Brave and Rational, by Yevgenia Belorusets

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.

From a series of diary entries from Kyiv, Ukraine, published daily on isolarii.com.

february 24: I woke up early to see eight unanswered calls on my phone. It was my parents and some friends. At first I thought something had happened to my family and my friends were trying to reach me because, for some reason, my parents had alerted them first. Then my imagination went in another direction and I thought of an accident. I felt a cold uneasiness. I called my cousin, because her beautiful voice always has a calming effect on me, brave and rational. She just said: “Kyiv has been shelled. A war has broken out.”

february 26: At the dark entrance to our basement, I saw the silhouettes of residents scurrying past one another. I could overhear their petty arguments. Two older shadows passed by two younger ones: “Good evening!” “But the evening is not good!” the younger ones protested. “We wish you a good evening anyway,” the older ones said triumphantly, “because we mean well. And we will continue to wish it, to you and to the others!” In the park, a woman was sitting on a bench next to two big shopping bags. In an absurdly happy voice, she told me 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. When there are two of us, I’m less afraid of the artillery.” She was convinced that Ukraine would defeat the Russian invaders. I didn’t know whether she was crying more or laughing more.

february 28: Peaceful residents of the city of Berdyansk, in the south of the country, gathered in front of their local government building, which was occupied by Putin’s army and guarded by armed soldiers. The women shouted at the soldiers in Russian, “How can you look your mothers in the face? You brought war and slaughter to our land! Shame on you!” Old people were also in the crowd; they were not afraid. The soldiers looked demoralized. They replied: “We came to protect you!” The women resisted, they continued to protest, “We were never in danger here. There was no threat to us here before you came. Now, with you, because of you, we are in the greatest danger.” Then came cursed insults, which have a very great richness in the Ukrainian and Russian languages.


More from