|DIARY OF JASMINA TESANOVIC
April 12th, 1999 - 5 p.m.
I couldn't go to sleep last night, finally I took a tranquilizer, there it goes, I started too. I postponed all these weeks the use of drugs to stay normal, but I see that no normal person can stay normal without drugs, if you want to stay here. I don't want to go, I don't want to leave my city, my friends, my streets, my habits, my language. I don't believe in Other: I understand those who left, out of fear, out of needs, I could have been one of them too, but I want to stay. Friends from all over the world offer me flats, money, help... But the only thing I need from them and from others all over the world is to try to stop our war.
During the day we live the Serbian war: new identity cards, walk on bridges, solidarity among hurt people... During the night we have the NATO war: detonations, fires, shelters... Yesterday a journalist was killed in the center of Belgrade, in front of his house, in the middle of the day. Is this war too, and whose war is this now? Who's next?
Kids go to discotheques during the day, they make parties during the day. They say: who knows, maybe this will be our last bit of fun. Other factories were destroyed last night, petrol storage, again Pancevo and Novi Sad, two cities with such peaceful and easygoing people, for the past few years full of refugees from Croatia and Bosnia. I have friends in both towns, one of them emailed me: yes we will go on with work for our international summer schools, they are more important than ever. But at this moment we have dead people here although we, at the peace movement are still all alive... He is much better than me, I don't want to go on with international summer schools, I don't want to fake normal life: we will need years to get out of this mess, out of destruction, fear and anger, and I will take my time...
Last night an old man next door was taken to the hospital, during the intensive air raids. He was tied to a chair and carried out of his flat; he politely said, Good night. I guess it was some kind of nervous breakdown: alone, all these weeks, he couldn't take it anymore. Better a crowded hospital.
An old woman I know stopped eating: she is a prewar
communist. One of the few honest people I know, nevertheless
not less dogmatic. I can imagine the questions and
answers that find no sense in her head; her body reacted.
April 13th, 1999
The old man next door who said good night died: good night ladies, good night my sweet ladies. Today I watched TV: the woman with a scarred face from the train hit by NATO bomb answered the question: what do you think of this NATO aggression. <<I just went to visit my relatives for Easter>>. I refuse to give interviews and opinions on what is going on. I am just like the woman with the scarred face, a political idiot, where idiot stands for what it meant in ancient Greece: a person who to whom information in denied: at that time most of men and all of women. Today, all of us, all over the world.
Humanitarian aid is a big business. There will be a lot of opportunity to do business for the next 20 years at this scene of the crime. I hope I won't be here to witness anybody's sense of guilt. My young friend from Pancevo writes to me, they are hit nearly every night because of the factories: we are still alive, the same as I write to my friends abroad... He goes on; I am lobbying against military logic all over the world. Think positively. Obviously I am not thinking positively, but somebody must think negatively, too. Usually women do it.
I saw the buses of relatives and doctors leave from
the center of Belgrade to the place where the train
was hit on the bridge: nobody was crying or being
emotional. I looked at myself passing a window; I have
changed, too. I don't cry anymore, I sleep during the
raids, I work during the day, I laugh. When you get
used to it, there are fewer chances to end it, you
simply forget how and why...
April 14th, 1999
A very strong detonation, from nowhere woke me up: that will be my day, just a way to calm down. Instead of writing, cooking and who knows maybe reading, it will be just compulsive movements to calm down the pain in my stomach.
I look at the photo of my cousin who died only few months ago of AIDS: finally after three weeks, tears come back to my eyes. The new moment is that I am happy her agony wasn't longer: poor, sick and spoiled as she was she would have suffered even more this barbarian historical moment.
A true crack in the time: we are going back to forties,
old men from World War II are commanding young people
who know nothing about war except to die. Somebody
spoke today about dangerous dreams of the forties:
destruction and reconstruction. I remember how my Italian
communist friend speaking about revival fashion said:
the forties are my time, the age of reconstruction,
starting from nothing, making your life new...
April 15th, 1999
In the middle of the night the windows started to rattle violently as in a horror movie and the sky was full of fire: my daughter woke up and screamed and clung to me. She is bigger than I am now but she had all of a sudden the body of a baby. I was so tired emotionally that I could hardly open my eyes. She was afraid but she didn't want to move from her bed, go to the shelter... She asked me, what is this now, why all this noise. I said it is our army darling, don't be afraid. It was the first time since the war started that I made a difference between the weapons and it was only to calm her not because I believe in it. Yesterday there were more than 1000 people attending the funeral of the killed journalist with three bullets in the back of his head: a signed, professional murder. Stories about his death are even worse than this cold blooded killing. The more stories I hear the less I am convinced there is any story to it: he was a brave, intelligent, powerful, good looking man: I guess that is enough...
Horrible, horrible pictures of refugees killed by bombs
in the convoy in Kosovo. Horrible NATO definition of
collateral damage to the targeted military convoy.
I saw some soldiers here in Belgrade: they were young,
very worried, awkwardly carrying the big guns. I can
imagine them in a convoy, during the night, in the
woods in Kosovo: all these city boys could be my sons...
April 16th, 99
I started this diary, my war diary, on March 17th, 1998, more than a year ago when the conflicts in Kosovo began. The title of my diary: Normality; a Moral Opera by a Political Idiot. I can hardly remember my life before I started thinking in this way. I can hardly remember my life before the bombing of Yugoslavia started on March 24th. But I insist; I don't want to go back, only ahead. At literally any price. I cannot pretend that I don't know the things I saw in the past few weeks, years...
Last night panic struck my household: the noises and lights of the Yugoslav artillery covered the sky over Belgrade as in a military parade whilst literally 300 NATO planes were flying over the city, again as in a military parade. Children started screaming, out of fear and joy, like at a circus. I ushered them in a great hurry to our local shelter: I drank wine quickly to stop my hands and knees trembling and then we went back home where, as the children say, they feel best. We slept like logs.
My friend says who is a University professor of chemistry and has traveled a lot said: I don't know any place in the world that has such wonderful microcosms and such a terrible macrocosm, as Belgrade, Yugoslavia. My other friend said; I hope the war spares Belgrade and its atmosphere, we saved it already once in '92, unarming the uniformed violent people from all over ex Yugoslavia with this easygoing Belgrade atmosphere. Yesterday we went shopping: the shops are full and the prices are going down, especially clothes. People have no money to buy anything anymore; those who have some keep it for the future hardships. We called it the last shopping. I always hated shopping for clothes but yesterday I enjoyed it, maybe because I believed it is the last.
We heard on radio that kids will not have to pass a state exam for entering high school: the joy among them is enormous. It was a wrong and hard exam but these kids are happy without any exams, any school, anything anymore. They say, don't you see now that going to school was useless: other things matter, like power, money... They don't connect knowledge with power and money, not after this war.
People from abroad ask me, how are Serbian people taking
the death of the bombed refugees? What a question!
The same as all other civilian deaths, too many which
have occurred in this "humanitarian bombing".
It never occurred to me to think of dead civilians
as Albanian or Serb. But obviously people from NATO
countries feel differently. And maybe they should:
it is their bombs, their tax money, as citizens from
democratic countries usually say. They can also choose
their victims. Another anniversary, April 16th is
the Easter day when Belgrade was bombed by the allies
in order to be liberated at the end of the war. Let's
not abuse the parallels to feel better, to feel worse.
In those days a thousand people were killed in Belgrade,
a maternity hospital was hit, not mine, the second
biggest in the region and 15 new born babies were
hit. In our war today the babies were in the cellar
and the hospital wasn't hit; let's hope it stays so,
let's hope that <<humanitarian>> bombs
really bring us peace, and not only the peace after
April 17th, 99
An American journalist quoted a humanitarian Australian worker in Kosovo who said: 'Thanks NATO for bombing us, for destroying our blankets and medicines.' NATO officer replied at the press conference: 'sorry but our maps are old.'
A woman at the market who is selling me homemade cheese who comes from a village says: 'they are bombing us every day, getting the hell out of us, everything is destroyed. Can't somebody tell them that it's been two years now that the army has moved out of our village. I guess it is old maps again. '
Last night Belgrade was spared from bombs: but the weather is terrible today, it's raining, gusts of wind are hitting the windows, glass is trembling and parts of the facade of the old buildings are coming off and falling with thunder: people don't want to go out because of the weather, but they go out to see the bombs falling. I don't know why. A young soldier who survived 4 years of war in Krajina told me: never go out to watch the bombs fall, it is not good for your nerves and you have still a long way to go. I follow his advise. I go out in the rain but never during the bombings.
People are depressed, really and truly: more and more
stories I hear about people not wanting to get out
of their beds: no place to run, no place to hide. They
watch cartoons on TV all day long: no news can reach
them or do something good for their lives. Our lives
resemble refugee camp stories I collected some years
ago. I am very active, too active: the other side
to the depression; I work and function without pleasure
at all, as a robot, anxious that all jobs must be done:
petty jobs or big jobs, all the same.
April 18th, 99
It is Sunday, but who knows , who cares: we have been living the same day ever since he war started. Every morning, as in a film a saw recently with Bill Murray, the same rituals, fixed as if in eternity. We try to find space in between, to avoid some small unpleasant detail, but nevertheless, the day will be exactly as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow...
Yesterday a marathon was in Belgrade, traditional, under heavy rain... Public traditional wedding in TV...What else, all those tries, condemned by some, to make live go on... I think that those who can make it should, personally I am out of every thing that resembles human life, if I could choose I would be a cockroach at this point, much safer... Last night, in Pancevo, few miles away from Belgrade three factories were hit again: the dangerous one also, as they called it from the first nights of bombings when I was in the underground station and there was an acid leak. Some people are evacuating: we in Belgrade had good wind, we are lucky once more, but the turns of gambler aren't something I would base my life on, if I had a choice.
In Batajnica, near the airport, a three year old girl has been killed, by the explosion of window glass of a detonation. She was very spoiled, her father said, 'she said I want to go to the bathroom, then she said, I don't want to, and after I let her go in, she never came out.' I know for myself how terrible it is to have spoiled children when the bombs set off: thy are ashamed of doing things as sticking tape on the windows, they are ashamed of us doing those things, so humiliating as survival...