Masha was walking down briskly through the dimly-lit hospital corridor. Moans arose on all sides: adults, children, injured soldiers… bombs aren’t particular, they don’t care who will be killed. There were so many people that there was not enough room, and the corridor became the largest and the most difficult ward. There were both injured and those for whom the hospital became the last shelter in their destroyed city.
Masha was passing by people and hearing their talks. Here is a soldier with a bandaged blackened hand – he is just a kid yet – and he is trying to make a tear-stained little girl laugh. And here is a pregnant woman with a huge belly, she is stroking it and telling to her unborn baby never be afraid of anything, because she will protect him. For a moment the pregnant raised her eyes to Masha and she saw that the woman will definitely shield the child with her body from all horrors that might expect him. In her eyes there was an iron determination to save a child from the war in which he was going to be born…
Masha quickened her pace, rounded the corner at the end of the corridor and entered into a tiny ward. There, a bed to bed, were laying three bandaged mummies in which people were scarcely recognized. “My children,” Masha sobbed. “Mom, no, please don’t cry!”, one of the “mummies” said hoarsely. Masha approached him and put a bandage straight; he looked at her with his twinkling bright blue eyes from under that bloody bandage. “Leshka, you only want lollying! We’ve bandaged you from head to foot, but you cannot rest!” Masha gave him a drink and nodded toward other two patients of the ward almost imperceptibly: “Have Ihor and Sasha come to after being wounded?” The one called Lesha looked away so that mother couldn’t see pain and awful fear of loss in his eyes. Muted “no” hanged in a stuffy room as a sentence.
“Soon bombing will cease and real doctors will come and help the boys”, Masha chattered very quickly trying to convince herself and her son. Lesha closed his eyes, saying nothing. “Get some sleep, dear, get some sleep, I’ll come later and bring you something to eat.” With one last look at all her three sleeping boys, Masha walked on tiptoe out of the ward.
And then there were the corridor and moans and fragments of people’s lives again and again. It seemed to Masha that she wouldn’t stand all those children’s eyes bright with panic, all those soldiers who should visit classes and dating girls, but not to lie here injured. Masha felt all that pain as her own.
Here is the next door. “How are you, my children?”, Masha asked stepping into the ward. “We are ok, mom!”, the chorus of men’s voices answered. The door closed behind the woman and she was left alone with her sons.
Almost none of the people who saw Masha in the hospital every day knew that this frail sixty years old woman carried seven young soldiers out of the field. The boys were doomed to die after bombing, after attack where they supposed to become a cannon fodder. And no helmets, no body armors saved them, no help arrived; there was only Masha that saw the bodies scattered over the field.
The woman that couldn’t have children, but who was a mother for all sons.