Lviv: A Canary’s Diary

February 20, Sunday Yesterday, at home in Kyiv, we listened to Boris Johnson’s speech and immediately bought tickets to Lviv. My husband Roman suggested a week ago that S, our three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and I stay with my parents in Lviv, but I refused, despite the American and British embassies having already relocated there (and my mother begging us to come). A few days ago, the older daughter of my husband, a first-year student, left to join her mother who lives abroad. Now it’s time for us. As I’m packing, S is running around, exclaiming “Let’s go to Lviv, to Lviv!” An unusual enthusiasm, which I wouldn’t notice if she didn’t also say: “I don’t want him to kill us all!” “Who?” I ask. “Who’s gonna kill us?” She doesn’t answer, just keeps selecting which things I should pack. I’m astonished: she couldn’t have heard anything like that from me or Roman, as we didn’t discuss the situation in such a dramatic manner. Her kindergarten, maybe? They were preparing children to go to a shelter, and she might have overheard the older kids. During the last month schools and kindergartens in Kyiv and Lviv (I’m not sure about the other cities) taught children what to do in case of an air raid. We were all urged to prepare survival bags, or, if literally translated from Ukrainian, “an anxious backpack.” There were dozens of how-to articles everywhere. Yet we didn’t pack ours until now. I keep telling myself that we will come back in a week, covered with shame. Another voice in my head tells me that we may never come back if the city is occupied or destroyed. We send a couple of boxes with clothes by post to pick up in Lviv later. We take all the documents, many toys,

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