Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Lighter and Darker side of Life

I follow the professor into the classroom. Like any classroom, this one is minimally furnished with desks for two, proportionately small chairs and attentive students in rows. Actually, the class is bursting with chatter belonging to hormone and insecurity driven teen-agers so amused and curious as to my strange presence. After a two sentence intro and proper understanding that I am from PA and not Virginia, the class is assigned overhead notes and me, an overly simplistic intro to Bosnian vowels and consonants. I try to look intelligient (the insecure teenager in me) and the class tries to avoid scolding. The professor concludes our awkward lesson and the entire class, myself included, enter into a lecture about Stari Grčka (Ancient Greece) and it's intellectual fathers- Platom, Herodot and Homer among the rest and I have the notes to prove I was following along. So began a unique opportunity for me to learn the Bosnian language through listening in on a normal junior high class in nearby Hadžiči, Bosnia. I'm just a kid again.


Mirsad and I met on the always crowded tramway earlier during the week. Then I didn't notice that he is missing his right-hand thumb but one enthusiastic handshake this weekend proved his loss. Mirsad is 26 and a first year Journalism student at Sarajevo University. Mirsad is also from Srebrenica, a place where Tragedy happened. On Saturday night I heard one of Tragedy's many stories.

We met that night to hang out and help me learn Bosnian through normal conversation. 'It' came up rather quickly that Mirsad has lost a lot. His father and grandfather were murdered during the siege and overthrow of Srebrenica in 1995 during the Bosnian conflict. Mirsad was just ten years old when neighbors, I think he said his father and grandfather, were shot before his eyes and his thumb was shot off by a malicious Serb bullet. His family is broken and his story has charred pages. My heart broke for Mirsad as he simplistically told me his story as I was able to understand it. I truly thank him for befriending me and being open to hang out and help me with his language and moreso his vulnerability so that I can see into a Bosnian heart.

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