A young Nanaimo man is worried about his Ukrainian friend after he was conscripted into the war.
Arjan Manhas has spent countless hours playing Grand Theft Auto while forming a friendship with Petro who lives in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.
His friend, however, is no longer online.
“I’ve been sending texts every day hoping to get a response from my friend,” said Manhas, who says it’s tough not hearing anything back.
Manhas started playing the video game with Petro five years ago. They share a similar age, interests and political views such as a strong belief in democracy.
It was also a mutually beneficial relationship. Petro got to improve his English while Manhas improved his gameplay.
“Of course with the time difference, my mom wouldn’t enjoy hearing this but I would stay up late just to play with him because he was so good. Don’t tell him I said that but he was better than I was so I thought I should keep playing with this guy cause he’s so good,” said Manhas.
After learning about the Russian invasion, Manhas reached out to Petro and Thursday they were able to talk.
“He said that he could hear artillery shelling not too far from his apartment and that it was getting really scary and he said this might be the last time I ever talk to you and that’s when it became really real to me that my friend is in danger,” said Manhas.
Petro and his father were being conscripted into the army while his mother and sisters were going to try and flee the country.
That was the last Manhas heard from his Ukrainian friend.
Since then, he’s been glued to the war coverage and it’s all left him feeling helpless.
“I felt I couldn’t help him. He would always talk about coming to Canada to come to visit me, coming to the prairies and meeting some Canadian-Ukrainians and it’s just hard,” said Manhas.
Manhas is praying the war will end soon and his friend Petro will survive so they will not only be able to game together again but one day they will meet in person.