Lipa on Thu, 22 Apr 1999 18:21:41 +0100


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Syndicate: Fw: A Diary from Belgrade 26 March - 6 April 1999


Here is an earlier part of the diary I forwarded
to the list yesterday. Some readers wrongly
assumed that I wrote it. I did not. I am not there.

This diary was written by a Belgrade writer who
will remain anonymous for the time being.
==========================


March 26th, 1999, 5 p.m.

I hope we all survive this war and the bombs: the Serbs, the Albanians, the bad
and the good guys, those who took up the arms, those who deserted, the Kosovo
refugees traveling through the woods and the Belgrade refugees traveling through
the streets with their children in their arms looking for non-existing shelters
when the alarms go off.  I hope that NATO pilots don’t leave behind the wives
and children whom I saw crying on CNN as their husbands were taking off for
military targets in Serbia.   I hope we all survive, but that the world as it is
does not.  I hope we manage to break it down: call it democracy, call it
dictatorship.  When a USA congressman estimates 20,000 civilian deaths as a low
price for the peace in Kosovo, or President Clinton says he wants a Europe safe
for American schoolgirls, or Serbian president Milutinovic says that we will
fight to the very last drop of our blood, I always have a feeling they are
talking about my blood, not theirs.

And they all become not only my enemies, but beasts, werewolves, switching from
economic policy and democratic human rights to amounts of blood necessary for it
( as fuel).

Today is the second aftermath day.  I went to the green and black markets in my
neighborhood.  They have livened up again, adapted to new conditions, new
necessities: no bread from the state, but a lot of grain on the market, no
information from the official TV, but small talk among frightened population of
who is winning.  Teenagers are betting on the corners: whose planes have been
shot down, ours or theirs, who lies best, who hides the best victims, who
exposes the best victories, or again victims.  As if it were a football game of
equals.

The city is silent and paralyzed, but still working, rubbish is taken away, we
have water, we have electricity...  But where are the people?  In houses, in
beds, in shelters...  I hear several personal stories of nervous breakdowns
among my friends, male and female.  Those who were in a nervous breakdown for th
e past year, since the war in Kosovo started, who were very few, now feel
better: real danger is less frightening than fantasies of danger.  I couldn’t
cope with the invisible war as I can cope with concrete needs: bread, water,
medicine...  And also, very important: I can see an end.  Finally we in Belgrade
got what all rest of Yugoslavia has had: war on our territory.  I receive 10-20
emails per day from friends or people whom I only met once: they think of us, me
and my family and want to give me moral support.  I feel like giving them moral
support, I need only material support at this moment, my moral is made out of my
needs.

People are gathering at homes, to wait for the bombs together: people who hardly
know each other, who pretended not to know or who truly didn’t know what was
going on in Kosovo or that NATO was serious all along.  We sit together and
share things we have.  Solidarity and tenderness brings the best out of Serbian
people.  There it is: I knew I liked something about my people...

My German friend phones me, she says, I didn’t leave the country, I didn’t take
out my children, even my newborn grandchildren.  I am fed up with everything, I
want to lead my personal life.  My feminist friend asks me to have a workshop
with our group of consciousness raising, my other friend wants us to go to
Pancevo, the bombed city at outskirts of Belgrade, to give a reading of my
novel.  But there is no petrol, we must buy bicycles.

We phone each other all the time, seeking and giving information: I realized
children are best at it, they prefer to be active rather than passive in
emergency situations.  We grownups harass them with our fears and they are too
young to lie or construct as grownups do: they deal with facts and news.  Mostly
we are well informed, with children networks, some foreign satellite programs
and local TV stations.

I think of the Albanians in Kosovo, of my friends and their fears, I think they
must be worse off than us; fear springs up at that thought, it means that it is
not the end yet.

I have no dreams, I sleep heavily afraid to wake up, but happy that there is no
true tragedy yet, we are all still alive, looking every second at each other for
proof.

And yes, the weather, it is beautiful, we all enjoy and fear it: the better the
weather, the heavier the bombings, but the better the weather, probably more
precise bombings.  I wish I only knew do we need good or bad weather to stay
alive?

And finally, I saw Benigni’s film “La vita e’ bella,” the night before the first
bombs fell.  The next day, it started happening to us too.  Maybe I shouldn’t
have seen it, but now it is too late: and I realize in every war game led by Big
Men the safest place is that of a victim.

PS.  At this moment the alarm is interrupting my writing...the alarm is my
censor and my timing.  I switch on CNN to see why the alarm is in Belgrade, they
say they do not know.  Local TV will say it after it all is over.


March 28, 1999

Belgrade is still rocking, shaking, trembling: we are entering the second phase
of NATO intervention.  The alarm is on for hours, nearly 24, I need go out, to
buy some food: we are not really hungry, we are not really falling on our backs,
people who have been through a second or third phase of NATO intervention say it
can get much worse.  At this point people off and on the streets take pills to
stay calm, or just cry to stay calm.  The shelters are crowded, lively and sad.
Children behave like soldiers, notoriously bad mannered Serbian children
compared to, let’s say, English or Italian.  Young adolescent people are the
most frightened and Gypsies, the Gypsies with babies on their fronts and on
their backs cry, they will kill us, they will destroy us.  I think they have
been attacked anyway for the past few centuries, whilst adolescent people
protest: we want our normal lives, we cannot waste our lives in shelters, first
loves, first excitements.  We, the others, behave as if we have time, time to
stay frozen in a shelter for weeks and resume what is left of our life
afterwards: just end it, immediately, never mind how, all the rest are details.

Every evening I go with my friends and family to the big underground station in
the neighborhood: a shelter, I know people there already, of all ages and social
types.  They come with stools, and small talk.  We think of making an emergency
plan.  In all cases, we try to list the many possible developments of the
situation, hardly any can be good for us, common people who cannot believe
anybody anymore, who have nothing but a few dollars in our bags and a lot of bad
experience.  At least we are not pathetic, I say and our children will not be
spoiled.  More and more we seem to me as some Indians, stubborn, ridiculous and
honest in some absurd way: doomed to nothingness, to physical survival and a
true null.  I even say, my daughter will be a rarity, a true Serbian raw beauty,
ready to die for nothing: won’t some cultures love that?  It will be so exciting
for those who are afraid of lightening and thunder to see a thin teenager in
jeans not afraid of bombs.

We watch news all the time, all news all the time, no good news, no precise
news, but we do get some information, through the women and children’s network.

I watch Jamie Shea from the NATO press conference.  He is terribly precise, you
hear him you hear it all, our reality seems only a slight deviance from his
course.  But of course, it isn’t that simple, if it was, he would be God and it
would really be terrible to have a military God after a religious God.

I fight for my computer every day, every hour, everybody in my family wants my
computer, the only one at home, for playing, for studying, for communicating.  I

always hated computers but I use it for writing and for sending my ideas off to
the world.  I fight between the urge to write and not to write, writing in war
is not like writing in peace, though for me writing was always a matter of
biological urge to avoid the pain.

We heard from our friends from Kosovo, they don’t want to speak on the phone,
they are living already what will probably come to us in a few days: killings
and looting of flats, houses, complete anarchy.  For the time being we are
underground, I heard somebody say that 8 million Serbs are underground.  I just
visit underground because I think it is part of the local propaganda to keep
people underground, not to worry about their moves and more than elementary
needs.  When the sirens come on I deliberately go out on the street, says a
friend of mine.  The situation is the opposite of demonstrations in ‘97 when
everybody was outside.  Maybe we should set up an underground state with its new
democratic laws: maybe a state run by women and children, according to their
needs and morals.

The people in the underground station are sitting in the trains, for days.  The
first day they were frightened, restless, waiting anywhere around the huge
place, on the sidewalks, benches, mobile staircase.  Now they are sitting with
barely enough space for their feet, hardly getting out to breathe other than the
stale air of a train to nowhere.  My friends are inside, a family of dour
refugees from Krajina, two grownup sons.  They say they spent five years in
worse conditions, these are really good conditions.  It looks to me like a
trans-Siberian journey to nowhere, but I visit them regularly, bringing them
food and blankets.  They wonder why I go out.  I say, yes, I am afraid, but I am
even more afraid to stay for the next twenty years obediently underground,
whatever happens outside.  Not much does really happen, most of things happen in
our insides, in our undergrounds.

I see a rich, snobbish woman with her baby son in a dirty train compartment.  I
wanted to say hello to her and then I stopped.  I didn’t understand or approve
her being here: she could be anywhere, the fact that she is here is a sign of
political craziness I disapprove of.


March 29, 1999

It is gloomy, it is raining, the alarm is on all the time.  I’ve just heard that
martial law with execution as punishment has been established.  I still cannot
believe we are living in war, we are living in a nobody’s war but no less true
and cruel and in tradition with what war is all about, false heroism and false
excitement.  Today I haven’t been out.  I heard some friends of mine haven’t
been out at all, all these days.  As I said, the act of going out has become an
act of courage.  In few hours my life has changed completely, everybody’s has,
but still I think we are becoming at this point different people, in different
situations, in different alliances.  I gather my strength to be strong and bear
the change.  Children are changing, surrounded by fear, anxiety and four walls:
we have to be creative even in these circumstances, like in Benigni’s film “La
vita e’ bella”.  As usual art comes as an advise, as a cure, and only after you
get sick, never as a prevention.


March 30, 1999

Today no bombs.  I slept 16 hours, no alarm to wake me up.  The children went to
a rock concert, a terrible rock concert with folk singers mixed with good
groups, for children from the underground: a terrible audience too, a mix of
nationalists and modern people.  I hear they destroyed McDonald's; the café in
my neighborhood is called no more New York but Baghdad Café.  The fliers that
people carry show a heavy vulgar sense of humor, not very witty and anarchic,
right to the point as they usually are.  A BBC journalist said, Serbian people
are big-hearted, they wouldn’t have killed the pilot of the fallen plane, they
would have given him home-made bread and brandy as they claim.  But how come
then NATO generals claim that Serbians are committing atrocities against
Albanian civilians: I believe them both.  I wouldn’t offer bread to the pilot
nor kill anybody not even in self-defense, only when defending a child.
Somebody taught me that, maybe wrongly, but that reflex I carry as compulsive.

My God, we are in war, I just heard some rules about war, no contacts with
foreign press, court martial for war deserters.  People from mental hospitals
are in the street, the hospitals are being used for the wounded.  My women
friends are all gathered in various humanitarian centers working with critical
situations, refugees, Gypsies, old and frightened women who live alone.  My best
friend says, only when helping those who are in a worse situation than I can I
stop my breakdown.  She is helping Albanian women get out of Pristina.  I am
different, I get these strong emotions and visions which only by writing I can
get out of my body.  Without even understanding what I am saying, the words run
ahead of me, they make sense to me only after they manage, if they manage, to
penetrate my body again.  I write so clearly everybody says, but I am so stupid,
I know it, my writing is only an honest admission of my stupidity.

My father used to dream of bombings long after the war was over, wake up during
the night and take me out of my bed and carry me out to the basement:
sleepwalking.  I remember him doing it, I did it myself last night, to my
daughter, a few times.  I feel as if a sickness is getting out of my body, a
long historical fever, a buried anxiety which I inherited being born a Serb of a
Serbian father from Herzegovina: other buried fears are that of hunger, and of
unwanted children.  But the blessings are sharp survival techniques and a lot of
sharp and good-humored language: never give up, the moment you become stubborn,
not malleable or soft, or vital, you are done for.

We had a flood in the building, maybe because of bombings maybe somebody was
absent-minded, maybe it is all my fault.  I feel guilty anyway, and responsible,
more than ever, but impotent.

I feel sick somehow: emotionally and physically, I feel like sleeping and
sleeping forever, until the peace comes back.

Today Primakov is in Belgrade, the Russian foreign minister.  I dare not share
any hope with my need for hope.  I stand immobile at a certain reality point
trying to establish it every day anew, to fix it, nail it and act upon it.


March 31st, 1999

Fear has entered in my mind: I don’t know if I dare think what I do, I cannot
cope with reality: is it possible that we are all sacrificed for somebody’s lack
of political judgement, or worse, madness.  I am censoring my thoughts afraid to
think in personal tones, afraid to be heard, judged and executed.  The conflict
is escalating, the atrocities are daily happenings.  I think of buying some
pills for calming down, sleeping and sleeping, maybe forever , if it comes to
atrocities.  And I think of it rationally, not with pain, not with pathos.  I am
a well-organized person, especially in critical situations.  I hate the fear in
the movements and the eyes of people around me, I avoid them and spend time with
children, they cannot have that kind of fear yet, or is it that they didn’t lose
it yet, after surviving birth?

My head and language are getting stiff, they have to incorporate all these
controversial meanings; I despise getting along in war, no space for feminine
language, no free space.  The fear is male-gendered, I can tell that, and our
male persona suffers from it, even if we are women, acting as such.

Women from women’s groups and NGOs are rescuing Albanian women with families
from Pristina in flames and terror: risking their lives, as usual, as in the
previous wars.  Yes, the new feeling I have this morning is that it will end, it
must and it will, with or without us, the so-called details...


April 1st, 1999

We spent last night in a shelter, three grown ups, five children and two dogs.
Actually it is a private house with a good cellar next to a very decent deep
underground station where I spent the first night Belgrade was bombed, mostly
inhabited by gypsies and mothers with small children.  Our group was a large
family, a psychological family, we make a group on a psychological not a
biological basis.  Our group was based I think on fear of being hit by a NATO
bomb or some local warrior.  Yesterday a band of very primitive vandals was
roaring through the city destroying windows and screaming at whomever they felt
was different.  But then police with shields scattered them: finally the police
were doing what I expect them to do.  In 1997, during the demonstrations those
shielded policemen were on the other side from where I stood.  I realized I have
no weapons in case somebody attacks me, the only thing I could take was a bottle
opener and I did, wondering, would I be able to stick it into somebody’s flesh
if I was attacked.  If my child was attacked I could do anything, so I thought,
maybe it is better not to take it with me.

We heard that downtown Belgrade was supposed to be bombed last night: it wasn’t,
so again we have to wait.  My neighbors, refugees from Knin, said: I wish it was
us tonight, so we can sleep tomorrow.  The wife said: if something happens to my
sons, I will kill him, it was him, my man who never wanted to go abroad, he
wants to be a Serb among Serbs.  And here we are, for the second time bombed to
death.  I said, it is not the same, she said: for me it is.  I realized, for her
it was, her script of history contained no other pattern than extermination.  It
is not paranoia, it is not lack of information.  It is her life, who can deny
her life in the name of Truth.

Last night we were expecting bombs in Belgrade downtown, CNN said so.  Instead,
three American soldiers were captured by the Yugoslav army, again, CNN says so.
It is a dirty dirty war, I say, frightened people in basements, bruised soldiers
on TV without names, Albanian refugees crying on TV, all the time saying all
those things people should never have to say, especially not in TV.  Human
dignity is here at stake, in all of us, acters and onlookers.

My friend, a Yugoslav who lives new York, half Albanian, half Serbian, phones
me: she says, I am living your European time here, I wish I was there with you.
But we here are living the American time, awake during the nights, dozing during
the day: I guess we are living both times all the time.  Tonight if the sirens
go on, we may or may not go to the shelter: it has become as a Russian roulette
choice, a matter of luck.  Phase three says, targets in Belgrade downtown, who
knows when, so we people in Belgrade can feel the same way as the refugees in
Kosovo.  But people in Belgrade  know nothing about the refugees, only we few
who already feel bad and guilty about refugees and Albanians and the war and the
world as it is.

Today the sirens gave us more time: I washed my hair, I felt like an Albanian
refugee in a safe haven, so NATO’s message has reached me.  Another thing: every
evening, at dusk , my hands start to tremble without control.  It goes on for a
few hours.  I heard that some other women have the same symptoms of fear of air
raids after dusk.  Men behave differently, they raise their voices and have more
opinions than usual on matters of life and death.  We are afraid of their death
more than of our death, which we do not think of.  Only in certain moments,
images of violence against my children strike me hard: I nearly faint of pain.
I think I prefer suicide to this.  Yes, I am ready for suicide now, in case...
in certain cases...  But I guess suicide is a luxury in certain cases, one needs
to plan that luxury.  I do.

They ask me for an analytical comment for the Guardian: I cannot do that in this
moment, who can, probably nobody.  I think I cannot do it anyway because I don't
believe in my ability to think ahead; if I had had it deep down inside me as I
have some other abilities, like to sing or to dance, I wouldn't have been here
now.  My parents are alone in their flat, they hardly hear the alarm, they watch
official TV and every now and then phone me, saying: don't worry it will be OK.
And I feel better, the voice of my father calms me, as when I was a kid, he
gives me security, I don't give that kind of security to my children.  On the
contrary, it is a choice not to: this world is not a safe place.

I heard that the French, German, American German cultural centers, in the center
of Belgrade are completely demolished, I don't want to see the debris, nobody is
collecting it, it is a new war sculpture, a public corpse, a warning, a reality
we are invited to live with every moment.

Some of the graffiti's and badges: The bridge has fallen, long live the bridge,
Adolph Goebbels Clinton, Clinton, Serbia is not your Monica, NATO troops kiss my
ass, I want to go to school, Only your brain is invisible, Who sings has no bad
thoughts, Clinton learn how to sing, NATO in mud, New American Terrorist
Organization, We are simply the best.

Some Yugoslav pilots are honored publicly on TV by our President; tomorrow we
see in the papers on the obituary page that they are dead.

We have to speak up, to speak out.  If we stay silent, if we get frightened --
and it is normal to be frightened and silent -- we have no future, we will lose
our future as well as our country or voice.  So become writers, become singers
everybody, people from the streets, underground, in the refugee convoys, in the
queues...in armies, in all those ridiculous places where you feel safe when the
alarm goes on...

When the little girl jumps in the flat above me, my stomach turns up and down:
how ridiculous, as if the bombs were so tender as to tickle my stomach from
inside.  Glass explodes, furniture overturns, people think of volcanoes,
earthquakes and other natural catastrophes, incredulous that men can do to each
other such mean things.


April 2d, 1999

Today is Catholic holy Friday, people are getting mystical about it, because of
the bombs.  They see good and bad signs everywhere, in the pattern of days,
clouds preventing air strikes, the celestial signs of a destiny.  Another blow
to the common sense of a common person.

The son of my friend phoned last night from the battlefield: he could hardly
speak, he said he was somewhere not saying where and that he was OK but that
some of his friends were not so.  The age limit for the volunteers who want to
join the war has been raised to 75 for men.  What about women, no age limit,
often they are even louder in their patriotism.

Arkan the indited war criminal is promising on CNN lawful and merciful procedure
for the three American soldiers: this is freedom of the press.  Children are
getting sick in the shelters, grown ups are emotionally distressed, our
day/night schedule has tightened: we plan by the minute our stay out of home and
as the night falls, we plan where and how to spend the night, sharing
information we had during the day.

Radio B92 is definitely closed, lawfully, a court decision has been made, new
people have come, demanding the old ones to collaborate, it happened in the last
few years to other independent papers.  And still new papers spring up.  My hope
speaks, you cannot stop creativity.  It is pretty much the same everywhere in
the world: even where you have absolute freedom, you cannot guarantee
creativity.  I watch the sea of refugees orchestrated from both sides on the
borders with Yugoslavia, Macedonian, Albania.  It reminds me very much of the
scene I saw in ‘95, when Serbs from Krajina poured into Serbia for days and
days, without resistance, thoughts, or ideas of what and why has happened.  I
had the feeling it was orchestrated, everything except for the pain and actors
themselves, they were natural.


April 3rd, 1999

It is morning, a beautiful sunny morning.  I am crying, I am relaxing.  Last
night the center of Belgrade was bombed with appalling precision, yes the
military targets, but only 20 meters from one of the biggest maternity hospitals
in the Balkans, the one where I was born and years later gave birth.  The
destroyed building was the Ministry of the Interior: some of my friends remember
being interrogated there.  I am relieved and happy with NATO’s precision, it was
even raining.  But I feel visible, exposed to those young responsible pilots who
carry their cargo wondering will they make it to hit the military building
without doing wrong to a new born baby.  They were all in shelters, the babies
and the mothers, and I am crying, relieved, all this matter of life and death
reminds me of a delivery, of my delivery, of being brave and crying at the same
time.  I wonder, which words can describe the relief of staying not only alive
but not crippled or bitter, but physically and emotionally integral.

I heard that in a village near Belgrade, a small village on the Danube in
Vojvodina, peasants are looking for the American pilot.  They are organized in
an all-out war, a partisan guerilla action, ridiculous and most serious, as some
60 years ago or as in a film.  I asked why in that village?  My friend from that
village said: probably they are doing it in all villages, all over Yugoslavia.
And what would you do to the pilot if you found him, I made an inquiry, among
children, among the researchers.  Nothing, of course, they all said.  Some would
give him food and preach about the big Serbian people, mostly the grown ups,
whilst the children would hide and feed him in a cellar.  From whom, I asked.
>From everybody, like a favorite toy.

What a virtual, playful, cruel war.  There can be wars lived from inside or from
outside: as a matter of proper fantasy, or epic history.  Or you can do it both
all the time.  Personally, my war is a horrid war, made of terrible images of
the killings of my dearest and torture and rape ...  Those images haunt me when
the alarm goes off, it is them that made my hair go white, in one night, last
night.  The first time I got white hair was ten years ago, at the border with
Slovenia, when a drunken customs’ officer harassed us because we were Serbs from
the still existing federation called Yugoslavia.  I knew that  was only the
beginning, as I know that this is the end, I hope not only for me but for all of
us.  I feel solidarity with all people in war in every century or country.  We
receive emails from all over the world from such people, people in war or who
have been in war.  But then, who hasn’t, it is only now our turn.  A bad, bad
world.

On BBC, CNN, SKY TV commentators already speak of the war as a chess game
between a very talented human, FRY, and a big humanized but imperfect machine,
NATO, praising the skill of human all the time as well as finding flaws in the
high technology, thanks to the human enemy.  And then the refugees, and then our
heavy nights, but nobody really tries to put that picture together.

I am supposed to go to Budapest with my daughter: I am wondering is it safe, the
roads, and then in Budapest, whom can I turn to, will I be just a Serb or
somebody with a face and a story.  Years ago, in ‘92, as a well-off refugee, I
spilled many tears because of the offences I had to put up with.  It was more
than I could bear, I just ran back home, whatever it would be like.  Probably I
was spoiled but then, frozen bank accounts, a severe if not impossible visa
regime, not even the cheapest jobs available clearly pointed out that we were
even less wanted than refugees from other countries, if wanted at all.  All the
lack of love I suffered in the past came back to me as a wave of unbearable
pain, I wished I wasn’t born.  Now, that kind of exile I cannot stand anymore,
that life is too degrading for my child.  I prefer hunger and danger, it keeps
you vital, it doesn’t destroy the human side to war.


April 4th, 1999

Again one night in shelter.  Another two bridges have been struck down towards
Hungary and the railroad towards Montenegro is destroyed in the Bosnian
territory by SFOR troops.  Facts that make me claustrophobic: the wire is
finally visible around our zoo in the cage.  Wild bad Serbs from 13th century,
some disguised in jeans, most speaking THE language ( English), but still
different, aliens.  This NATO strategy is completely in line with local
nationalists, who said when the maternity hospital suffered the concussions from
nearby bombs our babies didn’t even cry, because they are Serb babies, different
from all other babies in the world.  Well, I am not a baby, but I cried
yesterday like crazy, hearing the song “Tamo daleko”, (There, far away ,there
far away is Serbia).  It is a beautiful sad song from World War One, when
Serbian soldiers went to Greece, to Thessaloniki to fight, and only a few came
back.  My grandfather was one of them.  When he came back, my mother was born,
whilst all of his children were born much before.  When I was a kid he used to
sing me that song, when I grew up I sang that song abroad when asked to sing a
Serbian song.  It is the only Serbian song I know how to sing and make people
cry; yesterday thousands of people sang it on the Square of Republic during the
daily concert.  But I couldn’t sing it anymore, this is not my song anymore,
this is not my Serbia anymore, not the one that my grandfather fought for.  Far,
far away is my Serbia, I am now in my own country in a cage and in exile.

I am supposed to get 40 liters of petrol per month for my car, but I have
nowhere to go, maybe I will exchange it for 40 liters of wine and 40 packages of
cigarettes, which are impossible to buy.  Maybe in this way I will find again in
my own room, in my head, my homeland, my Serbia.

My father dreamed all last night that he was saving me from the bombs, he was
sleepwalking as he used to do when he was young, taking me as a baby in his arms
and rushing to the door.  It went on for years, his war trauma, until it stopped
with this new war.  He passed it on to me, I started dreaming his dream.  Last
night when he took back his dreams and fears from me, I slept heavily.  It is
definitely not the same war, and our dreams are not the same, his dreams are
male, mine are female.  At least that.

Today I am going to visit them, my parents, they are only 15 minutes on foot
from my place, in the center of Belgrade, too, but since the war started, I
haven’t managed to go and see them.  It seems distant and dangerous, as if in
another city, not only another district.  Is that how are we going to live, as
in a labyrinth, divided in districts, as if they were different states, divided
cantons?  A NATO officer looking at the map of Belgrade and pointing where they
are going to strike said, Belgrade is a lovely city, I used to go often to
Belgrade.  Yugoslavs had good lives, skiing in Austria, travelling all around
the world without visas.  We want them that way again if they change.  But I don
’t want to live as Yugoslavs lived once, it was a big lie, a big illusion, and I
am Ibsen’s Nora who lost her world in one second of truth, starting life anew,
as cruel as it must be.

I hear people say, it is not the bombs I am afraid of, but the sirens I cannot
stand anymore.  My neighbor who complained about our loud music now is
complaining about it being foreign, aggressor’s music.  The crack in the time,
back to the future: the fifties?

One second I forgot what happened to us.  The next second a commonplace occurred
to me:  we had a life we didn’t appreciate, we quarreled, complained, made each
other suffer, and now all the veils have fallen, we are united in love and
suffering.  Pain it is, I know, but is it love?


April 5th, 1999

Today I feel like Rubliov.  I don’t want to write, I’ve seen too much pain and
suffering too close, my language will be silence, and blank space.  Whatever I
do or say doesn’t count anyway.  I don’t want to be anybody’s accomplice in
living and writing as if everything was OK.

One day, somebody, maybe I, will make a bell out of the memory of these null
days, like the boy that makes Andrei Rubliov speak up again.  Last night when we
spoke about personal, moral and public war, I thought I was Rubliov’s boy who
would make the bell notwithstanding the war.  But this morning I woke up the
invisible anonymous girl I always was and still am; the magic lasted only until
the first low flight planes thundered over our heads at dawn.

The most terrible thing in a way is that after all, nothing really happens: in
the morning we are alive, we have food, we have electricity, we have even luxury
articles like whiskey...  But in a way, we were there, where it all happened,
once again not us but to somebody else.  As in false executions we survive our
own death every night, our fantasizes of the death of our beloved, with more no
physical evidence than a few more white hairs...

The nationalist/patriotic heat around me makes me bear even worse the planes
above my head and flames in front of my eyes.  I am cut off emotionally from my
own body, afraid of physical pain, least of empty big ideas like clouds.  On the
other hand, I fear that until the bad guys come to your door and take you away,
we will not know who the bad guys are or believe it happened really to our
neighbors.

I entered a pharmacy, the shelves were full, fuller than ever, but you couldn’t
get aspirins or tranquilizers, and everybody was asking for those.  The supplies
were out.

Another detail: sweet shops are full, people are buying sweets like crazy,
emotional distress, lack of love...


April 6th, 1999

Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Belgrade in 1941 by Hitler.  However
the major damage to Belgrade happened at the end of the war from the allies
bombing,  the so called liberation or Britain bombs.  I know everybody today
here will use this parallel to feel better or worse, whatever...  I remember an
old librarian whose fiancée died in the first bombing of Belgrade; he never
married but became a priest.  That story impressed me more than the personal
stories of lost lives, furniture and goods I heard from my close family.

I was sitting on the terrace this morning, the sun was bathing me with great
love, I was dreaming of the sea and the clear sky of which we spoke last night
waiting for air raids on the terrace, while the planes were flying over our
heads.  And the planes came again.  But they didn’t bomb Belgrade last night:
again other places, other victims.  I feel so guilty, more than ever this
morning for this Other.  My friends and enemies from all over the world ask me,
do you realize how terrible it is in Kosovo?  I do, I really do, and I feel
guilty that we feel bad here without having the horror they do.  But our war,
for the past 10-50 years has always been this kind of invisible horror, we have
still a long way to run to the catharsis, to be free from our bad conscience,
wrong myths, inertia...

I feel we are being cut away from the rest of the world, more bridges down, more
friends and enemies pointing out to us here how bad we are, more crazy people
here making careers on screaming how we are heavenly people.  And the people?
They are in cellars or just in beds waiting for nothing.

I dreamed last night of bombs falling in my cellar, in my bed and afterwards
feeling relieved and free.  I should stop writing, I hate my dreams, thoughts
and words.  But it is a vice.


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