Happy Monday! This week’s post is continuing on in my memoir with the next visit from Serbian soldiers resulting in them taking away my car. Read on, and as always comments, shares, likes are appreciated! 🙂
The knock on my door froze blood in my veins. While I glanced through the curtains, two men were standing at my front door. A tall slender man with long oily hair in civilian clothes and no visible weapons was banging the door with his fist. He was accompanied by a short, wide-shouldered man with clean black hair. I couldn’t see their faces very well. As the tall man increased frequency and volume of his banging, I sensed trouble, and opened the door.
The short man turned his almost rectangular face with deep, dark owl’s eyes toward me. He tried to move the corners of his thin lips into a smile and mumbled, “We are looking for Mrs. Softic. Oh, oh, I recognize you. You are Mrs. Softic.”
The tall man climbed one front house step biting his lower lip. A beard partially covered the yellow skin stretched tight across the bones of his face. I was shifting my glance from one face to the other in the hope of figuring out who they were and why they had come to my house.
“Mrs. Softic, I don’t know how to explain the reason for our visit. It isn’t easy to explain, but you are a smart woman, and you’ll understand.” The short man paused, and his lips danced into a smile. “You know the war is going on. You can imagine soldiers’ lives. We are safe here with our families while they are defending us in a war zone.” He paused. “Our soldiers need cars to come home to visit their families. The army has ordered us to take your car for their needs. Is your car in the garage?”
I thought of a Petar Kocic, a Bosnian satirist who wrote about the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia. In the play, David Shtrbac, the police came several times to collect excessive taxes from David, a poor farmer. Because David could not pay each time the police came, they took one of David’s animals, beginning with his valuable cow. Each time David thanked the “merciful emperor” for relieving him of the burden of caring for the animals. Now I was about to lose my car, and suddenly I felt like David, but I wisely held my tongue.
“Give us the key. We will write a document stating that we took your car,” said the tall man.
“I’ll give you the key, but I’ll need to keep the car battery. We connect the battery to our radio so that we can hear the news. Bring another battery and take the car,” I said politely.
“What are you saying? Are you joking with us? Do you want me to destroy your entire house and show you how we make jokes?” The tall man screamed crazily, violating my personal space. “Your husband is fighting Serbs in Sarajevo or Zenica, and you are joking with us, with our army?”
I took a few steps back, and the short man came between us. “Wait, wait, both of you wait!” He faced his friend and said, “Mrs. Softic didn’t mean to keep the battery. We cannot drive the car without the battery. She knows that.”
Suddenly he returned to me and said, “Mrs. Softic, my friend came from the war zone last night. He wanted to come alone to take your car. He is tired, and he cannot control himself. That is why I came with him. I don’t want to see anything bad happen here. We don’t need that. You understand the situation here.”
“Let me show her,” the tall man roared. “She is like a turkey gobbling in a big house. My parents are in the basement. She is playing games with the battery. She must get off Serb territory! She must go where other balijas (very rude name for Muslims) are!” The tall man shouted.
“Mrs. Softic, give us the key and the battery, I don’t know how long I will be able to restrain this man. I told you…” he said, making the sign for a crazy man and tilting his head and eyes at his tall companion.
I went to the house, grabbed the key and the battery, and handed them over. The tall man moved a cigarette from his shaking hand to his thick lips and grabbed the battery. The short man took the key. I opened the garage door and waited outside. I heard their voices for a few minutes, and then the sound of the engine starting. The car slowly backed out of the garage, turned onto the street, and disappeared.
My heart tightened as I looked into the empty garage. It seemed horrible with all the holes in the door, a gigantic hole in the wall, and empty darkness inside.