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While I Wait: A Journey of Recovery

Memories of Life in a Besieged City

Copyright W.C.Turck 1994 “We’re losing our identity, but we cannot assume another, foreign one. We’ve been severed from our roots, but haven’t become a part of anything else; foreign to everyone, both to those who are our kin and those who won’t take us in and adopt us as their own. We live at the crossroads of the worlds, at a border between peoples, in everyone’s way. And someone always thinks that we are to blame for something. The waves of history crash against us, as against a reef. We’re fed up with those in power and we’ve made a virtue out of distress: we’ve become noble-minded out of spite. You’re ruthless on a whim. So who’s backward?”

                                  “Death and Dervish” Mesa Selimovic

 I hail from the Balkans. Yes, that dreaded, dirty place in Central and Southern Europe. I hail from a cursed land, from a promised land, from a land of people occupied by everyone, but enslaved by no one. The land of magic, witchcraft, overindulgence in alcohol, poetry, music, life and death. My country of birth is a tough place, a land of sorrow, tears and yes, more song. Balkans are where the promises of the West are broken and where the allures of the East do not exist anymore. This is the land where the fallacy and the impossibility of  the East-West War is stripped to its core, where the greed and grab for land, money, resources and more  is rendered visible. Balkans is the truth of the humanity and its presence represents all of which we, as humans, are trying to escape from and are striving towards. The cruelty and the enormous generosity exist simultaneously. Here, the  dichotomy of human condition is visible,  so beautiful, frightening and  alive. The Balkans offer a window into the human soul. So, yes, I refuse to hide behind couched words and calculated proclamations. I do not fit the mold, I defy authority and I drink and dance and sing (albeit horribly mind you) and that is the human way. The Balkans and the Yugoslav War is where I saw first glimpses of my, and everyone elses humanity; that which needs to be celebrated and that which needs to be squashed. The ease with which we as humans can slip into most violent behaviors is stark as is the quickness with which we decide to share our last meal with others. So think, dance, write, create  and find your inner Balkan soul. Trust me, it is there, if you are only brave enough to scratch the surface.


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