Stories from Ukraine: Yellow, Car, House, Sky
501 Collective in Ukraine & Romania
Petrisor picked me up from the house I was staying at. There were two ladies in the van. One I had seen volunteering (Irina) and the other I hadn’t met yet.
Irina sat in the front seat and we started chatting. We were catching up on the week and where we were from and why we were there. The other lady was quiet, solemn, and seemingly could not understand the language.
We stopped for coffees; we always stop for coffees. We each ordered a latté.
I asked how long Irina was staying… she was leaving in an hour.
She said to me, “Natalia just arrived from Ukraine, she plans on moving to Ireland. Can you teach her some English?”
“Sure, I’d love to.”
I sat down with Natalia later that evening. A mother who had found refuge in Romania on her way with her daughter to Ireland.
We used Google translate to share messages back and forth. And spoke some basic English. Then she sent me a Google translate message, “I’d like some fresh air, would you like to take a walk?”
Me, her, and her daughter stepped into the cool, brisk Romanian air and walked around the building the refugees were in. We pointed at things, “sky,” “yellow,” “house,” “car.” And sometimes it was just silent, walking.
It was the fullest silence I’d ever had.
I could have cried a million times over.
This woman, along with her daughter had just fled a war. She was staying at a refugee center before heading further into Europe, simply wanting to leave one life behind and start another. And here we were, walking, pointing out colors and houses and cars. I don’t know if pointing those things out made a difference but crossing into another country where you know no one and simply being able to take a walk with someone, I think that does mean something.
Even in a situation like this, one can get caught up in the doing. But there’s something about a walk that is about presence. We’re in this together. We’re moving forward. We are for each other.
I don’t know if she’ll remember that walk around the building. But if she does, I hope she remembers that someone is rooting for her. Someone loves her.Someone is present with her. I know the memory won’t be lost on me.
Author - John Ross