I am writing this on a Sunday 19th July 2020. What a year this has been so far. The whole world on the lockdown because of a killer virus COVID19 nobody seems to know anything about.
Everywhere you go you can hear people saying what a difficult times we are going through, often followed by, we are in this together.
Although my personal life hasn’t changed much by this new developed situation I deeply feel for the people badly affected. People who got infected and really sick, people who lost their loved ones, people who were laid off and also people who just find it hard to deal with this new way of living.
Sadly, there are many of us for whom this crisis is not the first or the worst one we’ve even been through.
24th March 1999 was just an ordinary day in former Yugoslavia. That evening I was watching TV with my mum when all of the sudden unfamiliar sounds broke from the skies and our house started shaking. Next my father was running around yelling – ‘what’s going on‘– and I could see our cats hissing and expressing some weird behaviour. Then, our programme abruptly stopped and the TV presenter delivered unreal news.
Good evening Dear viewers, around 8 o’clock this evening the enemy planes of aggressor NATO forces carried out the first rocket attacks on our country.
And just like that, over night, our small country became the center of attention of the whole world. The biggest international news channels were reporting about the conflict, bad politics and claimed that the bombing operation, by the way called Nobel Anvil had only one goal and that was to protect the innocent and preserve peace.
The next day on 25th March 1999 the whole country was learning about the air alert sirens. When you hear the sound of sirens for sixty seconds leave your house as soon as possible. Before you leave turn off the lights, electricity and gas supplies, open the windows, draw the curtains and close the shutters. Take with you food, water, medication, personal documents, hygiene accessories, money, torch and a blanket. Calmly and without panic go to the nearest shelter.
My mum, my ten year old son and I spent the first week in our neighbour’s basement. My father and my brother refused to leave our house. After sleeping in someone else’s basement for a week we decided to return home and take our chances. The three of us slept in the same bed. I was holding my son and my mum was holding me and we only had one wish. If we were going to die, to die together.
The Nobel Anvil operation continued every day for seventy eight days. And even though the NATO claimed that only military targets were bombed very soon the whole country was in the dark. All hydroelectric power plants were damaged. The telecommunication tower that stood on the mountain Avala near Belgrade for thirty four years and was the symbol and pride of the town, was demolished, the TV station in the center of Belgrade was bombed and sixteen innocent people killed and the three year old Milica who died sitting on her potty when the shards of NATO bombs broke the window and hit her, became just another collateral damage.
During seventy eight days of bombing The Nobel Anvil killed two thousand and six hundred innocent people, damaged infrastructure, hospitals, schools, media houses, cultural monuments and demolished most of the bridges. Estimated damage that the country suffered was up to one hundred billion American dollars.
The people who lost their loved ones will never recover and lives of the rest of the survivors will never be the same.
And I live in my own bubble and pray every day for the day to come when every single one of us would realise that only unconditional love for each other will bring eternal peace.
Could it be that COVID19 is trying to teach us that?