english_stories - 160 - 08.10.2004 : Zeljko Tomic Sokolac - (4)
by Željko Tomic
Dedicated to Zoran Rundic, Vrapci, Bosnia and 10. 000 Serbs killed by Muslims in Sarajevo
I stopped to rest for a while. I was forty years old, so climbing up the steep hill was not an easy task for me any more. The ground was rocky and hard to traverse. I turned around. Behind me was a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains on three sides. A small river winds its way along the valley floor. The river was deep and beautiful, disappearing behind the hills on the other side of the valley.
I took a deep breath and made myself walking again. I didn"t come here to enjoy the countryside, I came to visit my friend"s grave, who was killed ten years ago during the civil war in Bosnia. Zoran, that was his name, had been my playmate from childhood. At that time I thought we would be the best friends forever, but his father got a new job and Zoran moved to Sarajevo, forty kilometers far from our home town Sokolac. It took me several years to realize I was wrong to blame Zoran for braking our friendship.
The gate was open, so I passed through into the graveyard. The graveyard had a small hill at the canter, with an old apple tree on the top. It was a modest, family graveyard with gravestones of different ages, shapes and sizes, surrounded by a barbed wire fence. I walked straight to a white marble cross, the most beautiful in the graveyard.
Then I saw the picture. It seemed to me the picture imprinted into the cold marble was taken the same night ten years ago, when that extraordinarily handsome fellow popped up in my life again. My fiancé, Svjetlana, wanted us to go on a double date with her girlfriend, Aida Muhovic. As soon as I saw his big brown eyes filled with something between love and loss, they reminded me on the young boy who used to stroll with me uncut grass fields and misty woods. The same boy who disappeared from my life 23 years ago!
I sat on a marble bench next to his grave. I touched the cold gravestone, like I was trying to check if Zoran lied there. But the stone was cold. I felt the same frizzing, lifeless coldness that brought into me the war that broke out when I was on the top of my happiness. Zoran decided to stay in Sarajevo. He didn"t want to abandon Aida, his Muslim girlfriend. Zoran had no idea what nationalism and hatred was. Alija Kapo, a Muslim man from the village Stjenice, near Rogatica, targeted Zoran only because he was a Serb. He came by, and beat him up. Zoran couldn"t run away. Muslim army didn"t want Serbs to leave Sarajevo, so the city was sealed from the inside. I wish I knew if Zoran was different when Alija Kapo took him to the city garbage depot and killed him over there. However, I am sure at the moment he died he didn"t hate his fiancé Aida for being a Muslim.
For seven years Zoran was buried by the garbage depot in an unmarked grave. After the Dayton agreement, his remains were found and identified by UN peacekeepers. His family was able to give him a decent funeral. Although his killer"s name is well known, he was never punished.
The graveyard was silent, yet comfortable because the wind that was playing absently with the old apple tree leaves, made me feel Zoran"s soul was surfing around the place. I crossed myself, pronounced the name of God, bent over and kissed the gravestone. Before I walked out of the graveyard, without looking back, I told Zoran I did marry Svjetlana and I got with her a beautiful, redhead daughter Marija, who was seven years old at the time. Unfortunately, I had no courage to tell Zoran that Aida got married to a Muslim man, and gave birth to three kids.
The hill was steep, there was a long walk for me to the point where I came from. Besides, the dark was falling down. Every time dark comes over Bosnia I get a feeling, I will never see the Sun again.
Alija Kapo was never charged for this crime. He lives now in suburb of Sarajevo called Buljakov Potok.
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