Tag Archives: War

The Season of Roses

We have a rose-bush in our backyard and the first bud bloomed today. I imagine the same thing is happening in Bosnia, a place I cannot help but think of whenever and wherever I see roses. Though the official national flower is the golden lily, the country is awash in roses. If you travel there in the spring and summer months you will find roses in the garden of every home no matter the economic status of the owners. And if the wind catches just right…their scent will overwhelm you.

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See?!

A beloved flower, they appear in the most unlikely places. These beauties?–

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–they’re outside of a Target-type department store.

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This little group graces the exterior of a car insurance company.

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You’ll even find them outside of gas stations.

Excuse the long view.

Excuse the long view.

Roses are used to make juice

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…and they have become a metaphor for the losses from the war in Bosnia as Sarajevans saw their familiar petals in the grenade blasts on the street and subsequently filled the crevices with red paint. (That is a topic for another day though).

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To mark the season of blooming roses, here is a bud for you–similar to the ones my father-in-law Akif would cut and give to me every morning after I’d stumble down to breakfast bleary-eyed and jet-lagged.

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Enjoy!

*Thanks to wikipedia for the image of the Sarajevo rose.

 

 

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The School That Was

On an afternoon drive, we came to a crossroads and Akif, my father-in-law, asked Jas to stop the car. At the crux was a very slight hill surrounded by pine trees. If you looked closely among the grass you could see the remnants of a building’s foundation.

“I taught here for six years, from 1966 – 1972” Akif said. He was the only teacher and had anywhere from 30 – 50 students at a time in grades 1 – 4. The pine trees? He planted them himself to make the area nice “for the children” he said proudly.

I looked between the trees and imagined Akif taking his students on science walks in sunny weather, shoveling a path for them in the snow, putting wood in the stove to keep the rows of students scribbling in their notebooks, warm. A scene from Little House on the Prairie only instead of an American flag occupying a corner of the room, there would be  a photo of Tito.

While in this reverie I stepped in it–the way one who has spotted a dog turd ahead on the sidewalk and makes a mental note to avoid it, gets caught up in other thoughts and splat!

“So what happened to it?” I asked, an idiotic question because in Bosnia when something no longer exists, there’s really only one reason for it.

“It was destroyed in the war” Akif replied.

Yes, of course it was, I thought looking at my shoes and trying to come up with something profound to say.

Instead I ventured: “Tata [Dad], you were the only teacher?”

He nodded.

“And the principal too?”

“Ja, ja” he continued nodding.

“Well…who did you eat lunch with?”

He threw his head back and laughed.

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Filed under Bosnia-Herzegovina, Travel, War