Tuesday, January 07, 2014

"From Enemy Territory" by Mladen Vuksanovic [5]

16 May to 15 July 1992 [pp. 85-124]

The final part of the diary covers his final two months in Pale, beginning with the return of his wife and daughter from Sarajevo (as noted before, the son stayed in the city while waiting for an opportunity to leave through the Jewish Community). His joy at being reunited is soon tempered by the growing despair and disgust by the continued slide of his community into total fascism.

On her first day back, his daughter tells him she would rather be back in Sarajevo. A visit with friends convinces her she will go crazy in Pale.

There is very little narrative here; just the slow, tedious tightening of the noose as the remaining Muslims of Pale lose their phones, their electricity, and their homes, until finally they are told that the Serb authorities can no longer "guarantee their safety." Vuksanovic allows Muslim friends to stay with him, particularly on the night after two Serb soldiers are killed and reprisal atrocities are widely expected.

More and more bearded chetniks in the streets. More and more hostile stares. Guns fired at Muslim homes at night. Soldiers show up to search his late mother's house without a warrant. Some old acquaintances turn out to have gone to the nationalist side. Being Serb will soon no longer be enough; one must be a "good" or "loyal" Serb to be truly safe.

The daughter leaves for Hungary, and as she leaves she begs her parents not to stay too much longer. The dog gives birth to three puppies; Mladen is delighted but wonders how to feed them.

One night their Muslim neighbor Mina, who deals with her fear by talking incessantly (Vuksanovic gets irritated with her then feels a little guilty for it) is staying with him and his wife; he notes that

"She talked non-stop all evening to dispel her fear, but fear is like water, it fills every crevice and finds new outlets."

Every page, every day brings yet another entry in this almost numbing catalog of a society being torn into a nihilistic wasteland; new indignities, new moral outrages, new betrayals--all shot through with a thickening atmosphere of fear and death. On the night of June 13 (page 124), he writes:

"I feel somehow that my life hasn't become just a past, that a future exists too.

These vampires [the Serb nationalists] have neither. That's why they destroy and kill. They won't for long. The penalty must be paid."


In the next post I'll summarize/review the final 40 pages of this section. After that, there is a short afterward.

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