A Dawn is Coming

by Aleksandr Smirnov

In hindsight, it seems that I was being prepared for this for some time before it actually happened. I am now noticing how songs that made the deepest impressions on me seemed to all include such words as: 

“…I must leave it all behind
The war is over
Lift the anchor, set an open course” 


“…I’d fly to you tomorrow, I’m not fighting in this war
I wanna drop my arms and take your arms
And walk you to the shore”. 

I didn’t notice it for the longest time and then ever so subtly those words became the ones I would cling to. That happened after February 24th, 2022. A time that I’d spent in constant tears. A time when I saw just how much anger I was capable of feeling.

I had left my home just a few months before. But I never thought that I might never return. It has to be one of the worst feelings in the world — not knowing that it was the last time. Concocting that with a hope that it wasn’t, made for the most miserable year. However, at times when that hope wasn’t smothering me, it was the beacon that helped me to keep going. Music has always been my outlet to explore my own emotions, but I could not bring myself to write anything of my own. Nothing I could say felt right or appropriate. I had no idea how to explain this feeling in a way that didn’t just seem like a soulless paragraph, so I’ll let this song take the mic (or pen, if you will):

Aside from my personal troubles, I began thinking on a larger scale. I realised that regardless of how this war would end, our entire region will keep suffering for decades to come. Each of their own pain; there’s way too much of that now to go around. The air above our countries will smell of mutual disaffection. Or rather: anger and suffering on one side, and guilt and suffering on the other. That’s no way for neighbors to live, but whether we like it or not, there is no other way now. After so many innocent dead, families lost and many more displaced, how can there be even talk of becoming friendly again anytime soon. But there is still that hope which I hold deep in my heart. It is not a hope for a swift reconciliation, but a hope that we will all heal. Maybe such an effort as this one is a good place to start:

Writing this is incredibly difficult for me and hard I might try, I cannot come up with the right words. But something needs to be said. Perhaps it is because there are no right words to describe how one feels when their country invades their neighbor. Yes, I am Russian and not a day goes by that I don’t feel utter shame and anger about the despicable war that my homeland waged against Ukraine. I can’t find the right words because words cannot make any of this better. All I know is that Ukraine is fighting for their dawn to break and a resistance with such purity of heart cannot fail. I commend the Ukrainian people to the utmost degree and show my undivided support. My heart aches for their loss that I am utterly incapable of even imagining. And I want to show my sympathy and support the only way I know how: with music. 

As I had already mentioned, I can’t seem to capture what I feel and want to say with my own music (not that this short piece of writing expresses it well). However, music kept being made this year. Great music! It gives me the will to persevere, seeing that when I am unable to express myself, there are others that will. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. And I know that Ukrainians will not forgive us for a very long time. Maybe not ever. But in this time of such unbearable suffering, I only hope to reach out to them just to let them know that they’re not alone. There are Russians that wholeheartedly wish for Ukraine to reclaim their homeland and freedom. I am sure that our numbers are not meager. 

The two songs above speak to the one and only hope that I held dearest throughout this year and will continue to do so until the war is over and Ukraine prevails: that we will all see a sunrise after this pitch black night. Each will see their own. I believe that a dawn is coming.