A picture of Letizia battaglia showing a child and a rose. Ita has been shooted in Italy but it looks depicting the feeling of the Sarajevo Rose

Sarajevo Rose.

The Miljacka River flows gently between two mountain ranges covered by woods, it creates a narrow valley that gives to the city a slim elegant body, from where two wings of houses open covering the mountain slopes: Sarajevo is like a butterfly gently leaning on the valley as on the stem of a flower.

The Miljacka River flows gently between two mountain ranges covered by woods, it creates a narrow valley that gives to the city a slim elegant body, from where two wings of houses open covering the mountain slopes: Sarajevo is like a butterfly gently leaning on the valley as on the stem of a flower. The red bright Sarajevo Rose grows all along its streets. There is no real break between countryside and city, slowly the white of the houses are less and less till to be some milky drops on the green surface of the woods.

The noise of the cars vanishes, from the city center the road crosses the river and goes uphill. Quietly the wind blows and shakes the trees, few children play in the street, a woman pass by then a man on a bike. The doors of the houses are open, inside people cook, watch TV, read newspaper or simply sit. Clouds float gently. It is a landscape of a peaceful living. I sit on the roadside and I close the eyes.

A detonation. One more, and more and more, hundreds of sounds as syllables of the same, repeated word: death. The siege began. From these same woods, these landscape of a peaceful living a rain of bomb . The bodies of children men women are opened burnt tired apart, mutilated. The air smells of flesh, blood, gunpowder. Screams, crying, detonations: the voice of the war overcomes the city.

The massacre will go on for 1425 days, 13.952 human being will lose their lives. Civilians were the entertainment of snipers, in the area occupied by the Serbian Army people were gathered and killed, just that, easily, simply, gathered and killed. 13.952 human being died, the other lived to witness the horror, the raping, the brutality, the massacre.

Probably Sarajevo people struggled not only to survive but to keep them self as human in a world where human dignity was forgotten. The guys of a theatre company kept acting under the siege to give the illusion of a normal living in a world dominated by death. Students and teachers gathered once a week to simply study, or the woman of that interview, she made a cake, a war cake she said, because it was the 8th of March and they would celebrate, they had to, they had to do whatever for their souls.

The wind blows and shakes the trees, 21 years are passed by but signs remained, Sarajevo Rose is not a flower. Every of the 470.250 shells fell on Sarajevo left scarf on the body of the city, their shape is like the one of a flower. After the war people of Sarajevo filled the scars with a red as blood resin as a memory of the ones who lost their lives. They were named Sarajevo Rose, a sweet gentle name to witness the horror, to do not forget, even if maybe the lost of memory looks the only way to salvation.

Some Serbian soldiers took a baby, they put the baby into an oven, they turned the oven on, they forced the mother to look at her baby. They took the baby out of the oven only once cooked, to give him back to the mother. For over a month 12 women from the Kalinovik Camp were selected by Serbian soldiers. They have been raped, night and day, for over a month. The youngest was 16 years old. The wind blows and shakes the trees, a bird fly lightly to west, the sun is high, warm. A man saw two of his neighbourhoods captured in the woods when trying to escape from Srebrenica. Serbian soldiers carved Christian crosses on the skin of the two prisoners and then they had fun with their cigarettes, smoking laughing joking and turning off the cigarettes on the prisoners’s skin till they get bored and slaughters the two men. Maybe memory is the only way to salvation.

I walk back to the city centre. There are people shopping, talking, looking at, sitting in a bar, buying tomatoes in a market, 21 years are passed by the horror, still the signs of the bullet decorate the buildings, still the Sarajevo Rose flourish unexpectedly behind a corner, but the bars are open, the coffee is good, the life flows, what I was expecting to find? Corps in the streets? A destroyed city good to make pictures for this article? I am here to do what, to see what? To understand how far can men go? I really needed to see Sarajevo? What I am expecting to learn? Maybe just that a massacre can become a tourist attraction.

The old city is elegant, light, there is nothing of that monumental attitude of others European capitals. Eastern and western art converse to create a unique intimate space of beauty. So long Muslims, Orthodoxies, and Christians lived in peace, most of the marriages were mixed and there was just one society, till somebody created a war, brainwashed the populations, made people perceive the different one as an enemy, as television is still doing creating reasons for the rage, reasons to fight, reasons to go on with Holy wars, reasons to paint millions of Sarajevo Rose.

Would you imagine? From one day to another who were friends and relatives start to kill each other. Fortunatley the reason is clear to everybody here in the balkans: economy and politic, after the war the west took over ex Jugoslavia.

The gentleness of Sarajevo people seduces me, but cemeteries fill the city, cemeteries as white constellation of steles pointing at the sky as to blame the heaven. Cemeteries as a swarm of white as dead hands, cemeteries, cemeteries. I breathe together with the dead, Sarajevo breath together with their dead, but life goes on, there are people shopping, talking, looking at, sitting in a bar, buying tomatoes in a market.

I came to Bosnia curious about the war, is it not that a bit sick? As I arrived in Mostar instead of war people thought me life: I ve been invited to a puppet show for children, later on a guy gave me a kilo of peach, another offered me a coffee, another one gave me a bag of Bosnian tobacco, another did not charge me an entrance fee, Welcome to Bosnia he said. I was so smart to be almost disappointed because I could not smell atrocity but sweetness. There were signs of the war, but too less, or less spectacular than I thought, at least where I ve been.

I came to Sarajevo to learn what? How deep is the darkness of the human soul? I knew already, it is what history thought us, that is why sometimes I would forget because memory looks useless.

The first world war should have been the last war, should have been, it should have been the last one but no. We needed to kill again and another was planned and fought: 60 million people died in a conflict that made join all the world in the name of death. Nobody forgot the horror of the second world war. The Nazis were Germans. Are the Germans bad? Later on the Jewish bombed Palestine. Are the Jewish bad? For three days Moroccan soldiers raped and murdered the people of Ciociaria (Italy). Are Moroccans bad? The Italians troop massacred 175 civilian at Domenikon (Greece). Are the Italians bad? Serbian massacred Bosnians. Are the Serbian bad? Muslims and catholic both killed in the name of God. Others men killed and kill in the name of politic, economy, even in the name of love. Horror looks a cultural value we all share. The all world would be a garden if everywhere we spilled blood we paint a Sarajevo Rose.

“Do not forget” is written on a wall. Do not bother yourself brother, We will never forget but memory looks useless, history thought has very little, or just one truth: it will happen again.

SDF fighters captured al Hal Market east of Raqqa and several strategic buildings.n 9 IS members killed including 2 snipers”. It is the 02th of July 2017, 21 years are passed by and this is the latest news I ve got from Syria when I was in Sarajevo.

 

Gabi

I am Gabi, an itinerant traditional music player and storyteller, founder and content writer of OTW.

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