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english_stories - 115 - 05.10.2004 : Zeljko Tomic Sokolac - best (6)

Slavko Suka

Author: Željko Tomic, Canada
Dedicated to Slavko Suka

Sometimes, just for a moment, you meet somebody who makes an impression on you, which hunts you for the rest of your life. Such case was the time when I met Slavko Šuka. It was during the last war, when I was sent on a hill called the Major's Grave. I shared the same trench with Slavko. He was an intelligent man, whose optimism impressed the other solders. His quick-witted stores, followed by loud laughter of the other men were endless!

In those somber times, only a few people had a radio, but everybody was interested what was happening in the country. That was why we would send Slavko to a nearby trench to listen to the 6 o'clock news. When Slavko would come back from his "assignment", he would start talking, and his talk could last for a couple hours at the time. Slavko talked to us by his loud, distinctive voice, but his sentences had the power of Shakespeare.

When all the news were retold, Slavko would continue retelling the news, knowing we all needed some fun more than the only meal we had that day. Slavko would talk, and talk, and talk... While he was speaking, the dark would fall over the old beech woods. Looking back, his stories were the only spark of light in the midst of endless darkness.

After the war had ended I left the country. A few years ago, while I was visiting my home town, somebody told me Slavko had died. The tiny glimmer of light on the war days disappeared from the face of the Earth at the moment I heard my dear friend Slavko had passed away. Somehow, I felt a part of me died too.

I don't know if Slavko's chiming voice is still making birds near the Major's Grave to stream airborne, but sometimes, when the night is falling over the Rocky Mountains I have a feeling I can hear Slavko's voice.

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