War part I

Mothers were baking corn bread in traditional kitchens. On antique stoves, when word of the Cetniks presence was made known to the village elders. War had erupted in clusters months before. Guerrilla fighters appeared from their enclaves in the hills. An army appeared from the regime’s capital Belgrade and other Yugoslav cities; as men emerged and were assigned to darkness. I was all but a boy when a special forces officer took reign of our home. As if it were his body and soul that had spent nights in the Balkan snow, chauffeuring replicas of the same faces in a city entangled by the art of separatism. The officers body to my recollection grew inch by inch as he made his way into the living area where our grandfather’s used to philosophise and smoke. His command was that we all sit and not be afraid. But how can one control their emotional state, when a trio of six feet 6 men walk through a door that exemplifies safety, armed in government prescribed signatures, whose ink is inscribed in bullets? An image that will stay with me until the day of my death is the sight of a soldier’s left eye that I could see emerging from his black balaclava. I was told years later when my understanding of the war had matured, that they had demanded dinar, jewellery and passports that would ensure safety for our family of eight. We were accompanied by our aunt and her family, whose sons, my cousins, were at the age where the military would commit their murder. In the blink of an eye. So we hid our sons and our cousins. We prayed to God for our sisters and our mothers. We knew that our home would be burned to a ground that had raised us through sources of nutrition and pride. Yet these men were acting in direct retribution for a sin we had never committed. Faces that we had never seen, would be imprinted in the occurring thoughts of all those who were of age to witness. I remember the war in frames. A polaroid memory. If I exert enough energy in retaining clarity I am taken to the moments of entering a bus in the night; where the light was evidence to a picture of progressive pain. Faces, half way between content and grief. 

2 thoughts on “War part I

  1. I randomly thought of you tonight… hope you’re keeping safe and well during these times. It’s remarkable to know that you’re still writing and this is great piece.

    Like

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