Monday, November 24, 2008

Thoughts on Sarajevo - 11/8/08

I was cleaning my desk and found this scrap of paper, where I had scrawled the following during the train trip described in the previous post:

Sarajevo turned out to be a very interesting city, beautiful, sad, hopeful and unforgettable, and I am glad to have visited it. One the one hand, it reminded me of Ecuador, with its trash-lined streets, the grayness of its buildings where people's private lives hang in the open windows, and the vendors haggling in the streets and watching over their wares everyday for endless hours. But the grayness of cities has many sources.

Unlike in Ecuador, the face of war still hangs grimacing over Sarajevo. Some buildings have been entirely rebuilt, but most are still riddled with bullet holes and shrapnel marks. The post-war standard seems to be, "repair it to usefulness; attractiveness can come later." So, windows have been replaced and doors rebuilt, but everything else remains as it was when the shooting stopped 13 years ago.

Buildings deemed beyond repair have not been torn down, but stand as empty, ruinous reminders of a time when death lurked in every corner. The people of Bosnia have no need yet for post hoc memorials - the streets themselves, covered in shrapnel scars, remind everyone of what went before. Gaping windows tell us of a life lost. And even if you might begin to forget, the graffiti sprayed on every gray wall will tell you of your sin.

1 comment:

lemon-lime said...

Seriously, woman, I read this every day and you never post anything :-(