Each year we would visit the graves of family members who had passed. Some would congregate beside tombstones, others picked at the overgrown plants that had risen, as bones nourished the soil in which they now reside. In the West graveyards are usually pristine, places where the eyes do not falter. But in this land death has a way of deepening senses. The art of faces, perishing into the past. In the West the dates between birth and death are not often surreal, yet here in this blood immersed land they glare below a sun that states the abrupt endings of life. 1989-1999. 1975-1999. 1980-1999. These were the years where the youth had no knowledge of what peace had to offer. They witnessed their fathers leaving their homes at noon to protest arm in arm. Marching unarmed towards militarised units and tanks with the capacity to crush their bones, sweep them to the side as if they were dust. And who would these policemen answer to, for inhumane crimes? Not a single prosecutor. They were immune to a colonial disease that eviscerated the soul of my people. The taste of teargas was food in which they offered; bullets were the currency of the state. Professors, doctors, intellectuals were all assigned as criminals, in their eyes. Neighbourhoods turned into secret havens, where men risked their lives to teach language that God had bestowed upon them. The human right to express a DNA, an identity, their lineage. Women and men wandered the curfew streets like spies in order to sustain an existence. Children traumatised before they had even learned to read or write. Maybe this was their plan all along, to silence us by ways of illiteracy and dependence. Yet we defied. Professors, activists, civilians and students became unarmed soldiers, their intellect was the armour of silent warfare. The regime’s archives will have you believe that guerrillas were responsible for the commencement of the war. In truth, this war had begun decades before. When they suppressed our language, fearing that words were the power to encapsulate wisdom. When they removed intellectual men from their positions of work and degraded them into becoming second-class citizens, knowing that their honour and obstinance would leave trails of sweat on bedsheets, along with terrors of the night. They carefully alienated an entire generation that had lived in peace during the years of Josip Tito. Albanians and Serbs had lived as one until ultra-nationalism became a serpent within the empire. My evidence is in experiences faced during the war. My father’s life was spared, by a Serb who had recognised him during the years in which they played professional football in the Yugoslav leagues. Those who profess of an intractable history, do not see or recognise or even acknowledge these instances of heart and flesh. They do not see the surface of human connection from their high castles where they plot and sharpen their philosophies of division as they plan the arraignment of innocent men. We cannot claim that every Serb was a warmonger, seeking to devour all that stood in his path. Just as we cannot forget the atrocities carried out by paramilitary forces as they ransacked villages, like Roman barbarians; burning houses and lining men and young boys across brick walls to massacre them without reason, nor reflection. Throughout human history powerful men with a lust for dominion have altered the fates of innocent people as if they were Gods. What they cannot see: is their ultimate destruction, their time usually comes. Either by guillotine or human justice. It surely comes. And the agency is returned to the intellects, the professors and the doctors, to the farmers and village-men who have worked the lands and terrain for centuries. They know a wild animal with a thirst for blood when they see one. The tyrants mistook their hospitality, respect and honour; for weakness. Within their creation is the will to protect their lands and their neighbours from hostile and murderous men, who speak nothing but the literature of violence and death.
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