BACK THEN, WHEN WE WERE DEAD, Part Three
(panoramic view of old center of Karlovac)
I am living in a small green town on four rivers. In addition, there are some creeks and swamps, so it's not strange that all this water influenced our lives somehow. That's why people of Karlovac have pretty strong relations with their town and rarely move out. However, that was the case in peace, one and only peace of our lives, before 1991st, because there is no peace after the war. At least not the one we used to know, when you are completely calm and relaxed and sure that you will never be a part of a war, like we were sure while we were kids. Physical casualties are not the worst part of the war, because you can explane those to everybody. But this piece of you, or your soul, that was ripped out forever, that's something that will make you anxious for the rest of your life and you will be unable to explane that to anyone that haven't shared the same feeling. Today, life can be nice, life can be happy, life can be relaxed and worth living. But, life will never be complete again, just like our town will never be complete, without all those people that supposed to become bus drivers, annoying clerks in post office, nice girls in the park, young mothers with cute babies, basketball players, guys in a caffe bar, old guys playing chess on the bench, or anything else. People that were meant to be part of our lives, of our town, but disappeared in those years, back then, when we were dead.
(entrance to a main Karlovac street, Stjepan Radic Street, in the first days of war)
(kindergarten in the main Karlovac park, one that both my younger brother and I attended)
(street in suburbs where I used to rode bike when I was a kid)
3. So. Central Rain/Sanjati*
(*Sanjati - To dream, song by bosnian group Crvena jabuka /Red apple/)
It happens sometimes, in some moments of loneliness. You suddenly feel like The World stopped again, that you are dead again, and that nobody is around, nobody but you, scared 16-year old kid, that at the same time does not want to show his fear and wants someone to understand it, to hug him and to tell him that everything is going to be fine.
It happens that you miss them, that you feel guilty, that you blame them for leaving, like it wasn't enough that we were all dead already...and they had to die even a little bit more, so that they never come back.
And you think about them.
You think about Hasko, summer and aroma of peaches in the air...two of you sitting by the river and singing Crvena jabuka songs....you think of Klajnsek, you see him in Radiceva Street, smiling, all happy, back then in the First World...you think of Hrvoje, poking you with pencil during math exam, asking you to tell him few answers...you think of trees turned into obituaries, dead bodies near fountain, dead 7-year old girl and her grandma, pregnant woman killed in front of hairdresser saloon, near the Children Center...you think of Brka, that first lost his hand, and then lost himself...you think of Branimir, you can see him laughing in his room, while some silly song is on the radio...you think about 10-months old baby, you think about that family in red Yugo45, you think of Sasha's brother....and you think of Suzana, and that policeman with tears in his eyes, hugging her little sister and taking her away from all of this...
You think about cemetary that covers the meadow, so fast...meadow where you used to have birthday parties...
And you think of numbers, read in newspapers, heard on radio and TV, back then, when we were already dead just enough, so that real death was nothing else but another number, another spot of meadow digged up, another numb group of dead people on a hill, entombing a dead one.
And you are sorry.
You are so f*ucking sorry, that you simply have to blame yourself.
And sometimes, in those nights, when you are nothing else but a scared 16-year old boy again, you are sorry that you haven't guarded First World better, or that you never did anything, no matter how small it would be...
That you never, at least, stood in the middle of the street and said:
"Don't. Please, don't".