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Ukraine's capital city Kyiv has emerged from a 35-hour curfew

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, has emerged from a 35-hour curfew. It was imposed on the entire city amid continued Russian bombardment, and it is the reason our team abruptly left Kyiv a couple days ago. This morning, I called our translator who briefly worked with us while we were there, Tanya Ustova, to get a sense of what life is like.

TANYA USTOVA: We are thinking more about Mariupol, for instance, because what is happening there is real catastrophe.

FADEL: Mariupol has suffered from some of the worst attacks since the start of the Russian invasion three weeks ago. A theater there that was believed to be sheltering hundreds of people was bombed yesterday. The death toll remains unclear. But before the attack, to try and fend off Russian forces, the Russian word for children had been written in large white letters on the pavement outside. People living in Mariupol are living in constant fear, but Kyiv is also a target. Despite the danger, Ustova is choosing to stay.

USTOVA: You feel that you just need to stay. It's your home. That's all. Because I remember a conversation with my friend the week before the war. He was talking that he doesn't like some things in Ukraine. You know, how we - how usually people do. Maybe you don't like something about your hometown, as well.

FADEL: Yeah.

USTOVA: We all don't like something. And I was like, OK, but I want to have choice when I'm going to leave, you know?

FADEL: Yeah.

USTOVA: Of course, I don't have children.

FADEL: Yeah.

USTOVA: For me, it was just, I'm staying. This my home, and you cannot run.

FADEL: Do you feel safe where you are now?

USTOVA: Yes, I feel safe because I'm not alone here. My friends are with me. People who I love are with me, and that gives you a great sense of psychological support.

FADEL: Yeah. When we met a couple days ago, you told me you had had a very tough night, emotionally, processing what's happening to your country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

USTOVA: If I'm still alive, I'm going to check on my favorite coffee shop and drink some wonderful cup of coffee.

FADEL: I just want to talk to you about dealing with what's happening to your country.

USTOVA: Yes, of course. (Laughter) That was just funny voice. I would like to say I really, truly respect people who are working under these conditions. And there was a coffee shop I was talking about - great coffee shop with great coffee. And the way he's running this cafe, he's working, and you're not paying for the cup of coffee; you're paying directly to donate Armed Forces of Ukraine. And that is great because people who are not here to engage in military, they're trying to help Ukraine.

FADEL: But I want to talk about what you're going through, personally. This is your country, your city. I mean, it can't be easy.

USTOVA: No, it's not easy. I believe that I, personally, have this emotional process when you can't really feel something. So, you know, you just don't have these emotions. You're like, OK, there is something wrong. And maybe it's still making us human beings because you have this hope - OK, this will not happen to me - just deep, deep inside, because there is something terribly wrong of, you know, waking up and checking up on your friends and checking up on news, OK? That's not an ordinary activity for the morning, right?

FADEL: Right.

USTOVA: I believe that I will deal with some huge and big emotions afterwards. You just cannot feel emotions because you cannot allow it to yourself right now if you are in a more safer place.

FADEL: Tanya Ustova is a journalist and filmmaker in Kyiv. Thank you so much. I'm so sorry for all you're going through and all your country's going through.

USTOVA: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.