“During the day I saw many smiling people—for example, a woman who was sitting next to two big shopping bags on a park bench. She spoke to me in an absurdly happy voice, saying that she was waiting for her nephew to help her carry the bags home. ‘I’m so happy to have you standing next to me now, talking to me,’ she said. ‘When there are two of us, I’m less afraid of the artillery.’ She used to work as a museum guide at Saint Sophia Cathedral, and now she’s a pensioner. She is convinced that Ukraine will defeat the Russian invaders: ‘When I think about the frescoes of Saint Sophia, I believe that Ukraine will be protected by the whole world.’ She smiled, tears welling in her eyes. ‘We will win,’ she said. I didn’t know if she was crying more or laughing more, but I felt her courage and admired her. Is today only the third day of the war? Mariupol: fifty-eight civilians wounded. Kyiv: thirty-five people, including two children. This is far from a complete account. It feels strange to find myself in this broad, unarmed, almost delicate category: ‘civilians.’ For war, a category of people is created who live ‘outside the game.’ They are shelled, they must endure the shelling, they are injured, but they do not seem to be able to give an adequate response to it. I don’t believe this to be the case. There is something hidden in the smiles that I saw several times today—a secret weapon, an uncanny one.” – Yevgenia Belorusets, “Day 3, Saturday February 26, Bomb Shelter,” War Diary (trans. Greg Nissan)

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