Dagbladet several times tried to have a telephone conversation with the son of the elderly couple in Kharkiv, Andrei Krasnastzhik (52). But increased Russian air strikes, followed by intermittent blackouts, made it difficult.
Every percentage of the battery in a Krasnjastsjykh phone must be used carefully. He never knows when the power will return, if it vanishes first.
So, several days ago he reported to Dagbladet on WhatsApp when he had a battery.
The 52-year-old is usually a writer and associate professor at Kharkiv National University, and lives with his wife Elena and ten-year-old daughter Nadega.
Now the small family is divided into different parts of the city.
While the wife and daughter took refuge in the grandmother’s basement, Krasnastjekh had to move to the parents on the seventh floor.
They are too weak to reach safety in the basement when criticized. The son says that going on a trip is unthinkable.
81-year-old Grigoryevich survived World War II as a young boy. Now Krasnjastsjykh worries about whether his heart can withstand another war.
– My father is a heart patient with a pacemaker, says Krasnjastsjykh.
Due to constant air attacks, elevators were closed in most buildings in the city.
The constant bombardment makes it very difficult to evacuate people.
The leader of the Age Concern Ukraine Foundation, Galina Polyakova, has stated that she is particularly concerned about the elderly who remain in the cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol, where heavy fighting is taking place.
Older people are tied to their homes. Many women and children have left the country, while the elderly stay home isolated and hungry. We don’t know who’s alone and needs our help, she says.
From time to time, sometimes for several days in a row, there is no electricity and no heating in the buildings.
Extreme cold was reported this weekend, minus 24 degrees Celsius.
Inside, we attached all the window panes crosswise, so that the pieces of glass would be held together by tape, in case the windows shattered.
Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine and among those hard hit by Russian air strikes.
Every time Krasnjastsjykh hears fighter jets, they rush into the lobby where there are no windows.
– Just look at the pictures of monuments in Kharkiv after World War II and today. The 52-year-old says they look exactly the same.
While caring for his parents, he constantly communicates with his wife and daughter via the Viber chat service.
Just a week before the outbreak of the war, the daughter turned ten years old. Then she celebrates her birthday with her classmates, unaware that life will soon be turned upside down.
Now it’s her little gray cat who keeps their company.
– In the early days of the war the cat hid under a closet and refused to eat. But now she says she has adapted to the new daily life, says Krasngastgekh.
He sends two drawings drawn by the ten-year-old daughter to the family hiding in the basement.
She called one of them “We’re in the basement 2022.”
The other drawing is of angry snowmen, destroyed cubes, missiles and fighter planes. And with it a clear message to the outside world.
– I’m worried about how this will affect her in the future. Is she able to return to a safe and normal life?
During the early days of the war, no one in the family managed to do much but read the news.
But they were soon exhausted from staying on constant alert. In the end, they had to try to devise simple daily routines. In the parents’ apartment, the 52-year-old started the household chores.
A good way to de-stress after an air attack is to wash the chandelier with Anti-Raid detergent. I think that many houses in Kharkiv have shiny clean chandeliers every day, says the author and sends a photo of the bottle with the cleaner.
– Of course, this only applies to homes that have not been bombed to pieces, he adds.
The 52-year-old and his family are looking every day for good news. Krasnjastsjykh says they live in the hope that the war will end and life will return to normal again.
– We try to interpret the news in its best sense and banish dark thoughts. Looking forward to all the victories of the Ukrainian army.
He himself speaks fluent Russian. He does not hide what he thinks of the neighboring country, calling Putin a “rabid predator of unbridled aggression.”
He has no belief that there will be a Russian-Ukrainian relationship after the war.
– He burned to ashes from the same fire that brought Ukraine. Krasnjastsjykh says and continues:
After the war, the Russians will have to realize what Russia has done to Ukraine, while supporting Putin or giving him his silent approval.
It is difficult for Krasnjastsjykh to answer his vision of the future. He remembers the days when they were still clearing the ruins of World War II in his hometown.
Our future is now enough to clean up the rubble after this war.
Then he talks about the meaning of his daughter’s name Nadegia. Nadeja means hope.
When they watch movies, and they hear the word hope, she raises her hand, says her father.
If you look at the world with hope, it gives you strength. All Ukrainians are convinced that we will win in the end.
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