Kyiv. March 26, 2022

Cafés, bakeries, and small farmer markets are open in Kyiv. I have a list of things the territorial defense forces need, and I can easily get all of them at a supermarket. Still, we stop by every coffee booth and every street vendor. I am patient. The coffee can be suspended; sausage or sauerkraut can qualify as off-the-list treats. If we stop in good time, we’ll end up with only half a barrel of sauerkraut. And even less sausage. Slightly short of ten kilos.

But when we stop by the bakery with its aroma of fresh-baked bread and pastry, I finally lose my patience. “No!” I shout. “No pastry!”

You can’t stop the wind blowing in the right direction.

He goes out of the bakery with a crate of cinnamon buns. In pre-war life, they were called “Cinnabon.” You need special accessories to eat them in the street. Napkins or wet wipes and plates or at least a piece of paper to hold these treats in your hands. You can’t fit a cinnamon roll in your mouth with a single bite.

But when we stop by the bakery with its aroma of fresh-baked bread and pastry, I finally lose my patience. “No!” I shout. “No pastry!”

“I can’t eat as much!”

“It’s not for you! This is off the list.”

“Someone has already brought Napoleon cake off the list…”

“And what happened? Did the soldiers conquer Moscow?”

“Nope. The commander said it was not the right time for Napoleon cake or other pastry. It made people gassy. Got it?”

“Well… Let’s get them over to the military hospital then.”

I give him a hospital-food look.

“Alright. Let’s just give them away to passers-by. We’ll just stand here and treat people to cinnamon rolls. Like Father Frost.”

“Santa!” I yell. People in the street throw sympathetic glances my way. Anyone can go mad in whatever way they like. But I am not mad, no. “Santa Claus, not Father Muscovite! I wish to hell he’d die!”

The passers-by are smiling. They take my side.

“Alright, alright,” he says, frowning at his defeat. “Then let’s make dry biscuits out of them. A sack or two.”

“Why did you buy them in the first place?”

“It’s all about the economy, Lionia. Someone has to keep it going. And I will be this ‘someone’ as long as I have money in my pocket.”

“Okay, let it be biscuits.”

Today it was sunny, windy, rainy, and cold. It’s February all over. The same February as thirty-two days ago.

Author — Olena Stiazhkina, historian, writer

Translator — Hanna Leliv

Illustrator — Victoria Boyko

Editor — Maryna Korchaka

Program Directors — Julia Ovcharenko, Demyan Om

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