This is how the Vukovarksa, the street leading to Vukovar looks in the evening of the remembrance day. Last week we remembered here 25 years of the attack of Vukovar, a town 20 km. from Osijek. The heart of the Yugoslavian war.
“People became like beasts” is what a man from the street told me. I got to know an owner of a dog who was astray and found a new home in our house. But when I walked with the dog, on the streets a couple of days later… (still thinking how to solve this problem,) I met this man. And he calmly said: That is my dog. He was luckily not cross or upset. And I was happy to find the owner.
While we walked back to his house, he told me lots of stories about the war. He married a Bosnian woman, who is moslim. He is a Katholic Croat and he had also Orthodox Serbs in his family…. The way he talked calmly about the war, was the opposite of the topic he talked about. He talked full of peace and calmness. He talked about the time he was inprisoned, sure about his coming death. The only question what was left was how or when.
The scars in his neck of the knife what should had brought an end to his life, are still there, resonating the anxiety of what was. He had been a commander, but summoned his people not to kill. A very unusual command. He knew these streets of Donji Grad, (part of town here) He had been born and raised here. He had respect for the Orthodox priest. And no desire at all to destroy his church or kill the priest.
He left me with the feeling that I never will be able to understand the complexity of what has happened in these streets. I faced the whole complicated Yugoslavian war just in one man together. The desire for peace and calmness, the struggle with -the beasts within us, or the people around us-. It showed the enormous complicated situation.
And that is how we still feel about the latest war. It is not a topic to talk about easily. The wounds are too raw and every single person here, has a story how he or she survived this war.
Rahela, a friend posted this on her facebook and it is very sad, powerful, and touching. That is why I wanted to share it as well. –so we would not forget– Among all other hurt and broken places, this is what we remember:
We are now slowly reading and watching more about the late history of this area and we found this what we will have a look at soon: BBC documentary: The death of Yugoslavia.
It gave me to think. What is war acctually? The absence of peace? The absence of giving room to the other to excist? Do I give enough room to -the other- The Other-?
We enter this season of Advent. And I am glad for it. The darker the world around us, the more intense the need is for the One who will rescue us from pain and war and different opinions. The more intense the need is for the Redeemer who came to bring peace in this world. And when we are in a time that it is hard to believe that peace will come, let us not give up hope, but wait in expectation.
I wish you a wonderful time of Advent, full of expection.
Warm greetings, Janneke