there, but I couldn't get out. My legs hurt a lot so the cellar was not suitable. They were walking around, here and there, here and there. Vitia was laying on the ground and I couldn't get up. I crawled up to him and said: "Vitia, what will happen, will happen". I sat on the couch all night. When I look outside, the house was already on fire! It was March 2. Our neighbour Taia was with us, but she didn't want to go either. Then Vitia told us: "Girls, we have to leave!"


Then we heard a car approaching. The driver told us: "Why are you here? Why don't you leave? Go away immediately! It will be crazy here! Three minutes to get ready." Vitia was dressed, and I jumped into the pants that I wear at home and took the bag with the documents. I even forgot my phone on the table.


We got into the car. The driver asks: "Timofeevich?". Vitia says: "Yes!" And we realised that it was Sasha, a friend of Vitia`s son and my grandson. Sasha drove us through the forest to the bomb shelter. When we entered, the whole Moshchun was there. And the children were looking for us! We spent the night there, but I have diabetes, I needed to drink and eat something, and I had no pills, nothing. I was hoping to faint! Then I saw Taia's son-in-law, a neighbour, standing. They quickly took us away, and we were so happy that we even left such a good flashlight there...


So we drove under shelling to Kyiv without stopping. There were planes above us, and they were shooting here and there! God! We could never have thought that this would happen!


– When did you find out that your house was no longer there?


– My girls were hiding it from me. Once I saw on the Internet that some houses were broken. And I realised it looked like my house! Something happened to me at that moment! God, and for what? For what sins? Everything burned to the ground. Absolutely everything! I was left with nothing. We lived here as in Kyiv! Everything was there! We had warm water and a toilet in the house, a washing machine and two refrigerators! Children presented a flat-screen TV for the 70's birthday. We had everything! And my granddaughter and her husband wanted to live here on the third floor. Vitia and I were waiting for them.


Vitia was the first one to go to Moshchun. He returned to Kyiv in silence. I say: "Dear, what happened?". He answered: "I'll go there, I'll put everything in order a little..." When I arrived, oooh, I grabbed my head! But he had already prepared everything before my arrival. He put the door in the barn where we live now and made the bunks we still sleep on. Terrible things were happening here!


We wanted to save this house, at least the first floor, but then we realised it was useless. We tried so much to save at least some piece, even a small part of our past life! It was very difficult for us to do all this, and how can we get it back now?


5

My Vitia tries to do everything, restore it. He cannot help but do something. Sometimes I say to him "That's all, let's rest!" and he responds with "You go take a book, read and solve crosswords, and I will chop wood!". He always finds a job to do!


6

– What is love?


From the fact that you asked me the second time, my answer would not change! :) When you feel that you cannot be apart, it is love. And if you can, you need to keep looking! :)


Now we sleep in separate beds, well, you'll see how they are, but even there we hold hands. He takes my hand with his and repeats: "You are my sunshine!". I think that's love!


I ask: "Sunny, what are we going to cook tomorrow?" He says: "Borscht or soup!". I say: "I don't want soup!", and Vitya responds "Then cook borscht!" :)


That's it, all the potatoes are peeled, we do something here and there, go around the kitchen and the dish is ready. Well, isn't it love?


He is very worried about me. I fell and broke my arm so now I can't lift it, it's hard. He does not let me carry anything.


We are like in Oleh Vynnyk's song about a couple of doves :)


"What about Vitia?", you ask. He has just entered the yard. Let's listen to him :)


1

– Do you remember when you started liking Maria?


– Oooh...! About 14 years ago. We were both married then. I helped her husband build this house. There were no thoughts about her at that time. Although I noted that she was a beautiful woman! Well, it so happened that her husband passed away, and we started talking after it.


This is how we live. The head is just now not in place, my sons are now in the army. This is what is terrifying, and the house is just a trifle.


I remember how I saw on the Internet that my house was still there, and hers was already destroyed, it was difficult to show her this. We witnessed the entire street of houses destroyed one by one. After a few days, mine was gone as well.


Have you seen the heaven we live in? Well, that's it. That's how we live.


2

– Why do you love Maria?


– If I tell you, you won't believe it! She has a warm soul :) She is beautiful! She has only one drawback: she tries to do hard work all her life. I constantly scold her for this..


3

– What is love?


– Oh-oh, love is when a person slowly grows closer to you and you feel wings appear in your soul. Or maybe one wing? And another one is hers? Because you can only fly together.


"Oh, how cold your hands are!" he said to his Maria.


"But the heart is hot!" she answered, blushing.


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