I walk by these historic streets of old brick and oak. A man with an absence of glimmer behind his eyes looks ahead at the world with a grin of indifference. Men of sanctity in their white, traditional robes. The eye’s of women behind the piety of black cloaks. Maroon churches, decorated with the sins of man. Prophets hung – like trophies of man’s immortality. I take shade before structures of a silent annexation of land and minds. The aroma of Eastern cuisine, amidst the contouring of reality. Societies split into microcosms. Men amongst other men, imbalanced in opportunity and wisdom. I walk past the modernity of man in the confidence of society’s content. Each step constructing a pillar of truth. The simplicities of existence fabricated within this material wealth. The elision of power and the elusion of justices; in so far that we may have lost sight. Nations, lighthouses without lights, candles without sparks. They write their novels of emancipation – in a room that’s ever so dark.
To my home. The place where my soul was brought forward to exist as a representative of this ancient people who have resisted the ages of persecution, endeavouring to protect their mortality as though they were cursed to succumb to the injustices set upon them. As this man with a future of aspiring notes, created from the sustenance of resistance. In the rich and mysterious Balkan lands, of minerals exclusive to these earths of wisdom and poets, where words and bread are the foundations of one’s mortal respectability. Where blood was never rationed but broke away from the skin as a requisite to the fertility of the pastures. I was assigned as a member of this so called tribe, to which I learned to remit the once sense of questionability of encountered sufferances. I’m aware that humanity has been fatigued and devoured by nationalistic creeds, yet beside my soul, within my fingertips, underneath all sense of rational doubt, I am drawn to the portrait of my home city. Nominated either by a deity or by cosmic fate, I shall not speculate in respect to the reader. I am a live witness of the horrors that once caused this people’s ambitions to become derelict in the prisms of ideologues, by cleansing another’s life for the opportunity of colonial expansion. I am a young dissident, writing in a land that was not deficient in empathising with the lives of thousands of others who were pawned as lifeless monopoly into the hills that never spoke of the atrocities which they forcibly housed. The wails and the bones remain a secret of which history arbitrates. By fortune – the ones who survived by wheelbarrows, tractors and God-given feet, escaped the descent into the bloodied soil of a land that was viewed so historically vital to those who would cause widespread desecration against a people perceived as their inferiors. Now, my city of birth remains as a victim of a quasi-apartheid. A stranger to the foundations of words and bread. Long ago, ancient tribesmen and warriors made claim to their homes near the River Iber whose natural wealth was denounced over the centuries into a state of bridging two sets of people apart. Both sides hailing their flags of honour. The North, the province of red, blue and white – in Christendom. The South, reddened in a black double-headed eagle, Islamised by Ottoman rule. I have walked the streets of the divided corridors and all I have ever seen in the absence of powerful and propagandist words of affirmation, are the eyes of human beings. Yes, the eyes of human beings – in the centre of their existences. Old men playing dominoes at dawn in their honorary cafes. Old women conversing along the bridge which separates the eternally entrenched. And I have come to the conclusion of the absurdity of it all. I know not who is my enemy – and the other my friend.
To this devotion, I am a servant. In even the most stoic of men; the fine print of transcripts and scriptures of rational thinking – a world is occurring before these eyes that dwell on the faint mascara trails. Her blackened eyelids, morning eyes that vibrate at the thought of a dawn of another day. She does not know that the vibration of my eyes are given light by the contextual life that we find ourselves in. It’s past midnight, we walk the streets as guards. Yet the only thing we ever guard is our hearts – if we are wise. We stop before a house that should be standing, alone, far away in the deep greenery of village seclusion. A misfit amongst the surrounding hotels and bars. There is a tree and a faint street light, its rays omitted from the nucleus of the tree’s platform. Underneath the summer leaves, the intimate progression of palms around waists and the weight of Erôs. Lips caressing lips. Now I know why we never kiss with our eyes open. We do not feel with open eyes. We feel with blind, sacred passion. I read what the contemporaries write, about the conceptions of what it means to have chemistry personified. They exclude the fauvism of human art. Of modern, soulful intimacy. The edges are blunt. We cannot narrow such a thing down to a few words. As though Plato never spoke of his theories on desire and emotion, how this fire that runs through us is like a disease. In his words; every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.
I see the skin of this woman. Bare before my morning eyes. Pale as the light that rests on blanco walls. Softness is her essence. Her red hair; the fragrance of entire summers. She stands as a statue with the windows open, absorbing the fluidity of the city views. Colours between shadows. Exclusive noise, airing through modern transmissions of music. Small baubles of light, their microscopic rays shining through the creme room. Comets of fire endowed by ginger aromas. The heat of candlelight. Increasing temperatures. Firm beatings of the heart. My lips, on the border of her inner thighs – each pore on the surface of her skin is coronated as a regal feature. A regal woman with the affirmation of aristocracy. Subtleness which only the divine can assemble. Now she lays wondrous on the silk bedding. Reddened lips, like two slices of plums softly basking in the summer light. Midnight has overtaken our hearts and now we lay as two lovers, not knowing that the end is near. At times how I long for its return. To touch your lips – for just one more night.
The year is 2021. We have been greeted by a plague. Many did not see it coming. This, the vulnerability of man. We are simple creations. Otherwise we would not be warring. Men amongst men. Turning against their own brothers – and for what? What have we ever accomplished through war, televised images of constant bombardment that haunts cities and changes the perspective of men? What have we been aspiring to claim? To oust? Only ourselves. We will return to the soil but we forget that we came from the stars. We send armies into regions and only skeletal matter remains. Some are found and they are given honourable funerals where pain can never be omitted. Yet there are tens of thousands of stories that remain unarchived in the soil. They have returned to the earth and the perpetrators who live in the presence of their crimes will never be at peace. In this life nor the next. Sniper fire from city roofs. Ricocheting off buildings. The melody of the city night. The accustomed national anthem of mourning. Here they have bled. It is seen on their flags as a red treasure. The dead are the blood symbols of martyrdom. Murdered for who they were and who they would become. The love for your own nation can be often seen as damaging to a population, but how can we not have love for a country we were born in? Where as children we saw the visual representation of what it is to be human. The surrounding beauty of what has been created. And we continue to disintegrate cities into rubble. Violence has a way of creating its own worlds. Its effects are innumerable, to the point where it continues to replicate form. We created our own cities, first in the image of the sun. Then came the spiritual renaissance, the birth of an orator who spoke in the language of the divine. So we created metropolises in the image of God. Men who once hid behind the presence of the sun found refuge and sanctity in something greater. They became perilous. False prophets emerged as witnesses testified to the crucifixion of a man who translated the poetry of God. Where do you think our words emerge from, if not the inner light? From the prophets, to the philosophers. From the poets to the people. I never studied literature. I was a commendable student at best. Yet these words flow through me as though I am a soul in the Danube River – escaping from the sound of artillery; from the lakes where bodies of war submerge.
He glared over the city skyline that had become an evident portrayal of hate. All he can hear in his blemished conscience is the deafening yet mellow tone of the echoing of sirens that has become an anthem in a city so obsessed with crime. Some are infatuated by this cancer that infects the root of mankind. Destroying core fragments that make us human beings. Capable of discovering empathy and wisdom, in a a world that harvests the fruits of misfortune and greed. The thirst for emancipation subsides with every minute drop of blood that trickles down the ambulances who have become veterans of hosting death. For centuries have passed yet some human beings continue to be abetted by evil. Maybe our lives were written to be rehearsed. Maybe this darkness is embedded in people’s hearts and souls. They constantly yearn for its presence. To conquer their existence and replenish the voids that cannot be filled by righteousness.
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.
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.
In a room of devout heat,I find myself meditating in front of her eyes. The imprint of my hands, on her inner thighs.Coordinated kisses on her fragranced neck. Each breath, a levitation. A resuscitated romance. Bedsheets on the apartment floor, as though an army had come to vanquish all who were present. In this moment there is only peace in her presence. I am not a prisoner of irrational ideations. I have entered the land of no men, where the structures by which we adhered to, no longer live in realm. There is no judgment in this land, where I now find my peace. Before me empires have risen and in hotel beds we lay as mortal men. This woman before me who feels like a dream. Surreal to the touch, serene in her speech. She is a painting before me, in the ivory night. If each man, has a destiny, one which he upholds; then nations would surrender their arms and the world. She brings composure to a man who yearns for the earth, in the jewelled hours of morning in Pristina, I gaze at the sun grazed outlines of a pearl. She speaks of the theories in her mind which she initially constructed. Sensing that I am a frivolous man, detained by my passions, of women and of justice. In the moment, I stutter and I question her words. Now I admit to the injustice of my initial reactions. Who am I to say that she is misrepresenting the truth, when deep down her words are factual? Men have allowed this inertia amongst the ego, to create depictions of our morality, where the truth is not measured by features of rationality. I say this not to confuse, but to rather allude, as deep within the soul, the truth is rarely misconstrued. I am an advocator of seeking timeless beauty in women, not just the aesthetic of her body & and face, but the immersions of her intelligence. There is no stronger armour in this world than a beautiful woman, with a mind like a philosopher queen, amongst strategists and strugglers. I have seen men fold when faced with this kind of woman. Their hearts become weak with seduction and fear, we know that women are the soul of this earth and so we, the men rarely persevere. We subjectively and readily degrade our women. Slowly deconstruct their psyches, suppress their passions and use it against them. We have mastered the art of hypocrisy and that of confusion, we bed numerous women yet defame the opposite gender for similar interactions. Historically we have segmented our women in numerous factions. Created laboratories of beauty within society’s mind. Devising a plan to decide which type of woman is the most preferable. White against black, petite against large, sacrilegious against non-believing, we the patriarchy of man.