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Tribute to My Home

by Katya H.


I was not born in Kyiv but consider it my hometown. I spent my school and student years there. I fell in love there for the first time. This means there are streets that for some people are just streets with the usual names, for example, Chekhov Lane or Hrigorii Skovoroda Street. But for me, the streets talk, because when you’re told important things when you’re sixteen or twenty-five years old you remember them for the rest of your life and never again will there be the same talking street, because you will never be this age again.

My son was born in Kyiv. On the day he announced he was going to be born, there was a lot of snow. We were afraid to wait for an ambulance and called a taxi. The taxi driver gave me advice on motherhood on the journey and said that I would not give birth quickly, because he was the father of three children, and the first one took a very long time. The taxi driver joked there was a green light everywhere, told me how he worked in a bank, ran several businesses at the same time, and was even a trainer in the zoo! I was in pain, but I laughed, and time flew by. This taxi driver says so much about Kyiv.

With my son in Kyiv, I experienced another childhood, our common one. We went everywhere - abandoned construction sites, parks under giant oaks, flea markets, inside a plastic slide near McDonald’s, where I would not advise any of the parents to climb! We drove, rolled down the mountainside, and played ball. Together with Dima’s friends, whom I miss no less than my own ones, we made and sold lemonade, played football, watched football at the Dynamo stadium, went to the river, argued, made peace. We didn’t feel the time passing.

Tired, we went to Dima’s great-grandmother in Podil, an old district of Kyiv with paving stones, churches, trams, and low buildings. Although we warned her about our last-minute arrival, Great-grandmother always had delicious soup and a pie with tea. She was always waiting for us. My son spent his holidays in Irpin, with my parents and brother, in the house where I grew up. Irpin has changed a lot, becoming a developed and stylish city, with many beautiful parks and squares. And if earlier it was popular to move to the capital, now building a house here and raising children has become the dream of many families from Kyiv.

Sometimes I imagine showing peaceful Kyiv and Irpin to my new friends from Ireland. Immediately, from the airport in Boryspil, we will drop in on my relatives who live in a village nearby. Real Ukrainian borscht should be tasted there, and we will cook and eat it together. I want Uncle Lenya to show you his garden, cut a tomato, hearty like a steak, pick the sweetest peach from a tree, or gather raspberries from a bush into a glass.

Ukraine is so far away from Ireland, but we share a common love for the land and its gifts. I’m sure you will feel the same. You’ll probably be tired from the journey, so we’ll postpone the Kyiv tour until the next day. We’ll cross the bridge over the Dnipro River, go through to Peremohy Avenue, through the forest along the new highway, and then drive to Irpin. We’ll pass the bridge under which Marina and I ran in childhood, holding hands. The bridge that was blown up and rebuilt during the 2022 war. I want to be a guide, but I don’t know how Irpin has changed in those places where the battles took place.

Then we’ll drive into our yard, I’ll open the door and switch on the light in the house. Switching on the light doesn’t only mean reviving everything, filling it with music, energy, joy, and the smell of delicious food, but it’s also about bringing clarity to many things. In this case, I’d start in our attic. In order not to puzzle you with this, I’ll give you a bucket of delicious cherries and seat you on the roof near the garage, which offers a beautiful view of the forest and the city. Feel free to spit the bones right down over the fence, because this is how most of the trees grew in our garden. Perhaps if it’s the Irish who plant new trees here, they will not be afraid of frost.

With faith in Ukraine and sincere gratitude to the Irish people, Katya.


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