06 June 2009

Unidentified year between 1941 and 1945

My Bosnian granddad Dimitrije (Diko) survived both world wars. This is at least in part because he had a very precise procedure for identifying the enemy.
“Don’t trust anybody who wants to take your cow,” remains the favorite saying of my father. This wisdom is passed down through the generations with the same importance as the Godfather’s formula for identifying the traitor.
Partisans were the ones who eventually took Diko’s cow. They issued a signed declaration for it and Diko kept it until the day he died.
This is where this post ought to have ended.
Then something happened.
Nothing much was ever known about Jovanka, my Bosnian grandmom. Apart from her name, surname and birth place, all we ever knew about her was her father’s first name. She disappeared in the second world war and no living person could ever give me a satisfactory description of her. For me, Jovanka was a mysterious lady vanishes.
Then something happened.
I dug into the sea of information on the internet to find a copy of that precious Diko’s certificate for his cow.
I found Diko immediately. Listed under “name of father” of one Savo, a victim at the Croatian (NDH) concentration camp Jesenovac in Yugoslavia.
Savo the Partisan, the beloved hero of my bedtime stories, who overpowered the dragons, befriended them, drank fire rakija with them and forgot, every single time, all about the princess he came to save.
I never knew.
Six names above the space allotted to Savo lie the letters of her name.

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