End of the World Diary, Pt. II – Natalia Klyuchareva

Translated from the Russian by Mariya Gusev


I read the news that Putin put nuclear weapons on high alert, decided to enjoy life for the last time, went to a coffee shop, drank a mango sea buckthorn smoothie. It was very tasty. At a nearby table, two blondes with oversized lips are arguing with a video of Zelensky on the phone: “So why aren’t you going to the talks?” Propaganda has found its way even to TikTok.


The fourth day of the war. All this time I am looking for at least some information about anti-war actions in our city. Silence. Finally, in a personal message, Y. writes that people will gather at 16:00 “in the main square of your city.” We began to think about which plaza was our main one. We decided that it was the Soviet Square, where the administration building is located.

They came with N. Strolling tourists, pigeons, the sun is shining. On the sidelines, a couple of guardsmen, looking bored. Some people slow their pace, and are standing, in groups of two. Should I come over and ask? They would think it’s a provocation. They’ll say, we’re just taking a walk. Yeah, we’re just walking too.

We walked around the square. Suddenly– hooray! – a small crowd. We get closer. See that the people in the crowd have fluffy tails, ears, wolf and fox snouts. A Bosch-style protest? No, a cosplay hangout.

We went to check the Square of the Epiphany. The one with the main transport interchange. Maybe this is the main one? There’s no one there either. I drew a peace sign with my finger in the snow. I waited, no one responded. N. offered, “Maybe you’ll write ‘No to War’?” – “How can I. The word ‘war’ is now banned.” — “Then ‘No W’?” — “I got it: “No, Vova”. And in general, the peace sign is too flagrant, the guardsmen also already know that this is not a Mercedes badge. We have to come up with some kind of an identification sign. For example, everyone comes to the square with fluffy tails.”
Half an hour later, A. came to Sovetskaya, saw one person on the porch of the administration building, with “No to War.” She walked up, told him that he was not alone – that here she was, and two more girls were there, but had already left. Soon the man was taken away by the guardsmen.
In the evening, Yu. wrote that people were arrested in Labor Square. “Thank God you didn’t go there.” Labor Square is away from the center, we didn’t even think about going there.


Today, some dad rolled into a school chat on a Russian tank — demanding that the teacher “tell the children, FROM THE RIGHT POINT OF VIEW, about the events in Ukraine.”
I wrote to him that there are at least two points of view here, and which one is correct is a question which allows no compromise, so let the school stay out of politics, while it’s still possible.

Another dad, whom I once met at a rally, wrote that we ourselves will tell our children what we consider necessary.


In my eldest daughter’s class, a girl whose mother works for the police said: “Raise your hands, if you support Putin.” Everyone’s hand flew up, but my child said: “I don’t know, my mother does not tell me anything about this.” Despite the fact that we talk to them every night about this, and I do not hide from the children neither what’s going on, nor how I feel about it.
My girl’s reaction—an instantaneous one, and the only adequate one in this situation—fascinated me. Where did that come from? Dissident genes?


I run into my classmate’s mother. She has always treated me well.

She asks me happily,

— “How are you?”
I’m perplexed by this question. It’s the fourth day of the war! But by inertia, I say,

— “Not good.”
She’s genuinely concerned:
— “Oh, did something happen to you?!”
Then, in my disconnected mind, some stories of a classmate about an ideological conflict with her mother begin to surface (“I made Navalny’s site her homepage, maybe at least something will catch on, in balance to Kiselev”). But I do not have time to adjust myself so still answer:
— “It did not happen to me. It’s happened to all of us.”
Within one second, waves of emotion roll over this kind woman’s face: bewilderment, understanding, disappointment, condemnation, contempt.
“The main thing is that you yourself are doing well,” she says, pursing her lips, and hurriedly leaves.
Only then it dawned on me that people living in a different information bubble are really not aware of what is happening.


I walk past the playground, my face buried in the news on my phone, and I hear: “It’s high time to throw these dolls out … Of the Kremlin”
I see: at the sandbox there is a grandmother with two granddaughters — about two, and five years old.
“You’re a doll yourself,” the younger one says sternly.


Aiming at the TV tower, they fucked up Babi Yar. I remembered Yevtushenko’s poem about Babi Yar and thought: it’s good that he did not live to see this. And then I thought: it’s good that everyone who did not live to see this, did not live to see this. My father, my grandmother, survivors of that war. Everyone who lies in military cemeteries under the rickety red stars. For the first time I understood what it means that “the living will envy the dead”.
And this thought — about it being a good thing, this not living to see — is now being thought by a lot of people.

Read End of the World Diary Pt. I here

Read a poem by Natalia Klyuchareva here

Photo – Russian military vehicles marked with the V symbol bombed by Ukrainian troops/Ministry of the Interior, Ukraine

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Categories: War in Ukraine


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