'I feel like the world is coming to an end': S'porean feared the worst for family in Ukraine as Russia invaded

Ms Nathalia Lossovska and her husband Mahesh Rai with their children in Singapore. PHOTO: NATHALIA LOSSOVSKA

SINGAPORE - For more than two hours on Sunday (Feb 27), she went through an emotional roller coaster.

Singaporean Nathalia Lossovska felt dread, anxiety, and even thought that something terrible may have happened to her family in Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion by Russia.

Her WhatsApp messages to her 65-year-old father, Mr Ihor Lossovskyi, and sister Oleksandra, 18, who live in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, did not go through.

Ms Lossovska, 36, tried calling. But, again, there was deafening silence at the other end.

She did not know what to do. The in-house lawyer at an insurance brokering company here had been calling them since 3pm (9am Ukraine time) and every time her call went unanswered, she became more jittery.

She began to cry.

She told The Straits Times on Monday in a phone interview: "My dad doesn't sleep for long, so I was thinking why are they not answering me... I was just beside myself."

Then, after hours of uncertainty and jangling nerves, there was relief.

Her father, a retired diplomat and currently a civil servant, messaged her.

She said: "My father replied and said he'll call me, and just needed to charge his phone. They were just so exhausted from the previous night, they were kind of trying to sleep.

"In my head, I was imagining the worst-case scenario that something is going on... you never know."

Ms Lossovska, who left Ukraine when she was 12 and has been living in Singapore for the last 12 years, said she is very worried about the safety of her family, following the worsening crisis there.

She tries to get hourly updates from them. With the six-hour time difference, she stays awake until late in the night and calls or messages her father before she goes to sleep.

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"They shared with me that two nights ago, there was shelling very close to where they live," said Ms Lossovska.

Her father told her: "You can hear it, you can see it. You don't know whether it's coming towards you or not."

She said her father and her sister, a university student, have had to move to their apartment's basement carpark during the night in case of air raids.

Ms Nathalia Lossovska with her father Ihor and sister Oleksandra during her wedding in Singapore in 2013. PHOTOS: NATHALIA LOSSOVSKA

She said those who have cars sleep in them, but her family does not have one and has had to sleep on the floor of the carpark.

Her maternal grandmother, who was also living in Kyiv, managed to fly to London 1½ weeks ago to live with Ms Lossovska's mother.

Tragedy struck her family on Sunday when her grandmother's sister died due to health reasons while on the way to seek refuge in the western side of Ukraine with other family members.

Describing her thoughts on the unfolding crisis, Ms Lossovska said: "I am having a thousand thoughts in one second. It's really difficult to describe. I feel like the world is coming to an end because how can something like this happen?"

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She has three children, aged seven, five and three, and has tried to explain to her two older children about the war, while shielding them from the gruesome details about it.

Mr Mahesh Rai, her 38-year-old Singaporean husband, who is also a lawyer, has been supporting her through this crisis. They met in London while they were pursuing their master's degree.

Her father came to Singapore in 2013 for the couple's wedding, his last visit to the country.

Ms Lossovska hopes that he will be able to visit again soon.

She said: "He met my first two kids a few times but he has never met my third child. I just hope all of this will finish and he can come and visit us."

If that visit happens, she hopes it will help heal the scars of war.

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