Srebrenica in tears
We arrive at the school. It doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would. It is a two story building, the white paint is coming of a bit, the playground looks like a cage, surrounded by a fence. There are stairs going down and going up again. The school reminds me of my primary school but then a bit less well contained. The halls are small, the classrooms big, the seats and tables few. At the end of the hallway I see the toilets. The smell makes me stop for a moment, I regain myself and continue.
The smell that comes out of the toilet is inhuman, well maybe it isn’t really. Little shoes stand in line, I wonder why. A shower is dripping water on the ground, the tab is open. The little toilets seems to have never been cleaned before. I turn the corner and see more rooms, one worse than the other. Some rooms are empty, some have a couple of tables and seats, others only a blackboard.
I open the front door and see green mountains on the left side. On the right side I see high buildings, flats, with holes in it, many holes. Gun shots, gun wounds. The buildings tell a story that the people are unable to. The people who have been silenced in grief or in death. I leave the school and walk through the many graves, the white statues, the ghosts of the past. So many white poles, white crosses. So many death, what for? I can’t see it, I can’t understand it.
A lady is sitting near a grave. She is telling my fellow students a story. The story. The story of what happened here, to her family, to her people, to this village. She tells about the Dutchbat, the batallion who were under the command of the UN. The Dutchbat we know so little about. Peacekeepers to us, unhelpful to those who lived here, who fought here, who died here. She tells how she and her family begged in front of the gate. Begged the Dutch to let her in, give them food, shelter, safety. To safe them from harm, from death. The Dutchbat couldn’t help, they silently shook their heads, frowned their eye brows. With tears in their eyes they stood there, with disbelieve they had to watch the people get killed.
But not for her, for her the Dutchbat were the ones looking, the batallion that could stop her family from getting killed but didn’t do anything. Boys and men were put apart, shot in the head without so much of a blink of the eye. Women and girls raped, not killed. No one helped, everyone knew what was going on in Bosnia Herzegovina but no one helped. Not one country stopped the enemy from killing her family, destroying the once so beautiful town. Every day she is reminded of the tyranny, the unforgettable capability of human kind, killing each other. She will never get her family back, she will never live in happiness. Everyday reminded by the bottomless cruelty of mankind.
I see a big long white stone with many names carved in it. I read every single one of them, whisper them into the air. Respecting them, remembering them. The impotence of the innocent is unfair. The imbalance of humanity. The hatred towards each other, incomprehensible. I look at the houses, the clothes hang to dry. People started living again, getting back to life, finding a reason to live. Kids run around, play football, kick dogs, chase cats. Suddenly there are three girls hanging on my hands, smiling, talking. A boy walks behind me. He looks sad but is a stubborn little fellow. As soon as one of the girls let my hand go he comes in, grabs it tight in his little hand and doesn’t let go.
We hop, jump, run, catch each other. The kids are happy, at least they seem so. “Will you be there tomorrow?” One of the girls asks me. She speaks little English, looks up at me with her big brown beautiful eyes. “Odlazim sutra” my pronounciation isn’t at its best. She looks at me not understanding a word. “It means I’m leaving tomorrow” I tell her again. A tear runs down her cheek. A tear runs down my cheek as well. This place has grown on me, the children, the people, the beautiful nature, the wonderful food, the lovely culture. ‘Srebrenica, I will miss you’ I write on a wall. The kids hold my hand again and together we walk towards school with the sun setting behind us, one last time.