A MULTIMEDIA DOCUMENTARY PROJECT ON THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION: THE LAST GENERATION TO REMEMBER A TIME WITHOUT THE INTERNET.
“Film her, she’s dying.”
I had been taught English since third grade. “Stop filming, I am not going to die.”
She was a reporter from Los Angeles who had promised to save me by taking me out of Mostar. War does not have the best facilities and she seemed embarrassed by her crude prediction for my future. I was underage, and without my family I knew that if I left, I could not survive, and they would not survive alone in my absence.
“Her left hip smells bad.”
Dr. Rose’s desire to continue fixing the damage was countered by my parent’s decision that it would be best for me to leave. He explained I could not subsist outside of the hospital, and that the trauma my body had already suffered made it too weak to bear travel. He tried to act as any other doctor who wanted to help their patient would.
I was afraid. My parents hid beneath sheets. They wanted the driver to open the rear of the ambulance and confirm a patient existed. The city boundaries had been closed for a very long time now, and only a few were permitted to leave. I was in the back of the ambulance, stretched out among plastic bags, tubes and drains. How do you
tell a three-year old child not to make a sound? My brother lay still. They pushed the doors back together and I knew my family was safe.
The ambulance stopped in Split, the second largest city in Croatia. I was taken to the hospital and a bed was found in the children’s ward. I neither expected, nor predicted, this ward would be bound by the soldier recovery units which housed the Croatian soldiers wounded in Bosnia, my country.
“When do we leave for LA?”
This hospital was only supposed to be a temporary transition, a stopover on the only way out of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, itself a territorial transition between Serbia and Croatia.
“Visiting hours are from 3:15 pm to 4:00 pm.” The reporter left and I remained. She promised to return once everything was prepared for my family and I. She promised it would take no longer than a week. The ambulance had left and there was no way to go back.
The visiting room television screens showed wounded men fighting and dying in the cities of South Herzegovina. The fiercest violence was reported in the capital of Herzegovina, which I knew as Mostar.
“Do you see what you bastards are doing to us! This is your fault.”
Hate is a disease that I never knew existed. I was on the receiving end of this disease—a representation of what they were taught to hate. Television, news articles, even street plays all became my torture. Genocide justified by hate, teaching generations to hate, now teaching me to hate myself.
Editor's note: The Bosnian War followed the breakup of the Republic of Yugoslavia. Mainly a territorial conflict, the war, which lasted three years, from 1992-1995, was fought between various religious and ethnic factions. Some calculations place casualty figures in the hundreds of thousands. For more go here.
To be continued in a fortnight...