Olga V : February 24, 2022. Tell me about that day. How the war started for you?
Olga B: Everything happened quite unexpectedly. It was night. I woke up with a sound of a distant explosion. I didn’t realize what it was and tried to sleep further, but then the second explosion thundered and then we all woke up. Messages from my husband, friends and relatives began to pour on my phone. Within an hour I already understood that the war had begun, although it was very hard to believe.
Olga V : What were your feelings at that moment?
Olga B: You know, that paralyzing fear like I felt that day, I had never experienced before. I am a pragmatic person who takes everything in life with a cold mind, but suddenly I felt totally confused and very vulnerable. I was not ready for war. Nobody was. It was very scary. The first night we spent in the hallway at our home.
Olga V : Why in the hallway?
Olga B: It was the safest place in the apartment to hide from explosions. There must be at least two walls between the person and the street to increase the chances of survival. The first wall takes on the force of the explosion, while the second wall takes on the bomb fragments and debris. Now every Ukrainian knows about it.
The first night we slept in the hallway because the basement in our house was flooded. Then my friend and I went to a shelter in the gym that belonged to our friend. The gym was in the basement of a building. We spent there one night, but it was very uncomfortable and decided to go back home.
Olga V I can imagine. It was winter, February. I guess it was very cold there?
Olga B: Not only cold. It was damp. The room was poorly ventilated and there were too many people. It's ok to spend an hour when you go for a workout but living there with a child was unbearable. We returned home and had lived in Odessa until March 3.
Olga V: Tell me about that week.
Olga B: Usually, music plays in my house all day long from morning to evening. That week my son and I lived in silence. We turned off everything, because we were very afraid not to hear the air raid sirens. At that time, there were no special apps available that would have warned about air raids and missile strikes. We hardly slept. It was scary to leave my child at home when I had to go out to get some food.
We had to leave.
I was alone. My husband was on a sail at that moment. He is a sailor. I was overwhelmed and could not make a decision for a while.
But on March 3, I packed what I could in the car and we left. So here I am in Bulgaria.
Olga V : Tell me about your life before the war
Olga B: I love to have everything under control. I don't like spontaneity and surprises. I like when everything is clear and planned. And I had big plans. I have my own pretty successful beauty business. Although perhaps now we can say it in the past tense ... I had a business ... There were ambitions ...
I planned development and growth. We lived in abundance, we went on vacations and traveled a lot. My husband and me earned enough to afford the comfortable and stable life.
Olga V : I see. It’s a horrible situation when you work very hard towards uour goal for a long time, and then in one day you just lose everything: property, business, and most importantly the usual way of life that has been built up over the years.
Olga B: Yes, I was not a bum who was wasting the time by watching TV and did nothing. I worked hard to earn my comfort living. I love nice clothes, I like to drive a good car, go to restaurants, movies, travel, etc...
Olga V : I saw your car, it's loaded with your belongings. You still haven't unpacked all your stuff. Do you hope that the war will end up soon and you will return home?
Olga B: I really want to go home. I am not ready to accept the fact that I will live in another country as a fugitive. I can't make this kind of decision because I don't want to.
I want to live at home and travel to other countries on vacations. The world is big, I want to see everything, but I want to live at home.
Olga V : Yes, I have heard many similar stories and seen many unpacked suitcases. When talking with Ukrainian women, I very often hear from them that even if they had thought about relocation before, and many imagined that they could live in another country, but now they just want to go home. Same as you.
Olga B: Do you know why? When you want to go somewhere by your will, you can do it and nothing will stop you from going there. You can go to Thailand, Bulgaria, or any other European country. You can just visit or you can stay longer and live there. It doesn’t matter. You want it, you can do it, you eventually do it.
It’s totally different story when you were forced to move. It was not your decision. You weren't given a choice. You cannot settle properly in a new place. You cannot accept this decision in your head. Because the decision was made for you. Nobody asked me, or millions of other Ukrainians if we want to move. Therefore, everything inside resists and therefore it is difficult to accept it.
Olga V : I see. Tell me how your child handles all this.
Olga B: For the first month and a half, my son was like in a shell. He didn't talk to anyone at all. When we arrived in Bansko, Bulgaria, he met some children, made friends and felt better. A boy at the age of 12 should be active, open to the world, play and not think about adult problems. He should be a kid, and he was deprived of that. Deprived of the usual life, his home, friends, school, entertainment, comfort and safety. This is scary.
Olga V Do you want to say anything else at the end?
Olga B: We need the common sense to win. Unfortunately, the majority of the of the people in Russia are completely lack it because they are brainwashed by the propaganda. They are sheeple in a herd. They believe what they are told from the strictly censored TV.
Russia started the war claiming “demilitarization and denazification” of The Ukraine. They say there are Nazis in our country. They say they came to free us from the Nazis who infringe on Russian speakers. Such a nonsense and terrible lie!
I was born in Russia. My dad is Russian. My mother is Ukrainian. I have lived in Ukraine for 25 years and I am a Ukrainian citizen. I am a Ukrainian who speaks and thinks in Russian. I've never had any problems with this. My child studied in Odessa at a Russian school. And there are several such schools in our city. No one has ever infringed upon the Russian speakers. We are coming to western Ukraine and I speak Russian and never had a problem with it. I am Ukrainian with Russian roots and I want peace in my county.