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A Tale of Romeo & Juliet ……

Emina by Alex Šantić

Emina by Alex Šantić

Many centuries ago, it was a tradition for men to go for a turkish bath from time to time. This was where men would gather in a relaxed ambience to exchange small talk. This area was called Hamam.

Then, one young man who was returning from the Hamam, passed by the garden of the city imam (Muslim Pastor), saw the daughter of the imam. Struck by her beauty, he wrote a poem which later made him a famous poet.

Here is my humble translation of the poem, hope you like it.

At dusk, while returning from the warmth of the Hamam,

I passed by the garden of the old city Imam.

There in the garden, Under the shade of the jasmine tree,

A pitcher in her hand stood beautiful Emina.

 

What Beauty! I could swear by Imam!

That even the sultan would not be embarrass to have her as his wife.

The way she moved with the gentle sway of her shoulders,

Not even the Hodja’s (Muslim Holy man) amulet could save me.

I salaamed her agreeably despite by my faith. (For the young man was a Christian but he greeted in her faith, which is Muslim.)

She didn’t want to hear me, the beautiful Emina.

Instead, down the garden She went,

With her silver pitcher to scoop out water for the blossoms.

Breeze blew down the tree onto her lovely shoulders,

Unravelling her braided plait;

Causing the hyacinth scent from her washed hair to waft gently by

And struck me suddenly with a sense of dizziness and giddiness.

I swear to God I almost fell,

But still Emina went about impervious.

Only to look at me with askance. (For it was not done for young man to behave so forward with young ladies,)

Uncaring that I could expire from my tumultuous feelings for her.

This young man who later on became a famous poet because of this poem was called Aleksa Šantić

So if you passed by the streets of Mostar. You can see the statue of him and the statue of Emina too.

Because of the diversity of religions in Bosnia & Herzegovina, it is not unknown for young people to fall in love with one who is from different religion. However, in those times, it was sadly not encouraged to marry outside faith.

The Battle of Neretva ….

The battle @ River Neretva

The battle @ River Neretva

It was the winter of 1943….

Sounds of heavy artillery filled the air….,

tankers rolling closer and fighter planes roaring and swooped past above firing rapidly …

150 000 Nazi army was approaching, like an impenetrable wall slowly closing in on the 12,000 Partisan soldiers.

The Partisan soldiers were exhausted and many were wounded. In addition, typhoid disease struck, driving some to madness. Forced to the edge of this very area….

There was a bridge …. but opposite at the other end, 15,000 Chetniks and Fascists were approaching as well. The Partisan Army destroyed the bridge to prevent this force from approaching via this side.

With the bridge broken, the Fascists and Chetniks relaxed, thinking that it would be a matter of time as the Partisans were now surrounded by the Nazis with no other way out.

In the last moment of hope, a brilliant idea was hatched. To create diversions, many men were sent to battle with guns a blazing towards the Nazis, while a meager number of 250 men, including the wounded, clambered down the steep hill, built a makeshift bridge down the ravine.

The Chetniks and Fascists were caught by surprise. That day, 250 soldiers with many wounded amongst them were able to break through a strong force of 15,000.

One of the many factors which lead to the victory of the allies against the Nazis was that substantial manpower, i.e. 150 000, were used actually to try to take down this smaller Partisan force.

A moment of great ingenuity and heroism captured and frozen in time by this plaque that you will be able to see when you pass by. The inscription on the plaque translated means ” No wounded to be left behind – Tito”

Extreme courage and heroism, glimpse of this quality of humanity rare but when appear, shines through ages….

NB:

Nazis, Chetniks and Fascists are similar in that it is a propaganda with extremists view. Usually lead by a small group of intellectuals and followed by many people who were caught in the whirlpool of desperate situations, circumstances and promises of better economic times. Those who spread these ideas and hatred are dangerous, irregardless of race and nationality and it is extremely important to note that pegging these people as a nation because of a group would be like the kettle calling the pot black, in my humble opinion. It is with hope that education can elevate us above such archaic ideas, though not easy in difficult times. As you travel or wherever you live, one has to be vigilant and at the same time be open minded.

For those who are unfamiliar with the terms: ‘Chetniks’, ‘Ustasha’ or ‘Fascism” :

  • Chetniks was a movement started by Serbian leader, Steven Moljevic, believing that “Serbs should not repeat the mistakes of World War 1 by failing to define the borders of Serbia, proposed that at the end of World War II, Serbs should take control of all territories to which they lay claim, and from that position negotiate the form of federal organized Yugoslavia… plan required the relocation of non-Serbs from Serb-controlled territories and other shifts of populations. He produced a document, Homogeneous Serbia, which articulate these notions.” – Wikipedia.
  • Fascism is best describe by Merriam Webster as

” Philosophy of Government that stresses the primacy and glory of the state, unquestioning obedience to its leader, subordination of the individual’s will to the state’s authority, and harsh suppression of dissent. Martial virtues are celebrated, while liberal and democratic  values are disparaged.

Fascism arose during the 1920s and ’30s partly out of fear of the rising power of the working classes;

The leaders of the fascist governments of Italy (1922-43), Germany (1933-43), and Spain (1939-75)- Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco,-were portrayed to their publics as embodiment of the strength and resolve necessary to rescue their nations from political and economic chaos.

Japanese fascists (1936-45) fostered belief in the uniqueness of the Japanese spirit and taught subordination to the state and personal sacrifice”

  • “Ustaše, also known as ‘UStashe’, ‘Ustashas’, a Croatian Revolutionary Movement, between 1929 and 1945, … ideology blend of Fascism and Ultra-conservatism” – Wikipedia.

Crimson gold and deep red, colors of pomegranates ….

 

Pomegranate Juice Stand

One of our favorite fruits, locally produced and bursting with flavours. Refreshing and a naturally sweet thirst quencher, one is fortunate during autumn season to find these juice stands in some of the main streets of larger cities, such as Mostar and Sarajevo.

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