Remembering Life in a War

Washing potatoes for tonight’s meal, I left the tap open, luxuriating in the flow of water until flashing-back to my life during the war in Bosnia and Croatia. Faucets were always dry and water was eked out for cooking, drinking and personal hygiene.  As a UN staff member, my hardship was only temporary since I was able to cross checkpoints and borders for a hot bath and cappuccino. Unlike the thousands trapped by the insane war, I could leave.

On this late-summer evening, I imagine a woman somewhere in Sarajevo, also standing by her sink and wonder how often she thinks of those days of dry taps, dark nights and fear? For me, these moments are only occasional, after all, it wasn’t my embattled land. Yet for a few years, it was a war I lived in and was almost addicted to. I wonder what it’s like there, more than a decade later? I want to sit in my imagined woman’s kitchen, and hear her tale of recovery.  Will it be like my own? I know something of processing pain and losses on a personal level – perhaps that is the only way one does.  But war on one’s own street, neighborhood, country certainly widens the net of tragedy.

One day, I would like to return to Knin, Vukovar, to Sarajevo, and share a coffee, a glass of wine with my sisters, to listen to their stories.  Meanwhile, I will try better to remember the preciousness of washing and cooking my food, taking a shower, cleaning clothes and having a light to read by.

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