The New Black in Ukraine

The first news about the potential blackout in the capital of Ukraine shocked everyone. Finally, when all the worst news over the nine months of the great war seem to already have been voiced, every time there comes a higher level of how a citizen in our territory should be ready for the reality of war reality.

“Are you getting ready?”, I ask my friends.

They were getting ready.

Candles, cans, technical water, drinking water, burner, gas balloons, warm winter clothing, power banks, charged telephones, lanterns. Life in Ukraine is like a trip to the mountains. One should have all the necessary things for all possible situations, otherwise you may fail to survive.

That Wednesday there came a long air alarm, and four explosions heard over it obviously signaled that this could be the beginning of a new trial.

“It has started!”, that is what we told each other on that day. The same as we said on February 24, the same as on October 10.

Now an important adaptation characteristic of every Ukrainian is the ability to very quickly adjust to reality.

Quickly get some water into storage facilities.

Quickly make tea if there still is some hot water in the kettle.

Quickly give calls to everyone while the phone is still functioning.

Quickly leave the streets if there comes an air alarm signal.


Centre of Kyiv.

You can see only the lights of the cars that are queuing to the car fuelling station. The queue is so long that you cannot even understand where it ends. One has to stay there for about an hour. The car fuelling station operator is skillfully doing his job. He looks more like a traffic regulator on the road.

His voice can be heard outdoors. He welcomes everyone. Clarifies what petrol we want to buy.

“Let the good come!”, he suddenly says goodbye to the driver standing at the neighboring fuel column.

War. Night. With cold beds, apartments with no water, time with no telephone connection ahead.

“That’s awful”, responds that other driver from the dark. “But that will be gone.”

His voice is mature, confident.

30 hours without light.

In Lviv nine transplantations from posthumous donors were made within those 30 hours. The Ministry of Health told this on November 25.

Within a bit more than 24 hours transplant surgeons transplanted two hearts, a liver and six kidneys. Teams consisting of almost a hundred specialists were working to make this happen.

Friends are writing: “45 hours without light”, “The third day and night with no light”… We can now compete who has been staying without any communications for a longer period and how (s)he has survived in this test (I feel it) blackout.

I am looking at the candle on the table that is almost burnt. I am putting together both lanterns that already do not have any charge in them and thinking about technical water of which we have too little to survive in such conditions over a long period of time.

Life seems to be more complicated in the dark, but not so desperate not to overcome all this. Absence of electricity in Ukraine opens a very important piece of knowledge to all of us: now there are even more light people here when there is no light.

Author: Svitlana Stretovych, Ukrainian essayist, program director of Litosvita

Translator: Halyna Pekhnyk

Illustrator: Victoria Boyko

Content Editor: Maryna Korchaka

Program Directors: Julia Ovcharenko and Demyan Om Dyakiv Slavitski