Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lessons from Sarajevo

In Saturday's Globe, Goran Simic, who's new collection of poetry Sunrise in the Eyes of the Snowman we will be releasing in late October, muses on the plight of the Tamil refugees.

Back in my hometown to wash the family gravestone and meet friends, mostly writers, who never left Sarajevo, I heard a joke from the time of the siege, when the famous tunnel under the airport runway was the only way to escape the embattled city.

In the middle of the tunnel, two brothers heading in opposite directions bump into one another. They immediately begin shouting the same words: “Where the hell are you going? There is nothing there.”

I still feel the weight of that question mark.

As I watch the news about the Tamil refugee claimants touching shore in Vancouver, I think of the Siege of Sarajevo, which lasted longer than the Siege of Leningrad. Though every survivor has the right to tell his own stories, I published some on behalf of the 10,000 who were killed – by the daily barrages of sniper bullets, by grenades, by hunger. Even I was killed once – when the newspaper published my name on the list of victims of the 1992 bombing of the city.

For the rest of the article, please go here.

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