Remembering humanity

Peace, strange but beautiful peace. The country is being built, with politics held behind closed doors - apartments, young married couples, highways, factories ... Time to wake up or time to flare up? Progress on every step. The shadows of evil disappeared, the sun blazing on all sides.

The construction of the Ruma - Popinci highway is in progress. Tight deadlines. Ruma interchange, one, at the time the largest, on the entire section from Zagreb to Belgrade, overcrowded with machinery and trucks. Piles of soil, gravel, pipes, curbs have changed yesterday's landscape of the tame Srem plains. I drive, passing through temporary construction passages toward Belgrade. I visit the team of my workers involved in this project. And behold; in that hive of techniques and material, in the dust left behind by heavy trucks, in danger of drivers rushing along the southern lane of the old road to Istanbul, or from Skopje to Berlin, muzzy, tired and sleepy, striving not to lose control of their cruisers, among the piles of construction equipment, I notice a woman. With a travel bag in her hand, a black scarf tucked under her chin, unusually dressed, in a pitch-black suit - lost. She moves, goes back, stops, moves again, watching…

I stopped, got out of the truck. It was used to transport workers and small materials, and I asked:

- Mother, can I help you?

Worried face, sad eyes… as if all the evil of this world had fallen on her, almost numb, she barely uttered:

- I got lost; I don't know where I am, oh my god! ..
- And where do you need to go? - I'll help you, I comforted her.
- To Pećinci. The bus left me, went to Šabac and told me to wait for the other, that that's for the best, that someone will take me… and this is all different from a year ago. I don't recognize anything… what is this, my child?

Without hesitation, I suggested that she get in my car, that I take her to Pećinci. During the ride, I found out that she was from Krajina, that her daughter was a teacher at the Primary School in Pećinci, that she was heading to see her child, to take her some gifts… and now she did not know where she was. Finally, I found the school building. When she saw the school, and I have to admit, it was bigger than ten little regional schools in Kordun, her face lit up, she came to her senses and joyfully began to bless me. Since then, and more than 40 years have passed, no one has addressed to me so many good and sincere wishes.
I greeted her, wished her a pleasant stay with her daughter, and continued on my dusty path.

***

It's war. World War II. The Kordun partisans crossed the Kupa River. They carry the revolution flag in areas settled by Croats, conquering one by one Ustasha stronghold. They are "rewarded" for freedom by the death of their comrades or their own, but that does not prevent them from stopping.

In one of the campaigns, after brutal fights, a boy, not older than 10, stood out among the fighters. Frightened, blue, his jaws shaking, fear turned the child into a living skeleton. He sees the army in torn uniforms, thought smiling, sees the markings on the caps that look nothing like his father wears. Živko, a partisan, a sufferer, a hero and a martyr, approaches him. In late 1941, t he Ustashas killed his whole family. Wife, father, mother and his four children. He took the little Croat by the hand, put him on his knees, comforted him and pulled out a bag of candy from the inside of his torn coat. He had been carrying it for two years, hoping his kids will resurrect, emerge from the fog of war, appear to him, and he will surprise them with candies.

- There, child, sweeten yourself. Do not be scared. The partisans won't do anything to you. We are the people's army.

***

An unjust and false peace is the path to a new war. Most often a bloodier, heavier and unpredictable war from which, again, here, in the Balkans, but more recently in other parts of this bloodied planet Earth promises of prosperity will grow, when "ours" wins. And every war is a crime, every belligerent peace is a disaster. Living in an environment where the morning song of birds is replaced by cannon salvos, single and burst fire of an automatic weapon, living without electricity for three months and be smiling? Is it possible?

The cop, my Kordunaš, single, bachelor, has been in position for months. He guarded Serbian villages on the Kupa River. Fear is defeated by weapons, and wit by nonsense. There is no one at home except the stove and beds. My garden will remain unplanted, he often thinks about that and only about that. A military meal is modest and monotonous… well, what can you do, it's war, he talks to himself. Colleagues in charge of accounting in the company I am leading decided to go to the cop to plant his garden. A few miles from their office to his house is not a problem, there will always be someone to drive them. And the garden would be planted.

The cop came home and couldn't help but be amazed. How come his garden is arranged, sown, groomed and ironed. Inquiring, he found out who did it.

Autumn, rich autumn, the war year of 1992 rewarded all hardworking housewives. Everything was fruitful. The effort was rewarded. If it weren't for the war, one would enjoy the benefits of nature. One morning at the entrance to the administrative building of the company, the cop was waiting for Maca and Živka, he knew that they were the organizers of the planting, those that made him something to be proud of, and something to sweeten himself. After the usual greetings, those that could be heard only in Kordun, he said to them:

- Girls, I came to tell you that everything in the garden has fruits. So come and pick your own. Everything there is yours, it's not mine, you planted, dug, cultivated… take it home.

Humanity and honesty intertwined. His words made them both silent … the war continues. After 1995 gardens are left to weeds and the people are left to exile. Only memories inhibit memories.

In Banja Luka, June 8, 2021. Nikola Kobac

UPUTSTVO ZA UPLATE

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