I’M AFRAID OF THE WORLD

 ‘What is your youth doing while you’re sleeping? – It’s awake, lurking. And when it loses patience, it wakes you up.’

On Mar 28 1999, shortly after the bombing of Yugoslavia started, the world had its mouth full of us because ‘the Serbs did the impossible and shot down an F-117 Nighthawk, deadly not only because of its extreme maneuverability but also its ability to be invisible to radar. It was the only time such a plane had ever been destroyed’ (source: War History Online) and was the pride of American aviation. On the same day, a rock concert was held at noon in downtown Belgrade although the siren indicating the cessation of danger hadn’t gone off. 30,000 people gathered to express their disapproval of the war and show they were choosing life over death, many with a transparent in their hands: No Ryan will be saved. Sorry, we didn’t know it was invisible. Clinton, do you happen to have an F-118? We are no Indians. NATO made a mess, will you please kiss my ass? Columbus, you curious mother fucker. Only your brains are invisible. I’m not Monica, America is. Hillary, don’t be Eva Braun. I swap the F-117 for a pack of cigarettes. Monica was good, but Tony (Blair) is better. The U.S.A.: The United Serb Association. Clinton, you should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque. Mission Impossible. Dream Team: YU Air Forces. If only we had known about the rubber (Bill’s parents). I’m not a mushroom to grow in the basement. Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing…

In a couple of days, the world will start protesting against the US-NATO bombing campaign, with tens of thousands of people in the streets of Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and India. There are over 15,000 protesters in Vienna, 20,000 in Rome, Genoa, Turin and Milan, we hear of incidents in Athens and Skopje, Macedonia…Most Britons, according to a survey of public opinion, accuse Tony Blaire of hypocrisy and attack on sovereignty. The Italian Parliament, with a majority of 380 votes, makes a plea for the cessation of air strikes. It means so much to know we’re not alone.

The siren went off again during the night. My sister and I jumped out of our beds and ran into our parents’ room, mom screaming frantically: ‘C’mon, the siren, the siren!’ She put on her pants hurriedly but took them off in a few after we’d decided not to go to the shelter. I wasn’t able to return to sleep, wishing it was my youth that kept waking me up. Later that day, sis and I went out to do some grocery shopping but to our surprise (or not) there was no more canned food on the shelves, nor candles for that matter, so we went back home with a bottle of yogurt, which was the only thing we found. We’re doing our best to make ourselves busy but somehow always end up wandering aimlessly around the house. Mom opens a window wide, letting the pleasant smell of spring walk in and spread unpretentiously across the living room. I catch sight of the bright yellow cornelian cherry flowers bent over the edge of the TV screen. The TV’s out after the transmitter was hit. We heard on the radio that a couple of NATO planes were shot down, an American pilot caught, another one on the run.

We have only three TV channels, always playing the same WWII movies, with our guys outsmarting the Germans. Dad comes from work. He’ll be home the following four days. A new (war) work schedule. He says the roads are congested, people leaving the cities and fleeing to villages. Phone lines are dead. We can’t get through to granny, aunt and uncle who live in a near-by town and when we do, once in a blue moon, we’re either breaking up or getting cut off. They are doing the same, sitting and waiting. Mom is bringing us food again although we don’t feel like eating. She tries to sound composed. The two of us try not to show we’re scared. We try to lead a life behind bars imposed on us. I can hear my own fear mocking me.

On the first day of April, a bridge in Novi Sad, the capital of Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina, was destroyed by NATO projectiles. Citizens of Belgrade, fearing the same destiny, made a live bridge, holding hands and pictures of targets on a bridge across the Danube, along with its architect. It’s been two days since we slept at home, mostly snoozing in the hall as there are no windows here. I was roused by the rumbling of the planes after midnight. Oddly, I didn’t feel anything. No pounding heart. No restless legs. Nothing but sheer indifference. Fear doesn’t dwell here anymore. I don’t want to be afraid. I fell asleep like a baby, who, after having a bellyful, felt there was not one reason to cry. I wake up to the news that downtown Belgrade was struck, cruising missiles hitting the Yugoslav Ministry of Defense building next to the obstetrics and gynecology clinics and psychiatric hospital.

brige, target.PNG

In the meantime, another family with two small children joined our one-room shelter without a toilet, which makes a total of 24 of us, packed in like sardines. Everyone’s tense, listening to the radio and waiting for new lies and misinformation. I can’t stand these people any more. I look through them as I look through this moment, uttering a few lazy words only when asked, politely and reluctantly. I mainly just nod or shake my head, avoiding excessive wh-questions.  I prefer looking around, staring at the crumbly walls or soft ceiling that might fall down any second. I’m watching our lives crack and break down like poor quality plaster, friable between our fingers. I can’t breathe. I can’t….I have to go out to catch some fresh air. There are no street lights and stars in the night look like airplanes, the moon snarling at me. Detonations are coming from all possible directions, the evening sky turning purple every time it hits. I’m losing the ground beneath my feet. I’m so tired. Tired of sleeping during the day and staying up late at night, tired of running nervously down my street with eyes high above, I’m tired of putting the pillow over my head to block the sound of the planes, I’m tired of waking up to the familiar noise of explosions, crawling in bed with my clothes on, and being angry all the time, I’m sick and tired of eating in haste, I hate swallowing before chewing, gulping my food down in one bite, and stuffing my face with it like a squirrel, not knowing when I’ll eat again. I hate this life.

The following days saw lots of civilians dead: 11 killed after a village in Kosovo was hit by three missiles, 3 workers killed in the oil refinery in a city near Belgrade, which ignited 80,000 tons (88,185 metric tons) of oil into flames, the concentration of carcinogens over the city rising 10,500 times higher than local laws allowed. 1 person killed after airstrikes hit power plants in Belgrade. The outskirts of the city where my granny, uncle and aunt live, 25m (40km) away, hit with 11 bombs in broad daylight, killing 2 civilians and injuring 15. Last night, I heard our ground based anti-air systems, missiles and guns, trying to shoot down the incoming cruise missiles. I didn’t feel my smell, I didn’t hear my voice. I didn’t see my thoughts. I don’t want to see. 12 civilians killed in a southern mining town, 35 houses and 125 apartments destroyed, with no military target in the vicinity according to a Serbian newspaper. I want to remember better days, carefree and distant. I don’t want to be a part of the world dreaming of death. I need to wake up to a new day and a new night.

‘You’ve admired their efficiency, their comfort, their values, their hygiene, their might and their will. You hate the geography mistake that didn’t allow you to be a part of another world that isn’t chronically in love with conflicts and misery.’ Now you despise the very world you thought so highly of. You loathe it and are afraid of it. You prefer your world, however flawed. A world which seems incapable of peace.

Author: Blogging_with_Bojana

I'm diggin' Need to grow, have to push Flicking through vinyl and feeding the rush I dig for that one and I open the haunt It's takin' all day from the back to the front I'm diggin' and diggin' You know Sorry baby I'm gone diggin' www.bloggingwithbojana.com

104 thoughts on “I’M AFRAID OF THE WORLD”

  1. Humanity and its irrational actions. Still, we hope to make it better against all odds. How effectively you said it in these few lines “Now you despise the very world you thought so highly of. You loathe it and are afraid of it. You prefer your world, however flawed. A world which seems incapable of peace.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was just talking to a friend about a song ‘Insieme’ (Together), performed by a famous Italian singer, which was the winning song of the popular Eurovision Song Contest, which btw sucks, but that’s a different story. The point is, it speaks of the need for unity and bringing European nations together at a time when we believed in the EU and its values. Almost 30 years later, few people do, and the feeling of desperation and hopelessness is felt worldwide. I just wonder if we have always been disillusioned and grew up in the meantime, realizing how naïve we were, or the world was different back then.
      I think it was always cruel, but when you get to know its ‘manners’ first hand, you know better though you learned it the hard way.

      Thanks, my friend. It means a lot.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I wonder if we choose to come together only during times of adversity and fail to create a foundation where such values can thrive and evolve. Why does all that have to disintegrate so fast. Now, it takes a decade to transform a conducive environment to something troublesome. Let there be true unity, based on human values and not only of convenience. I feel humans have been naiive in understanding the purpose of life and been distracted with the changes that were imposed on us. The idea of being pushes to accept such changes increases the possibility of dissent and strife; that too often.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Imposed changes, I like that. I believe that too. Nobody asks us anything. Politicians always know what’s best for us, right?
        It’s normal we should come together when going through a rough patch, like natural disasters, wars and so on. If you’re asking me if ‘sustainable growth’ for our confused little planet is possible in the long run, I’m pessimistic, but then I cannot not fight and give up altogether. I just think we need new ‘environmentalists’ as well as action, that is setting up realistically achievable goals if we want to thrive. Peace and economic growth are possible only if we prevent intolerable ‘pollution’ that’s spreading like the plague.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Sustainable thoughts will come from right choice, freedom to think, and dispel the doubts we have of being together for a sustainable cause. It is for our future and that of the planet. We need leaders who are foreshighted and give peace a lasting chance, without polluting it with divisive and aggressively consumerist ideologies. Human capital needs to invest in trust and believe in the evolution of humanity.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I am fully sharing your thoughts, Bojana! Another re-unification of european states seems coming to an end. I fear there is a group which reigns centuries in the past. Religion gave them the possibilities, and their followers wont loose their influence. Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This!!! This is why I replied the way I did earlier, Lil’ Sister. You amaze, delight, and put my rebellious heart at ease with your unvarnished truth.

    I must say, this line had me spitting my coffee, “Columbus, you curious mother fucker. “ I think we are from the same star ⭐️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You continue to amaze me with your uncanny ability to bring out the tragedy, barbarism and senseless violence of war. Your words tear through me, your images are burned into my brain. Your tragedy is now mine.
    Truly well done, of course I’m not surprised at all

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had an uncanny feeling that I was being watched. So, it was you. I should have known.
      Why thank you, tragedy is more bearable when shared, don’t you agree, dear?
      (I haven’t seen you on my pages lately, which means you have some catching up to do, so knock yourself out.
      How are you doing? Tell me you’re better.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m always watching you even when you don’t see me. I love your work.
        I do have some catching up to do but I’m working on it. I promise I will.
        I’m doing ok. Ok is good enough for now

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “I can hear my own fear mocking me.”
    Does it get any more pointed than that?

    I seem to repeat myself after every new post about this part of your life. It is another fall of the lash against my bared soul. I will never unfeel what you have made me feel. And I never want to. I am forever bonded to your words and they to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember! How we cheered and laughed about the F-117!

    ‘You hate the geography mistake that didn’t allow you to be a part of another world that isn’t chronically in love with conflicts and misery.’: Yes. That too.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. “stars in the night look like airplanes”

    They never go back to being just stars, do they?

    Horrible, horrible times. But you’ve gone through.

    I remembered two things: How NATO pleaded after losing the stealth: “We do deserts, we don’t do mountains.” And how Balašević said in Maribor as he was performing on the raft on the Drava river: “Don’t let NATO see your bridges.”

    No Ryan will be saved is the favourite.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was a little bit older than you when all of this was happening to you, and I was safe here in Canada, watching from a distance. As I read this, beautiful and profound as it is, I think of the two of us, so similar in experience in one of your earlier posts where you talked about the joys of being a carefree teenager before the war started, and I think about the divergence of paths and the different things that make us strong. I love your writing:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my dear (hope you had a nice birthday). You can influence some things, the others, like wars, I’m afraid, you can’t change. You just have to wait for them to pass and if you survive, either pick up where you left off or lament and/or go crazy.
      Some things happen when you least expect them, like Toronto a few years after the bombing. Our paths diverge and converge for a reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Between your brilliant ways of describing things and the facts of how much humanity has been lost, it is chilling. The world is rapidly becoming scarier by the minutes and it is really sad. I guess it is because I am not in politics and do not understand the way those in control think, but I just can’t even begin to understand why everyone can’t just get along. We are all human beings with a beating heart, so if we could all join together life would be much better. If we could all join together when horrible nature disasters occur, there would be far less damage and deaths. Your words are always so powerful and heartfelt and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It was Hillary’s idea to send
    troops into Libya to kill
    Colonel Gaddafi, creating
    yet another middle eastern
    basket case. Democrat or
    Republican, absolute power
    with the button of destruction,
    corrupts absolutely. I believe
    Tony Blair was a harmless
    idealist, till George W. got his
    hooks of mass destruction
    into him. Now, as a reward,
    he sits on the board of Kill
    Foreign Children.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lately, whenever possible, I’ve been trying to read editorial pieces written in defense of the imbecilic ego-in-charge and his autocratic, xenophobic agenda to try to understand how to answer the question, someday, about how we could have allowed this chapter in history to be written. But it is ever the same. The agenda outweighs the humanity. It is so easy to wage war, or close borders to refugees, when you dehumanize the populace. It is easier to wipe out everyone when you can assign the sins of a few people to the character of all people. “Yes, he’s a buffoon,” they seem to say in defense of his pseudo-leadership, “But he’s stopping marauding gangs from pouring over the border.”

    “They are inhuman. They aren’t people.” Huddled in that crumbling shelter, surrounded by strangers, with bombs falling all around, you weren’t considered, by your attackers, to be human. But you were, you are. Humans were marching in the streets, demanding an end to war. The inhuman ones were dropping the bombs.

    The good news, if we can ever find a way to truly tap into it, is that humans outweigh inhumans on the planet by a large margin. Whether in Serbia or Germany or Australia or Canada or England or America we, the people of the planet, are finding each other and finding ways to show one another that we are (a) not alone, and (b) vocal.

    Your stories, and the responses, are a reminder to me that I am not alone as a human on this planet and furthermore that inhumanity and egotism is nothing new. The dogs of war, the inhuman ones, have always been here, and almost always been in power.

    Perhaps the day will come, perhaps in our lifetimes, when the human ones will be in power. When the notion that all people, everywhere, have rights and needs and lives worth living. Perhaps we will cast aside despotism, ethnocentrism, and greed. Maybe.

    Thank you for another fine installment, my fellow human. Glad you made it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When men ‘groaning for burial,’ as Shakespeare put it nicely, die out, maybe we’ll stand a chance as a planet.

      Let us hope that oncoming generations will be smarter, more perceptive, and moral, will have a vision and a cause, will respect other people based on their emotions, accomplishments and knowledge instead of religion, ethnicity, material status and nationality. Maybe they’ll be able to finally prevent the bloodshed by stopping feeding the dogs of war. We obviously can’t.

      Thanks, my friend. I appreciate every word you say immensely and I’m thankful for having you and people like you by my side.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You are “the bridge” now, you and the others who remember. Between people, and nations, and generations. You transport truth and caring, people and emotions. Your gift (of narrative) gives you a platform for your voice, which is vetted by pain. Your voice shares the pain with us, that we may grow in humanity. (Once again, don’t print this comment if you are not comfortable with it, I don’t want to be part of more pain).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry, James. I’m a tough cookie, and I respect other people’s opinions. Just because we have differences doesn’t mean we can’t have a productive discussion (we’ll leave that for politicians. Politics understands only the language of the force) .
      Your comments are more than welcome and thank you for being here.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Bojana, I read this when you first posted it but, forgive me, I had no clue what to say in response. I still don’t. When I was a kid, we were pissed off because our parents bought Intelevision rather than Atari. I mean, our realities could not be more different. Know that I am moved, and my heart is touched deeply by your story. Thank you for sharing it. To read the thoughts and feelings of someone who lived and survived it profoundly affects me and makes me appreciate not only my own life, but all the wounded out there like you. Breaks my heart that there are so many who didn’t make it through. I am so thankful you did. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my dear. You don’t have to apologize. Many are either shocked or moved or speechless. That’s a most normal reaction.
      We have do much to be thankful for, right? We’re sometimes not even aware how much, given misery, poverty, wars etc. people face daily worldwide.
      Thank you for being here. I’m touched that you’re touched.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You grew up in a horrible time in your Country. Like in your Country, we hear things but only what the government allows put onto the airwaves. Here in the U.S. the Bosnian war of the 1990’s was and is portrayed as a successful ‘mission’, I doubt that the families of the dead would agree. I am going to reblog this article for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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