Silence gone

Khomutynsi, Vinnytsia region – a village along the river Postolova in central Ukraine with 606 citizens, 201 houses, about one third of which are abandoned. It is hidden from all highways, surrounded by fields, forests and a destroyed railway from the 30s. “I wish I lived in a city, I would watch people walking past from my balcony. It’s dead quiet here, like expulsion”, says Raisa Moroziuk, 90, retired teacher. She moved here to retire with her husband from the big industrial city of Kryvyi Rih. Most of the people living here are elderly. Every other month there is a funeral in the village. On May 2 an ambulance came to take to the hospital Tetiana Yarmoliuk, 73, who died the same day. The village was holding its breath after finding out that the hospital had to test her for coronavirus. The test came out negative. The drive to the Koziatyn town hospital is twice as long as to the closest one in Kalynivka, which was closed for the quarantine after 37 healthcare workers were diagnosed with COVID-19. Anyone who would need a hospital has to look for the alternatives. The buses connecting the village with closest town have been cancelled leaving the villagers on full lockdown. When Ukraine introduced the quarantine on March 12 in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 disease, a lot of people came to the village to their parents, grandparents. “Even the houses which have been empty for a while are now inhabited” says Liudmyla Nechyporuk, the secretary at the village council. She adds that there is much more paper work after quarantine was announced but happy that there is no virus in the village yet. While the entire country was getting empty streets, the village was getting life which hadn’t been seen here for a long time. A few days before the funeral, at the cross overgrown with weed and trees, was a car accident, no casualties but police had to evacuate one car as it was completely broken. This event left people upset as no one knew the drivers. The village looks more crowded than ever. While Urban citizens had to invent new delivery services and quarantine products start ups, the village already had all needed survival mechanisms. People get milk, eggs, meat delivery from those who still have small domestic farms. The local, tiny grocery has being taking special orders for some particular uncommon goods for a long time. It might take up to three days to get the order: to pick it up you will need to go to the shop and find a product with your surname written on it on a shelf. In soviet times a local church was burnt as religion was forbidden at a time. Raisa Moroziuk, whose house is located next to the church, remembers how in crisis 1990s villagers where building a new church together. There are a couple of religious events in spring which no one in the village ever misses, Easter and commemorating Sunday a week after Easter. Due to the coronavirus, both events were forbidden. The priest still came at night to bless the Easter bread and those who knew about it violated the law and went to church. For the commemoration Sunday, police was already better prepared. A woman, sitting at a grave, quietly asked me if the policeman was still at the entrance. Usually this is a day when everyone meets each other being dressed up and use this day as a possibility for socialising. The rest of the cemetery was completely empty except for the lone policeman standing in the corner. It was a picture of the quarantine with one scared woman near the grave and a policeman at the far end of the graveyard. The policemen said that the priest still came to the cemetery but was told to leave. The usual quietness will regain its power after the quarantine and will wait until the next time the nature will remind people of old houses which come in use only when you feel threatened.


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Created by Marichka

Ukraine 04 Dec 2020