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Far Far Away. Yet so close. Marta Dyczok reports on leaving Kyiv for Toronto

07 August 2014 - 19:35 63
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Every morning the news headlines start with casualty figures, reports how many times Russia fired into Ukrainian territory, what was destroyed

plane windowA young woman with long blond hair drove me to Kyiv airport. She dreams about traveling. “Where would you like to go?” I asked. “To an island,” she answered. “The further away from here, the better.”

She lives in a country at war, even though war has not been declared. Every morning the news headlines start with casualty figures, reports how many times Russia fired into Ukrainian territory, what was destroyed. young driver admitted that she doesn’t watch the news, because it makes her cry.

There was extra security at Boryspil airport. New metal detectors have been installed at every entrance. But the security staff were courteous and friendly, as were the border guards. But they now wear fatigues. The woman who checked my passport was efficient, taking longer with some passengers than others. After carefully examining my travel document she smiled. And wished me a safe flight.

The aroma of war had floated onto the airplane flying out of Kyiv. It wasn’t until I’d landed in Frankfurt airport for my stopover, that it felt like I had left the war zone.

I hadn’t wanted to leave, but needed to go home and prepare for the fall term.

In Toronto a tall, dark-skinned man was my cab driver. I apologized that my suitcase was heavy, but he lifted into the trunk with little effort. Opening the door for me he said, “You look tired, where have you come from?”
“Ukraine.” I answered. “You know there’s a war going on there.”

“Yes,” he said. “Terrible. All those innocent people being killed.”

As he drove me through the peaceful streets of Toronto, I remembered saying goodbye to Ukraine’s National Security Council spokesperson, col. Andriy Lysenko. He’s the one who prepares and reads the twice daily updates on the war, that my Kyiv cab driver can’t listen to. “You’re leaving? Why?” he asked. I explained that I had to go back to my university. “Come back soon,” he said. “We’re going to win and invite you to the victory ceremony.”

I can’t wait to get on the plane for that.

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