21 October 2008

What happens when shit does not stops…

Well, those consequences continue. Now I can feel on myself how hatred and intolerance actually come to existence. That fear I was talking about in previous post slowly gets worse of me. I still get nervous when I go and walk about in the town, or simply go shopping. And now there is new development happening. I’m getting more and more aware of all persons who look like they come from middle east, regardless how they are dressed, and slowly resentment starts to develop. I’m afraid if I do not stop this, hatred will appear as well. Intellectually I know that those persons I meet have nothing to do with the horrors I been trough. However, because of the associations I’m getting all those emotions slowly creep on me.
The Muslims I see and meet now, associate me to the terrors and attacks I went trough during the war; so all the fear, resentment and all bunch of negative feelings start to appear in me. All those ‘war memories and emotions’.
Now I wish to go somewhere where I do not have to experience such emotions. Somewhere where I will not be reminded constantly to the horrors of the war I survived. Somewhere where I will be able to live normal, boring life, the kind in which biggest worry will be what to watch on TV on the raining day. To me the obvious solution is to move from Birmingham.

What a turn around!

Anyway, I had to go to Sarajevo as well during this short visit to my country, and yeah, there is a less extremely religious Muslims there than in Birmingham. I still find that unbelievable. But it is true.

During this my stay in Bosnia I realised how all three sides that were involved in the war, Croats, Muslims and Serbs, are so similar that one can say they are same. People I mean; their personalities, habits and overall life values. And all of them would react equally badly on this statement. Most of them still see the “other ones” as cause of all their current troubles.
This weekend I was with Bree and her good friend at coffee. And I found myself again facing need to explain my view about terminology marking the population of Bosnia.
Basically I feel as someone stole the country from me just because during the war someone did not translate properly the term that Muslim in Bosnia use to mark themselves.
Muslims in Bosnia started to declared themselves during the war as Boshnjaci, a form of the word which in native language is different than the word which marks Bosnian nationality, Bosanci, but people failed to mark that difference during the translation to the English and translated the both word with one which marks people who have Bosnian citizenship, Bosnian. (Yeah, I know its only two letters of the difference, but those letters really, really change the meaning of the word in local language. In fact word Boshnjaci is also a fairly common family name within Croats and Serbs. One can see that name on the gravestones in the Christian cemetery at one of the entrances in Sarajevo. Really. Do look next time when you drive pass by.)

In all regional languages this difference exist. And since this confusion, average foreign person actually means that only Muslims, i.e. Boshnjaci are truly local to the area. That is usually very offensive for all those Croats and Serbs whose families and ancestors live in the Bosnian territory for more than thousand years. It is as their became invisible!
My family is one of those.
Muslims, who are now called Boshnjaci, actually came in that region around 700 years ago. And now suddenly, people who lived there before are declared as intruders in the region. That simply is not fair. Somehow it would me fairer if we’re all called Boshnjaci or Bosnian and not only Muslims. I mean, if that word marks residents of Bosnia, then every one who had Bosnian citizenship even before the war has right to be consider a resident of Bosnia, not only that part of the residents which happened to be members of Islam religion!

What confusion isn’t?

Real cause of the war was economic decline, but people who lived there, suddenly remembered that they can be divided by religion. Two of major religions had additional non-religious names; you see, Croats are Catholic Christians; Serbs are Orthodox Christians, but Muslims did not have a “second name”. They were, genetically, offspring from Croats and Serbs who lived in the area and changed religion and the Turks who conquered the area around 700 years ago.
There is another fascinating fact for that area. If someone decided to change religion they would simply drop out from the nationalistic classification as well, regardless to the genetic connection. That is actually the very, very old rule introduced by Turks in the region. In Ottoman Empire classification of the residents was done by religion not by biological/genetic origin. So it was not mater who parents of the person were, if the person changed the religion, his/her place in society changed. That person started to belong to the other group. Sadly that kind of attitude still exists in Bosnia, especially at the countryside.
In reality all population had genetic connections among them. It was (and is) not rare for someone to have close relatives who belonged to another religion (i.e. nationality).
In general customs were similar, personalities were similar, family relationships and everyday life were also very, very similar. Only from 1988 small differences started to be emphasized.
All that makes the whole situation sadder. Differences were misused as the excuse for the war. But, the true is people from that area more similar than different. Maybe that’s why there are less extremely religious Muslims in Sarajevo than in Birmingham. Almost all Muslims from Sarajevo grow up in socialistic society, the one that was really liberal comparing to the religious societies. During and after war we all were brainwashed with the idea that religion is the right answer and that religion is something what will save us and make possible for us to live normally.
Of course that did not happened. The trouble is that what religion considered normal life was not what average person from that area considered normal.
Nah, average person from that area wished to have a roof above it’s head, family, car, nice comfy job with enough income for comfortable life and once per year holidays on Adriatic coast. And that’s not what religion things the normal life is.
During the war priests of all major religions were promising better life only if one builds temples and pray and regularly visits temples. And people did that. They were bewildered with the war. The war was something terrible and uncontrollable, and no one knows how to end it.
The trouble was, before the war only information average person had about war was the one gathered from the films. The war films. The films full of heroes, strong honest and just men who always did the right thing.
No one mentioned death, illness, hunger, dirt, and cold, despair. No one. You cannot sell that as entertainment.
That’s why people believed priests. One did not know what to do, communist ideals failed. People thought, what if, what if those priests really know what they talk about? Maybe if we listen to them this hell will stop.

There were local elections in Bosnia during my stay. Can you imagine, it is still more important for the running candidates and parties to “find who is guilty” for the trouble Bosnia is in, but to offer the solution for the economical troubles. My brother could not get any information about what which party plans to do when they get power. So he did not vote. Me neither. Either of us is not interested who is guilty for the situation Bosnia is in, but into the some solution that will solve problems and give the people a chance for better life.
Just a chance, just a way out of the troubles. But no, politicians still are more interested to find ”guilty” ones. I sometimes wonder does Bosnia have juristic system at all, because finding and punishing the “guilty” ones seem to be the major ambition of the politicians. I do wonder what is then job of the police and courts? And who actually leads the country if politicians are took over the role of juristic system?

08 September 2008

One of the war consequences…

I moved in the Birmingham. And was surprised to see how many extreme Muslims are living in that city. I did not saw so many totally covered females and so much males dressed in Arab/Muslim way even in Sarajevo where 90% of the population is Muslim.
That in the way would not be so big deal if there is no this war consequences in me. So from the moment I moved here I started to get increasinly nervous. I took me almost a month to realise why. Every time I would go to the city and saw those extreme Muslims all those emotions I experienced during war started to come back. I’m literarily getting more and more scared. Of course, I’m keeping telling myself that neither of those people I see was not involved in the war in my country. But my subconscious does not wish to listen. I am afraid that I will have to go to counsellor. These emotions just keep increasing and I’m really close to my limit. I decided this weekend to stay at home and watch Stargate. I’m trying to relax and put this under control.
All of this is a bit disappointing. The war finished more then decade ago, and I still struggle with these war consequences. As time passes by I really, really believe that there is absolutely no excuse for war. It messes up the people, it messes up countries, and it messes up life.
And on top of everything there is this idiot who got arrested. When I heard about it, my first emotion was huge disappointment. I was hoping that this guy was forced to spend this last decade somewhere hiding in some basement or at least that he was dead. I hoped that he did not live those years. Somehow I thought that was fair, because he stole five years of my life, heck, from every person in the Bosnia.
I never wished war, but I had to live trough it. I still suffer consequence from it. And to learn that one of the bastards who were responsible for that was living normal life was really huge blow. The second reason for the disappointment is that his arrest actually mean all this war shit, all that satanizing of Serbs will start again. So when people ask me about my opinion I usually answer that I wish that he dies, so that trail does not take place. I wish to continue with my life. I do not wish to be reminded of the war.

So in the way both of these things now increase my nervousness and fear. I stopped to watch news; I do not wish to see anything connected with the war.
For the last decade I was working hard to make something of my life, to minimize the destruction war left on my life. And now, when I’m at the brink of the success (I actually started to get a job offer from respectable scientific institution across the world) I’m forced again to relive something I never caused, never was guilty of, never wished to live trough. Not only that I had to live trough the hells of war, but also later, when I faced the foreigners - the people who just heard the politically colored news about Bosnian war – I had to face judgement and accusation, just because of my ethnicity.

So I grow tired of explaining what I believe that is real cause of the war in Bosnia. The answer is actually very, very simple. But forgotten and buried below all those nationalistic and religion crap. The true was that in former SFRJ economical situation declined from late 70th of last century. Approximately at that time economy in country stopped progress and communist ‘economical planning’ caused that situation slowly became worse. In the years before war unemployment was so high that some bands made pop songs of which topic was desperate search for any kind of job. But since economy did not grow for decades before that there were simply no jobs. And of course, it is always simpler to put blame to those ‘others’. That is unfortunately in human nature. And that opened a road for all those blood-sucking politicians to increase ethnicity and religion tensions and ultimately start the war.

So that’s why I believe war started.

And now I have to face it again. I really have no idea how I will survive if I have to be here in Birmingham when that trial starts. I’m really worried, because I have no idea how to control my fear – caused with those war memories and experiences – if that fear is fuelled with all those war reminiscences. At the moment, when I’m walking on the Birmingham streets, I’m trying to keep my eyes on the pavement in front of me and I’m walking fast. That way I’m keeping probabilities that I will be reminded of war on the minimum.

I’m just afraid that’s loosing battle.

28 May 2008

September 1993

So the war continued. In 1993 we were already sick of it. And start to wonder when it will end. Then there was news that international community suggested certain peace agreement and that the end of war is in sight. The proposal was to give around 60% of territory to Serbs, without Sarajevo. As I remember we all thought that is grand deal and wished to accept it.
No one in Banjaluka or surrounding areas did not saw the point of losing lives because one silly city.
Then in September, our town was once more flooded with the army. One morning I woke up and again there was the army on the streets. One of the explanation offered to us was that the 16th battalion rebelled against the Karadzic’s decision to refuse the peace proposal. I know I was happy to hear that, because this battalion was the largest and the majority of the soldiers in it did came from Banjaluka region. So we all waited to hear what would happen.
Three days later soldiers went away. And the peace agreement was refused. The rumours said that Karadzic bought the commanding officers of the battalion so they terminated the rebellion.
Then my brother came home and said that he heard different story. The battalion was set into the town to capture some deserters.

It is a bit ridiculous that took me almost more than decade to find out the truth. And I found it out outside Bosnia. At the time when larges Serbian centre, Banjaluka, was occupied by Serbian army, international community and representatives believed that referendum was taking place, the referendum in which people were supposed to decide about the acceptance of peace agreement. And until today the international community believes that referendum took place.
It never did.
It wasn’t even mentioned.
I’m still angry because of that. We, people wished the peace and were willing to accept the agreement. But no one asked us. No one even told us that our opinion matters. No, our ‘lovely’ leaders asked us to continue dying while they controlled the black market.

And during this time I was physically threatened. I was in one of the largest shops in town, called Boska, when some armed soldiers from the battalion came into the shop. Few meters of me there was newspaper boy. Actually the young man, but he was disabled and therefore never went to army. Soldiers started to pick on him, to tear his newspapers and to push him around. I could not just stand aside and watch. I approached them and start to yell at the soldiers that they should be ashamed for what they doing. One of them attacked me, physically. I wasn’t his match. There was no way I could even slightly hurt him. So I started to cry and continue telling all of them that we thought that they suppose to defend us, not attack us, us who cannot defend ourselves. After those words other soldiers dragged the soldier who attacked me away. And some shop staff took me away to help me. Later I heard that one of the soldiers came back and paid the damage to the disabled newspaper boy.

Even today I do not like armies and soldiers. Once I was discussing this sentiment of mine with a UK soldier. He insisted that not all soldiers are bad. Yeah, I agree they are not. But it takes just few bad ones to do the damage. And I have no intention to let any soldier close to me anymore to find out is he/she good or bad.

27 May 2008

First horrors

Around that time my first cousin came home, the one who was in the Croatia when the first trouble started. He was finally back home. After troubles started in Croatia, he ended up in the army barrack under siege in Zadar, from 1991 until March 1992. In March 1992 Croats finally allowed barrack to be evacuated, so soldiers from that barrack were retreated in Sarajevo. And of course, Sarajevo exploded just one month later. So my cousin was trapped there too. Again under siege. Only in 1993 he finally managed to come back to his family. And then he decided to visit all relatives who were still around. So he came to visit us too.
His stories about fighting were the first ones I ever heard from the war. After seeing so many films with all those special effects, stories my cousin told were nothing special. The worst part was total lack of the emotions in him. He was describing killing other humans, as he would describe a route to a picnic site.
What I did not know then was that at the end of the war I would have same coldness and indifference towards killing as he did.

19 May 2008

Another blow

Since I was kid I dreamed of becoming the astronaut. Today I got another blow.
Right now there is an opening for the job at ESA, and guess what?
I have wrong nationality.
I do tick all other boxes and that makes me even more bitter.

03 March 2008


That period is somehow all dark in my memory. Like one big night. That winter mother of my friend, Dragana, had stroke. She survived, but she ended up as invalid.
One night few of us girls decided to take Dragana out, so that she can relax. There was police curfew in the place so our going out had to be finished before 10pm. We had to be in our houses at that time. Military police tended to shoot the people after that hour. Not nice prospect.
Anyway, that evening was my introduction to the wartime dating. We meet some pilots. Those were the only military men who you could find in town. The one who found me interesting was, in my opinion ugly, so the only reason why I accepted the date was because of my friend Silvana, who hooked up with his gunman.
This pilot, Zlatko, had rank of major at the time and he was piloting the helicopter. The only other member of his crew, the gunman was the man who was actually puling the trigger when they were flying.
I had at that time still the reminds of my ideals intact so I could not even think to date a man who kills other humans.
We went out twice, and both times it was double date. Both times he and his gunman were showing off, like little boys demonstrating how strong and big they are. That was too much for me. I was anyway scared and confused. No one ever told me how a civilian supposes to live in the war. All I know about war were those silly fact repeated in the books and films.
Then Zlatko asked me to have sex with him and that was it. I said no. Dragana and Silvana could not understand how I could reject a ‘Major’ so I invented some silly story that I saw him kissing the other woman. That story was acceptable as reason for terminating the dating.
After that I just faded into background. I did not wished to date. First there was this constant struggle to find enough food and fuel for heating, second the very idea of kissing a man who literarily just killed someone I found repulsive. And third I was scared that if I actually start to love a man he’d die in battle.
Dragana and Silvana enjoyed the fact that they could go to bed with the guy who will simply physically go away and will not make them any problems if they decide to sleep with someone else. So they used all this opportunities as much as possible. Now I believed that Dragana was using all that as the form of the escape. She was the oldest child in family with 4 kids. And her parents divorced just before the war. Her father was away in Germany. And then the only person who was caring about them became invalid.
So I was spending my days practicing the martial arts and self-defence while those two girls with whom I grow up were busy doing other things.
At that time I decided to try to find some decent way to earn the money. So I took the notebooks about astrology Darko left me and started to learn how to make a horoscope. I knew that I will sell ‘the fog’ but to me being ‘astrologist’ sounded much more decent and acceptable than sleeping around for food and money.
It took me 3 months to learn how to make horoscope.

That early spring siege was finally broken and I sold my first horoscope. Things started to look up.

First war winter

And then first war winter knocked on our doors.
The city was sort of under siege. There were no battle lines on the outskirts of the city but there was no possibility of the communication outside that small area which surrounded the city. And the worst of all, no power and no food supplies could be brought in the area.
I had pets before the war, huge fish tank with exotic tropical fishes and terrarium with the 2 turtles. Guess what, my turtles names were Donatello and Michelangelo. I loved that Ninja turtles cartoon too.

Anyway, tropical fishes needed warm water. So as the cold weather settled in my fishes started to die. I could not keep the tank warm. We could not keep our home warm. The heating fuel was same rarity as food and medicines. So my fishes and smaller turtle died.
At that time there were even more civilian victims. In the neonatal unit of the local hospital there were 12 babies whom had to be kept in isolated condition and they needed the oxygen. Those babies died too. They never got the oxygen. Later in the war we forgot about them. There were so many other victims that 12 babies were nothing. But at that time my brother was serving at the local military airport. He later told me that he was staring to unused huge bottles of oxygen laying in one of hangars at airports, the same oxygen that those babies needed to survive.
Me personally, ah. I was confused then. At that time I still could not believe that people can be so cruel, that such bad things can happen. And during that winter, during those cold winter night when I was sitting together with my mother next to the only oil lamp (we did not even had candles, we used animal fat which was too old to be eaten to burn), during those nights the nationalistic propaganda started to get me. I did start to believe that ‘the other ones’ are evil. I was half frozen, hungry and scared, and officials were telling me day after day that ‘the other ones’ were cause of my miseries.
I started to believe them.

27 February 2008


From that day things got worse. In the way people from Banjaluka were lucky because army swarmed the streets that morning. No fights broke inside the town. But in the town's vicinity real war started.
The major power plants that supplied the town with the power were around hundred kilometres to the south of the town, and unfortunately on territory where Croats were majority. So power was cut.
The Banjaluka is located in sort of shallow canyon. Water supply centres lay near the riverbed, low. And several largest residential quarters were located on surrounding hills. This meant that water needed to be pumped on those heights and for that electricity was needed, electricity which now was cut from the town.
So we did not had bullets and bombs flying above our heads, but we also did not have electricity or water supply.
Instead in library, learning, I spend that spring and summer going everyday to the nearby well and waiting for hours in the line for water.
Around month after war started food supplies dried out. My family was lucky. Mother found out about some distant relative of ours who worked in local ministry of defence. He put my father to serve in a military kitchen for the air force. So he started to bring home tins and other supplies for us to eat as well.
At that time I stopped being vegetarian. It was at the end matter of survival, so if there was only canned meat to eat then I ate the canned meat.
That year my brother ‘finished’ the high school. He normally would had one whole more year to go, but since he was ‘old’ enough to go to the army he successfully graduated, along to the rest of the young boys who were in last years of the high school education.
My parents were panicking and mother spent days trying to ensure he’s not put on the front line. She succeeded at the end. My brother ended up as logistic worker on the local military airport.
Then one of my friends was attacked. She was going home alone in the evening. Few male teenagers attacked her and tried to rape her. In the way she was lucky because some adult male came along and helped her. At the end she was just bruised, not raped. But regardless to that she was terrified and she did not dare to leave house for whole three days. After that she would leave only during the daylight and never alone.
And we lived in the same neighbourhood. That could easily be me instead of her. So to help myself I went to a local martial art centre to learn some self-defence.
That did wonders for my figure. Insufficient food and strong exercises melted me, but there was no alternative. Fear did not allow me to stop learning martial arts and food, well simply there was not enough of it.

At that time I actually learned that adult human body is not by nature made to digest milk. There were not any for months so my body stopped producing enzymes necessary to digest it. Even today I have problems with dairy product as a consequence.

26 February 2008

The war started

And that was the actual start of the war. Of course, people in my town still hoped that violence would not come to our neighbourhoods. And then one spring morning in 1992 I was awoken with phone call from my mother. She had to start working every morning at 7:30, long before I was even out of bed. She called to tell us not to leave house. The town was full of army. We did not know why.

As the day progressed we heard some rumours that several trucks full of explosive and weapons were stopped from entering town. And so army was on the streets to protect us from attack from vicious separatist.
I was confused. That day I did not leave home. Several days later I left to library. I was preparing an entrance exam to the university and I was still hoping that there would be classes; that this will stop soon. The army was still on the street. They were soldiers guarding the bridges. They were stopping trucks and checking cars that wished to pass the bridge. Not that there were much of them. Town was strangely empty. I remember that day because I bought the journal and my first story was published.
That day I was happy and confused. But as everyone else I still hoped that those troubles will be over soon and we’ll be able to continue with our lives. To do those ordinary things, like find job, go to university, spend evening with friends, listen to a music, watch nice film….

But that was only a hope.

25 February 2008

Before the war

Few weeks ago an Irish man I meet lend me a book to read. It was book about the Balkans history and he wished to hear my opinion about it; Misha Glenny’s book ‘The Balkans, nationalism, war and the Great powers’.
I read it.

And all my memories about the Bosnian war came back.

You see, I was born and raised in second larges city in Bosnia, city called Banja Luka. And I was there when war broke out. I was there during the war, and some time after…

Glenny mentioned certain naiveté of the people before the war. They could not believe that war will start. And that was true. All of us, every ordinary average person did hoped that war will not start. Of course, now I know that hope was for vain. Moreover, the signals of war started to crop up years before.
I still remember fall 1989 when I came back to school after summer break. Last summer year was normal, as any other before, my class mates and me were concerned with grades, cute members of opposite sex and pop culture. Then summer break came and we all went to our families to spend summer. Mine summer was similar as the ones before. I was spending my time with my best friend, Indira, lost in typical girl-teenager activities. Also that summer my younger brother discovered Jackie Chan films so my rainy days were spent in front of VCR, trying to remember how to say 'thank you' in Chinese and learn how to eat with the chopstick.

Then school started. And suddenly there were strange comments from the boys. They started to divide themselves into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’. First time nationality crept up into our class.
I considered those comments silly and did not divide between my female friends. And they all were different nationalities. My best friend, Indira was different nationality then me. But that was not so important. For two of us more important were two guys, Mirko and Edi.
My family was not nationalistic, no one cared about religion, and no one cared about nationalities. We lived in mixed neighbourhood. Croats, Muslims and Serbs lived together, in the same neighbourhood, visited each other, went to each others parties. Only thing my parents were careful about is to indicate which dishes of the served ones contained pork or alcohol if we had Muslims guests. The similar thing we did if we had Jews visiting, we did our best to prepare at least one kosher meal. Most of the families in neighbourhood did the same. It was a bit funny for me how neighbour Ibro (muslim) was happy to eat pork and drink alcohol when his wife was not with him. And we kids were always warned not to mention anything to aunt Zlata. Their oldest son, Edin, was at that time a cadet in the military school in Croatia. He is one year older than me; we grow up together, played together with all other kids in neighbourhood.
Another family from my old neighbourhood, Croats, were in the way very important to me. The wife Mira was for me example of the elegance and fashionable taste, while her husband, Nenad, was the person who supported my interest in science. My own father did not care, but uncle Nenad, well, he was showing me how to repair old radios, he was lending me bunch of the SF magazines ‘Sirius’ which fueled my imagination. And he was always lending me various books I needed for my school projects. He was from Dalmatia and several years before war started he decided to move back to Zadar. His wife did not follow him because of her mother bad health. I loved when aunt Mira asked me to baby-sit their only daughter, despite the fact that my own mother considered that nuisance. That last sumer, I watched together with Maria (their daughter) the cartoon 'Little Mermaid'.

In the end, the life was normal. The only thing that was worrying my parents and neighbours was economic situation and problems due severe corruption. As we kids grow up, parents started worrying about how to help us find a job. Unemployment in SFRJ was very high, and several years before war one can get job only trough strong connections or using bribe.
Around 1989 two major TV broadcasters in country started to fuel nationalism with the propaganda; one from Belgrade and one from Zagreb. I remember that my parents listen news from both station and somehow tried to get the true combining what they heard. The news from Sarajevo studio was largely ignored since that studio seemed to do similar thing as my parents.
As the school year slowly passed by, tensions started to appear. Slowly it started to matter which nationality we were. The process was slow, but tensions risen.
I got into fight with Indira. But not because of nationality, instead the cause was the boy, Mirko. Both of us liked him and foolishly I promised her that I would not make any move. I said foolishly because at the end Mirko preferred me, and that caused troubles between my best friend and me.

In the spring of 1990 I got funding for the astronomy summer school in Belgrade. I was delighted. But to get to Belgrade I had to travel trough the Croatia. At that time tensions were very high. All residents of old SFRJ were bombarded with nationalistic messages from those two major broadcasters, HTV and RTS. So hotheads started to act on what they heard, while ordinary people start to be afraid. So I travelled alone to Belgrade, by bus (the fastest way). The bus stopped in several cities in Croatia. I was scared, especially because few days before my trip there was news report about some nationalistic outbursts. Nothing happened. I had most wonderful time in Belgrade. Students who got the scholarship were from all parts of SFRJ, and I was not only one who was scared to travel. One Croat girl from Split took plane instead much cheaper train purely because of the fear. But we all get along well together. All of us.

At that time, prime minister Ante Markovic, was trying to patch country together visiting every major city in SFRJ and trying to conduct negotiations. Due to his lack of success, ordinary people called his team ‘travelling Circus’. At the end, that's what they were.
We were constantly bombarded by nationalistic messages. Slowly separation between groups in school grew. Boys were sometimes openly hostile to each other, and kept themselves separate. Girls started to behave awkward between themselves. I was sad to see how some of my friends show increasing lack of trust. And slowly we stopped to talk with each other. How we could talk about silly things when the stuff we heard in news was hanging above us all the time.

At that time I was strong pacifist, vegetarian and considered myself resident of the Earth. That year was for me personally significant. It was first time I ever get my hands on the book ‘Dune’ by F. Herbert. I loved it. I loved it so much that I started to write SF myself.

Also that summer 1990 I had last meeting with Edin, my neighbour son. He was at that time a military officer. Once he offered me ride in his new car and told a story I found then quite offensive. He talked about female friend of his, 25 years old. He bragged that he helped her to get married and claimed that if he did not do matchmaking she would not ever got married. I found that offensive. It seemed to me that he assumes that females have ‘best to’ date, as some product.

Then Slovenia separated. The fuss lasted less than one month and the later events transformed that into minor event. Ordinary people were relieved that war did not broke out. That year was my last year in high school. That year I meet one very cute Croat, Darko. He was interested in astrology, and since I was an amateur astronomer he used that to befriends me. I helped him to calculate planet positions, and he was trying to convince me that horoscopes were correct. I remember that he complained to me how his own language changed over few months. He was from the small Croatian town near Bosnia/Croatian border and he came in Banja Luka to study electronic engineering. He complained that during several months he spent at college language in Croatia changed so much that he had problems understanding it.
Now I believe he overreacted because HTV was receivable in Banjaluka and even today I had no problems to understand what they saying. But at that time people made jokes about ridiculous new words Croats invented to make their language really different.

And then war started. Croatia declared independence 1991 and Germany recognized it.
That combination transformed fear into panic. Nazi Germany was the one that helped few hundred extremists to take power in Croatia and start exterminate unwanted population. Years of previous propaganda already put fear into people.
I remember watching the HTV. They broadcasted the song called ‘Danke Deutschland’ (Thank you, Germany). Yeah, it was in German, with subtitles in Croatian. My family was silent. I could not stop thinking about the stories told by my grandparents. Parts of their families were killed in concentration camps during the Second World War. And on the TV we were seeing the symbols so similar to the one Nazi sympathizers used.

Bosnia at that time was part of SFRJ so army mobilised people in Bosnia to go and fight in Croatia. My brother was too young at that time, and my father was put in logistic because of decades old spine injury. I remember that we were very happy to hear that.
But boys who were my age were mobilized too. Some of them went to serve obligatory army time, just few months before Croatia declared independence. My cousin was one of them. I remember how my uncle, my father’s brother, used some connections to put him in military base in Zadar to serve that obligatory one-year of military service. Uncle was very proud when he succeeded. That was a jackpot. Easy one – year military service in lovely touristy costal town. It sounded as one-year holiday.
But after Croats thanked Germany, Croat hotheads attacked all military bases located in Croatia. Those bases had soldiers of mixed nationality. Communist ideology declared that ‘the people’ are the army. So every male had to do military service. And military usually put recruits far away from their families, scattered them all around the country. Kosovo was considered as the worst places for serving since at that time there were tensions there. Severe tensions. Unofficial stories about terrorism and sporadic troubles were circling in my surroundings. Members of all nationalities in Bosnia considered those stories true. They preferred their sons to be placed in more civilised places, as Croatia, Serbia, urban parts of Bosnia and Montenegro. And costal cities were jackpot. Only soldiers with strong connections or very lucky ones end up there. So my cousin considered himself to be extremely lucky. No one believed that Croatia will declare independence or that war will start.
So instead of having a holiday, my cousin ends up in the siege.
Another my uncle, another of my father’s brothers, was construction worker. Just before trouble in Croatia, his company got a contract to build a bridge in Croatia. He was over 50 years old at that time. And he did not believed in that propaganda he was hearing on the TV. He said that Croats are decent, civilized people and nothing bad can happened to him. So he went to Croatia to build the bridge. When war in Croatia started we lost all contact with him.