Serbs in Kosovska Mitrovica visited the cemetery on the south side of the city
Srbi u Kosovskoj Mitrovici posetili groblje na južnoj strani grada
“My child, don’t waste your time taking pictures, they’ve finished with us a long time ago”, said one grandma, holding an old, peeled stick.
Around fifty people gathered in front of the Technical School in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica. In one hand, clenching the thin, waxed candles that were rolled into the paper, and in the other fresh flowers, just picked, smelling like life, but dedicated to mark the death.
The bus arrived around eight in the morning. Bended heads, dragging bags with hot coffee, rakija, and some food, what the deceased loved the most, they walked towards the door of the bus. There was no police escort, everyone said it was safe now.
In silence, they got out of the bus and quietly walked up the stairs to the monuments. Destroyed monuments, overgrown with darnel, without names and pictures on them. They were all looking for a place to stab a candle, for the soul of the loved ones to be cheerful for a moment or two. I watch them pull out the restless weeds with their bare hands, because the soil beneath is dry, desperate for rain, but got only tears.
“I’m going around the monument, I can’t raise it, how to put it … I do not even have the picture to kiss, they took it off …” stuttered a younger man who came to visit his father’s grave.
“Come on, my child, come to drink something for Ljuba, that is the custom, it’s good,” she shouted when she saw me. Here’s coffee, so take some … and you want some brandy, Ljuba made it, it’s good, try … ”
I took some brandy, it was strong, a plum one, burns my lips, I can smell it.
” Before this terrible war, he died, my Ljuba, I am alone for 22 years! What can I do, I am old and alone for 22 long years … it’s a lot, my child, I do not have kids and I do not even have a monument, they demolished it, but let them, so be it. You see, here I will lay, next to my Ljuba. ”
Life goes on, but it stops for a moment. Allows people catch their breath, sigh deeply, and remember all that they have lost, those who have disappeared, but still not known where their bones were thrown. Then the soul tightens, the heart cleaves, the throat dries out, and the lips tremble. Tears slip down the dry face, which strangely wrinkles at that moment, discovering of all the horrors of the past that still lurk, grabs and drags in the whirl of the deep darkness, that some of them never come up from.
I tightened the camera to my chest and watched the demolished monuments all around me.
“Take a picture, my child, see what they’ve done to us, take a picture of Ljuba for me once again, and then whatever God gives you,” the grandmother said and went home with her neighbour to the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.