|DIARY OF JASMINA TESANOVIC
April 19th, 99 - 5 p.m.
My friends last night were talking about our future: in very very pessimistic tones. They are all educated people, with no savings, impoverished in the last ten years of economic overturns, with more or less strong patriotic feelings, from the opposition, but definitely people who for some reason or other do not want to go in exile. The feeling that is getting stronger among common people here after the beginning of this recent war is that nobody really wants us anymore anywhere, maybe not even here. It is a very strange feeling for young or middle aged people, quite common in old people, but not for those who are still strong physically. It is more than a depression, it is common sense which resembles depression. Texts of famous writers from all over the world speak also about us Serbian people, unable to emancipate, wake up, as accomplices of atrocities, all of Serbs... I won't quote those names, some of them were even my fiends if not people I admired. I forgive them all, but I refuse to read them or consider they even exist, as I did some years ago with our local writers who took the aggressive course of nationalism: for me they exist no more...they lost their people, so for whom they are writing now?
April 20th, 99
Instead of going on bridges people should guard the factories of potential ecological catastrophes, two of them I hear are very dangerous, and were hit. I hear say that people on bridges are manipulated by parties, that parties are fighting among them to manipulate the same crowds, but I saw their faces, and I am one of them. I don't wear badges, I never wear any public signs, in war or in peace: I feel manipulated to wear Levi on my jeans, I never buy signed clothes nor signed thoughts. But I am as manipulated as people on the bridges, on the streets, in queues for cigarettes, with patriotic or traitor's thoughts. I know it and I am ready to offer my body to protect the dangerous factories or to be a dividing unarmed wall between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. It is a heroic way of being a coward. But nobody gives me, nor people like me any chance.
Some people I know, doing nothing, hearing no news and just fearing the future, unable to do anything about it , change their political ideas from left to right in half an hour, during one conversation: educated, intelligent people. Are they manipulated, are they mad, is that the way of being bad Serbs as some abroad call us... I have so many senses of guilt, private and public, but their is a global one that incorporates both of them when I close my eyes every night in bed: it is a sense of being exactly what I am, there is something wrong in it, if nothing , the fact that I cannot find anything to love about me, meaning there is nothing I can pass on.
I watch the movies in a different way since our war started: I notice that in every exciting film there is at least one scene of true well represented violence: the emotional impact of art or industry is based on this true shock to your nervous system: that is why I cannot watch movies anymore, but listen to Requiem, by Mozart, because he starts from the point which claims: death has come to get you, be prepared and be happy.
Oh, yes, and something about atrocities, about Albanian refugees... Please, all of you who are reading this understand that I accept all the blame as much as you want me to. I know what is going on, even if I have no proofs but some people saying it, as I am saying all these things about my life, expecting you to believe me. Now, what is my cross: NATO bombs, Serbian patriotic death. OK, between compulsive patriotism and compulsive sense of guilt, I guess there is no way out. It would take another life to do so.
And between claims that chemical factories have been
hit together with a tobacco factory and claims that
it hasn't been so, there is not much space: we have
to breath air, drink water... even if we don't have
to smoke cigarettes but smoke in the air, over water,
woods will cover, all sides, in and without uniforms,
good or bad ones...
April 21st, 99
Last night new Belgrade was hit, the building of ex Central Commitee of the Communist Party, today of new power, new TVs, new parties, new business firms...
Yesterday the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church was in Belgrade, guest of all officials, opposition parties and the people were asked to walk in the streets without party signs, not even flag, but with a candle in one's hand. I decided not to go out at all, afraid that the crack in the time will eat me.
Power and people of power are changing their faces and places: you cannot recognize them easily anymore, once their were communists and religious people at least, now they are all everything, taking each other's words and places.
Every morning news, more places hit, less things to
hear, it seems all the same, sometimes even the targets
are literally the same, if not the pictures we see,
first on local TV then on foreign taken from local.
We are turning to books and chess and cards: long
days and nights ahead of us, without TVs, bridges,
roads, visas, but among friends and relatives: now
that is crack in the time, it did get me, and it is
the fifties, the years I was born that now I am living
as an adult: my parents are getting younger and I
am getting older, actually now we are not only of
same flesh and blood, but of same age and time.
April 22nd, 99
Every night I drink wine in order to go to sleep, I give it even to the children so that their sleep is deeper so that the detonations are shallower. But my dreams speak of what my mind refuses to know: last night I dreamt that somebody was going to set up my daughter to be involved in the murder of the Colorado high school pupils. I dreamt of a photo with the two killers/boys and my daughter's face in the middle. She knows nothing of it, I know too much: she is in the photo because she is Serbian. Now, I don't believe in that kind of rubbish, you have prejudices everywhere, even when you think you don't; but then, this morning I saw on CNN how Serbian children are harassed in a American school for being Serbs, for being responsible of Serbian policy. I don't like my dreams, I don't like my reality, I will try tonight without wine, and without sleep...
Last night the president's residence was hit and destroyed:
no comment. Does anybody really want my comment. The
official TV is giving pictures of the destroyed villa
in long dumb silence, the foreign TVs take it personally.
Again, we political idiots, have a specific dimension:
now I thought immediately of the mother of my friend
abroad, an old woman who lives alone in the neighborhood:
she definitely was in her house, she doesn't have shelters
nor other options. I know her history, because of her
father's house in that residential power zone. All
the people in power, as they came to power, wanted
to get rid of her. But for 4 generations now, the family
managed to keep their house, against all, now finally
against NATO. I wish that women like her win all the
April 23, 1999
I guess you all know, the TV building was hit last night: my window burst open from the blast, I live quite near whilst my parents are just behind. A very good friend of mine is the building next to TV. We are all OK, except for the sacrificed TV workers, common craftsman who had no ideas about what the program should look like. I am OK except for the people this morning in the market clearly distressed by lack of understanding. Just yesterday I thought, now everybody is fighting for our souls, of us Serbs led astray, all these TVs, local and international: we even receive American leaflets from the planes telling us about us... Not even the Colorado teenaged killers could draw attention from our educational program. My father said: the impact wasn't that bad, worst part was seeing the decapitated bodies taken from the TV building. The Serbian TV is broadcasting again, better than yesterday: some of foreign journalists who arrived yesterday to report are afraid for their lives. I am afraid for my soul, and yes for my children who walk through center Belgrade, next to ex TV building: they say some unexploded bombs are still hidden around.
I was in the Greek embassy today: the embassy is open
the consulate is closed. And they are the last embassy
giving humanitarian visas with very strict rules. They
were nice, tender. It was our people who made me cry.
An old lady was repeating, I have to take a cab and
go and check if I switched off the lights, I may provoke
a fire (rules under bombs). But the alarm is not on
I said. Never mind she said, it may provoke a fire.
Young, old, middle aged women of different social
backgrounds were smiling all the time to the Greek
staff, in order to get a visa, they were pleading,
arguing, crying... My God, I don't need that kind of
life. I don't need a visa, I asked for my passport
back without a visa: they couldn't find it. So there
it is, for trying to be privileged I became person
without identity: I feel free. They will find my passport
on Monday, they said, but I won't go anywhere, not
splitting with family, friends, not as privileged but
humiliated, even if only for two days. If we have to
go, we will leave all together, as Albanians did. Dignity
and love is the only thing we have yet to loose.
Since the big NATO celebration going on in Washington is dazzling all the TV channels, we expected here in Belgrade the bridges to be hit, to finish it off, in one big dazzling operation and to start all anew: the new NATO era. I watched the military waltz, the flags, the uniforms, the audience, the speeches... It was as surreal as our reality here, that of political idiots under bombs. It is not stern and grave as commentators claim the world that NATO is protecting has become, it is funny, surreal, and dangerous. Hostages of both sides, and of bad weather, we stay in homes and watch life of the Others on TV, the screen coming and going, depends on which side is militarily stronger at that point.
Belgrade wasn't hit last night, but the alarm was still on: I had a nice sleep. My friend from Rakovica ( a severely damaged art of Belgrade)phoned me last night: she is in a nervous breakdown, the window in her bedroom fell on her while sleeping, she is afraid of radioactivity , she wants to have children, to go abroad, but actually her only possibility is to go to a video club and watch films while the bombs are falling around her bedroom.
I think I will stop writing for a while, my life besides repeating itself has become that of TV programs.
PS I just heard that the people in TV of Belgrade were
warned by NATO of air strikes but that their orders
and decision was to stay. I guess not all. I don't
believe in orders , I don't believe in heroism, I always
see something else, ugly behind it and it inevitably
happens, especially to those who believe in heroism
I just saw a film by Peter Weir with Jeff Bridges: the recovery from a posttraumatic shock after the plane crashed. I am there, I cannot say yet I was there, I am still there. Now I know it definitely, we are all there, and the ones who are not yet soon will be, the defenses are falling down, one by one. And I am not afraid of death anymore, nor of flights or bombs. I was, my God, I had phobias, after the emergency landing in ë97 in a Swissair flight which a year later crashed at the same place. I developed phobias after NATO threatened to bomb Belgrade in 92, 95, 98... Now I have planes bombing us and here I am, without phobias, but I am not here I am there, beyond fear of death, with only strong wish to die together with the ones and life I love.
I am crying with relief every day not with fear, I am seeing only people who are sharing or have shared my reality, I am not wasting my life and time anymore: maybe I will never come back, but I am not sorry, on the contrary I am sorry for my wasted time, though fun it was so let it be...
Last night I dreamed that some kind of police, without
clear signs, but in uniforms with weapons rant the
bell of my door: they were coming to get the men. I
didn't stir, I didn't breathe, I thought it was real,
even this morning I am not sure I dreamt it.
Politicians here are speaking of total war, all Serbian blood spilled; people are talking of life without water and electricity; our Bosnian friends are sending us instructions how to survive, I guess, both. Children are playing all day long, we are playing with children, to keep them busy, denied any bigger responsibilities...
I walked on the streets of Belgrade, after many days, I dared look close at the debris of hit building in the center, and the faces of the passer by-es. Now the buildings, I ma really not impressed as I thought I would, we sat in a cafe in front of a destroyed building: it felt natural. But the faces of the people: they are long, worried, different, definitely different from the e ones I used to see, more or less appealing to my sense of decency. I am glad it happened, I ma glad people are finally worried, thinking for themselves after many many years. My friend, who takes care of her very old father said when she heard that official TV was hit: Oh my God, what shall I do now, without that TV he cries and refuses to use the toilet...