10 September 2009

Misplaced trust?

I recently bumped into insensitivity about the war consequences caused by the pure ignorance. It was in company of two women, one of which has even two brothers in USA army, but apparently they do not even comprehend what kind of the emotional effect war has on people.
Recently those girls invited me on a camping trip here; older of them actually organizing it. Younger of them I actually considered friend, up to that event.
Silly me.
In the moment of the openness I admitted to them that I feel uncomfortable with the idea of camping because it reminds me on the conditions refugees usually suffer. Instead of at least ignoring my comment, they started to ridicule me. Older one took her own experience as an example of how I should get rid all of that war consequences; she compared her experience of slight fear of the height that she apparently ‘cured’ by learning rock climbing with my situation. For me, that sounded like an advice to take an aspirin if you have pneumonia. I still remember last time when I was talking to professional counsellor and that person told me that I need help of the specialist, someone who specialized in post-traumatic disorders.
It was clear for me that both of the girls reacted in such insensitive way simply because of ignorance. That’s why I did not made any scene nor showed in any way that something was wrong to the rest of the company.
But that night I had nightmares.
My guess that the major reason for those nightmares was not so much reminding of the war horrors I went trough but the fact that I truly consider one of those women as a friend and I never thought that I will get ridiculed by her for the condition I’m trying to heal within myself.
Now I do not wish even to see any of those women anymore. I was thinking last few days should I tell them; show them, in any way what they did to me. But, I decided not to. I decided simply to avoid them.
I do not wish any more nightmares, I do not wish to be troubled with all that, and I definitely do not need someone who I trusted enough to open up to hurt me again in such way.

29 June 2009

My fears

Recently someone asked me what is my greatest fear. Again, one of the tough questions. Not because I do not know, but because I was changed by the war experience.
I answered that my greatest fear is getting caught in the middle of another war.
The true is that I would do anything I can to avoid that.

But to go back to the change caused by war.
When war was over in my country I was not aware of the emotional warping I had. After all, all the residents in my country were warped in the same way, so I was not different from the majority in any way. Then I got the scholarship for the graduate studies abroad. And there, I realised how my emotional reactions are strange. And in the way they still are strange.
Oh, I know how I’m suppose to react on the certain stimulus’s, mostly because I saw how people do react, but that emotional warping does break trough from time to time when I’m too tired or stressed.
I also know that I have that posttraumatic disorder. That “episode” in Birmingham confirmed it. Right now my symptoms are subdued, so I do not feel urge to do anything about it.
Just this question about my fears made me think about all of it. I should do something about it.

26 March 2009


One of the comments Fresca gave me about this blog gave me idea to tell you all about the animals in the war zones. They are usually ignored because we humans put ourselves first.
So Bosnia is around 2/3 covered with mountains, the rest is more-less flat (I do not count the hills, they are almost everywhere in that “flat” part). And since the whole of the flat area is populated or used for agriculture, most of the wild life can be found in the mountains.
I mentioned that my mum and I were going to my grandfather farm to work in some kind of garden. His farm was close to the mountain called Kozara, one of the smallest ones in Bosnia, you could reach the top in one day. But since it has very significant history in the Second World War almost the entire top if it was declared as national park (during the communist times). So at my grandpa farm we were used to see some of the wild life typical for the lower mountains. (Birds, some foxes, etc. etc.) But during the war we started to see the animals that appeared only in the high mountains. You see most of the battle lines were in the high mountains so the animals were simply running away, trying to survive. But we could see only the predators and the birds. Bears, wolfs, eagles, kinds of falcons that live far up the mountains, owls, etc. etc... And that was not surprising; soldiers from all sides would let them go. But the animals like deer, elk and similar they would hunt down for the food. Neither of the sides did not feed their soldiers properly, so most of the soldiers went hunting.
I remember one sad/funny story about the horse told by one of the boys who grow up with me. He was stationed in the region around place called Zenica, and apparently some terrible skinny white horse wandered around the local battle lines. The horse was just pile of the bones held together with the skin and very old one at the top of that. And that helped it to survive. The story went that one night someone, some soldier sneaked up to the horse and painted large letters UN on it’s sides. There was a “rule” by which either side was not allowed to shoot any white vehicle with the letters UN on it. So skinny white horse was left alive.
That horse was domesticated, it belonged to some villager who had to flee the area. Usually when people would flee the area they did not take the animals with them. Sometimes they tried, or sometimes animals would follow them (like dogs), but mostly the animals were left behind. So some of those animals would end up as the soldiers’ food, some would die from hunger, and some would go wild.
Also, during the war, no matter how hungry we were we would never, ever accept the pork or the predator fish from someone we do not trust. And that was because the pigs that went to the wild ended up eating the human corpses from killed soldiers and civilians. Fishes, well, if there were the river running trough the battle zone, human corpses would end up in the water. When there was that last battle in the Croatia, the one called “Oluja” (storm) the floating human corpses in Sava were not rare sight. Sadly majority of them were civilians. So we refused to eat predator kinds of fish and pork. Those were acceptable only if you knew for sure where the animal is coming from.
And, what about the animals that followed the refugees? They were abandoned very, very soon. No matter how much you like your dog or any other animal; you cannot keep it when there is not enough food for you. I was in the big city, Banjaluka, and since most of the “leaders” were there, the refugees considered that city the safest and usually came there. That means that the town was flooded with the stray dogs and cats. They were half crazed by hunger, fighting each other and attacking the children too. So from time to time, the major of the city would send some hunters to kill them during the night, when most of the citizens were not allowed to move around. I remember being puzzled by the obvious lack of the dog’s corpses next morning. Until I found out that those dead dogs were ending up as the human food. I heard it once, (it was intended as the nasty joke) that some of those dead dogs were taken to those restaurants that had frequent foreigner guests.
To end the story, I’ll mention my first pet budgie I got just after the war. He was two year old, and I remember once seeing him scared to death when my father was watching some action movie on the TV and they started to shoot in it from the automatic weapons. I do not know what the poor bird went though before he got into my hands, but that fear was more than illustrative. After that I was usually taking him away from the room with the TV when the action films were on.

06 March 2009


I had recently dealing with a person who originates from my country. That person, did not been in the country during the war; and “officially” belongs to the one of the “other” sides. Oh, our initial meeting went nice, that person was extra kind. But slowly it turned out that that person wish of me to feel guilty for the war and apologize for it. Just because of my genes. The person refused to hear anything about my suffering in the war.
That was irrelevant, apparently.
And when I refused to tell bloody stories and started instead to talk about the hunger and civilian suffering, that was end of our contacts. That was not what that person wished to hear.
And then other people ask me why I avoid the people from my country abroad?
So that’s why.
If someone originates from my country and had not been there during the war that person has no clue about the true war and real suffering there. It has some deformed ideas about the whole stuff, the ideas that are basically black and white. Like you have one good side (theirs) and others are all bad and evil. So if they are from the side that declares “mine” evil one, they end up treating me as a trash when I refuse to apologize for the war and to spit on my own side. If they are from “my” side, they end up judging me as traitor because I do not have as extreme views as they do and dare to consider “our leaders” as stupid, greedy gits.
Now, even, I find myself telling people I’m actually from UK, instead from my own country. Simply because I have slight British accent and no one will mention the war to me. Also, this cut in the beginning all attempts for the socialization with the people from my country. They consider British to be weird.
Thanks goodness!

21 February 2009


Few days ago I realized that a boy with whom I grown up together turned into person with a nasty fundamentalist views. I could not believe that someone who actually saw what horrors war brings can actually ask for another one. So I terminated all the contact with him. After I was been through, I do not need to listen that kind of shit anymore.
Anyway, the rest of the war continued almost in the rut. Sides were attacking each other; in certain areas was the standstill. So another winter came and left. 1994 year came. Now I was already emotionally numb. One had to be, in order to get trough all of that.
Of course the rage because failed attempt from previous year remained. We knew that our “leaders” refused it. And we know that was done because Karadzic had this sick connection with the Sarajevo. At least that’s what we were told. The truth was slightly different.

As I said my brother was recruited 1992. Barely 18 years old. Anyway, after that trouble in the city from 1993 he disobeyed his captain and the captain released him from the army. Oh, that was not a reward. My brother had a quite safe place; he was tanking the fuel into the planes on the nearest airport. So only bad consequence he had was constant stench of the kerosene on him. But, let me start from the beginning. When the government recruit the new soldiers they do some testing on them to determine where to put them. My brother failed all the tests on purpose, so that he would be put in the least demanding position.
You see, our maternal grandfather was an officer, got loads and loads of medals in the Second World War. And he was teaching both of us how to use weapons and shoot. Both of us, my brother and me were quite good in that; so good that grandpa was planning to put us for the official competitions (in the peace time). So therefore my brother missed the target on purpose when he was tested. If he’d shown his true skill they would put him to a duty of the sniper. And my brother did not wished to kill anyone. But since he was a teenager at the time he made mistake. A year after testing, his captain told the unit that the person who scores the best result at the shooting practice will get 2 days of leave. And my brother, tempted by the offer put every bullet in the black of the target. He got a leave. And hate from captain. It did not take long for captain to realize that my brother was missing target on purpose earlier.
So the first instance the captain got, he released him from service. This did not mean that my brother got free from army and war. No, this meant that he’s back into the recruiting. Because at that time every male from 18 to 60 was automatically recruited. And this time he will be assigned to the battle lines. Literarily as the cannon footer.
We did try to hide him for some time, but unfortunately we could not do it for long. You see, we did not have any money or property to buy him a safe position. That’s what the richer people in the country did. If you had a money or very good connections you could get assignment to the logistic, and logistic was safely away of any danger, deep behind the battle lines.
So my brother went to the battle line. The one near Bihac region. Our forces surrounded that part for years. People were wondering why it was not simply taken. And when my brother got back to his first leave he told me why.
Because our leaders were selling the food and weapons and all the other supplies to the people who were inside the surrounded area. My brother saw trucks full of the things going trough the lines, escorted by some special unit responsible directly to the “government”. The very, very nasty kind of soldiers.
And that was not all. All the humanitarian aid that was sent to the civilians went trough the local Red Cross. Unfortunately, the head of the Red Cross was the wife of the Karadzic, so people did not get any help. Instead, you could buy in the private shops the cans, flower, and other supplies that had a mark on them (written in English usually) that those items are not for sale, but they supposed to be distributed as humanitarian aid. The same happened with the help that was send by the private persons or even brought in the country by the private persons. Medicines, food, washing powders…, all was just taken from those private persons officially and then sent to the shops. For the people to buy, if they had any money. If you did not, you starved.
My paternal grandfather was a farmer when he was alive, so my mum and I regularly went to the farm, made there a vegetable garden, and we were able to have some food. Sometimes enough even to give it to other, less fortunate people.
We could not buy anything from that “humanitarian aid”. Only once, we got a bag of flower as the humanitarian aid; for all that duration of the war.
Interestedly, because of this, I found out that we, humans, are not supposed to eat or drink any milk after third year of our life. You see, my mum and I could not get any milk or dairy products. Meat and dairy were so expensive that we barely had any during the whole war. So my body stopped producing the enzymes necessary to digest the milk. Of course, I found out about that only after war, when I actually tried to have a glass of chocolate milk. Instead of the treat I was expecting, I got really sick. Then I got explanation why that’s happened.

My mother told me about one case connected with this misery in that period. She told me how one soldier came home for the few days of the leave to see his family only to find them half starved. They had no money, no help; they ate only food they could get from other people, the ones like my mum and me. He was furious, so he went to one of the private shops with his gun and forced salesperson to give him food, that “humanitarian aid” stuff. And, later, military police came to arrest him. He laughed at them.
For year there was a “new law” that any crime committed will be ignored until end of the war, and the “criminal” will be reassigned to one of the worst battle line. That happened because too many of the soldiers from the bad battle lines were doing crimes on purpose just to be taken into the prison. The prison was better option than the battle line.
The trouble was this soldier was already assigned to that line and unit; anyway, he was there from the beginning of the war. So military police did nothing. There was nothing to do anyway.

So that was what was going on in that winter. Next April the refugees from Croatia started to arrive running in front of the Croatian troops; and the situation in the town got worse.

09 February 2009

Long time

I did not write anything for long time. The trouble is that in the remaining half of the war I need to describe there were things happening that I would prefer really to somehow erase from my memory and the life.
I’m at the moment afraid to even start remembering those. I just do not wish nightmares to start.
I did described one of the incidents from that period in my other blog. You can find it in the post: http://darwi-nerd-land.blogspot.com/2009/02/human-nature.html

Sorry, you’ll simply have to wait a bit for the continuation of the story here.