After the death of Tito, the former Yugoslavia a collective of republics put together after World War 2 , slowly fell into conflict Slovenia and Croatia called for decentralization then declared independence on June 25th 1991 and by 1992 the ethnic cleansing by Serb forces began, with this brutal backdrop Bora Balaj has crafted a story of Kosovo in a crisis, a struggle for the liberation of Albanians soon to be driven out by conflict, threats, rape and genocide.
With a bright confidence in words and language a story told from the heart about Lola a bride to be of the summer, to her promised Flamur, found with the conflict resonating by the Serbian presence that she would be swallowed up and suffocated. Seeing monsters where coming and at the hands of these monsters Albanian women would feel indignation, humiliation and a lasting pain of defilement.
The ineffective peacekeepers could not protect the population, we have a love story, a war story, emigration and being reconciled it punches in the gut being a conflict of recent memory to a lot of people, filling news channels with horrific images.
I read this book and to me it resonated deeply with complex emotions and a sense of completion, Bora Balaj gives us something rooted in truth a truth many do not want to face but it is there part of our history and dna. Kosovo a land of its own identity provides the stage for this to play out, for us as almost voyeurs to look into the love, the life, of a world unsure and distorted by war. Lola loved Flamur the kindling flame of love lit, but it was so uncertain in so many ways, that escape was the only option torn from home and country, each path Lola is taking , circular navigating one route back
Finding peace will be hard, being able to love again harder.
On the way in New York, in the midst of all the crowds of people who came from all over the world, as if presenting the color and other features of the countries they came from, I was making an almost routine move, I noticed a red handkerchief to a clothing store. It is the time of Halloween, an old ritual, traditional from the ancient beliefs, they do it in many countries to remember the spirits, the way of life, and as it wants the tradition the streets are filled with people, with figures and clothes that imitate a past. What made me think of this red cloth, at a time when I am trying to forget it. Forgetting for some things is salvation, not for all. April 1999 in Kosovo is not forgotten. March, April to June, are the months of collective memory of my people. I thought that, to be away from the country, the events of the war would take me away. Now I realized that what the soul catches, does not leave the mind.
I say with my mind, all these people, each has his own thoughts, they have their worries, they have desires and intentions from where they come, and where they go. Someone makes their own routine, others explore beautiful design, and there are those who make cry for the past. Everyone is here for a purpose, and they intend to walk according to the plans they have, as long as I see myself statue, with body only as an unusable object. Maybe, only my heart has a black hole, which only I see? If I knew why I was here, I would be happy. I am not here because I love myself, I am imitating something that will return my happiness for a single moment. I have nothing to expect, nor does anyone expect me. Or, I will wait all my life, my vanity. The city where I am staying, New York, offers opportunities for everything a person needs. There are many names for it, – the city of dreams, – of opportunities, – of diversity, – of beauty, – of science and culture. In a sentence of all. These sights, this beautiful color, cannot signal my silence. The thought of the silence of crime speaks only to me. I left my country of birth, and I can never say I do not love it. I do not love only the events that happened, the ones that break my heart. They are wiping my body with wounds and a sign that I do not know who left it and who rinsed it. I left body stains there in Kosovo, during the war. I left my love. I left the graves of my family, of the martyred brothers, who brought me freedom. I also left Freedom. I also left the blood that came out of my body violently. Where I do not know how I will return. Where I was raped. I took the violence in my stained body and I am still silent.