The Kosovo Diary

Today is the ninth of November 2009. On the TV screen, under the umbrella, Lech Walesa is bringing down the first domino of the improvised Berlin wall. Various important people are passing in front of my eyes, those who bring up and tear down the walls. How have they influenced my world?

To the Documentary film festival in Prizren, I came with a regular bus line. Prizren seemed much farther away than a couple of hours of travel, the border much higher than the height of the security ramp on the border-crossing. That was the ground for which it has many times been said that it was “ours”, but also that I am not welcomed there. The war torn apart Serbian and Kosovar nation, it brought a cleavage between me and people my age who live there. Today, the war is over, but we are separated by the international military forces which protects us from one another.

When the plains turned into mountains, the feel of uncertainty grew. Every day I have been hearing in the news about Kosovo, conflicts, religious differences. However big the fear was, my wish to go was stronger. I would not believe that boundaries are insuperable.

The bus was late. The city has already been slipped into darkness. In a group of people, I have noticed a worried face. The young man approached and asked me if I am the girl from Belgrade. His face had the same feel of anxiety mine had. When I nodded, he presented himself. His name is Besart, Besart Lumi. He spoke to me a little uneasiness, English not being his mother-tongue, obviously wanting to explain everything as good as possible and with strange forwardness.

We spent hours on film projections, walking and sightseeing. We held long, tiring conversations about places to go out in our cities, about exhibits, concerts, universities in Pristina. They wanted to come to the Exit festival which takes place in the largest city of northern Serbian province Novi Sad in mid-July. They could not come as Serbian government does not recognize the documents they have. Someone built up a wall there too. He spoke to me about his work in a Non-government organization and street actions they conducted. His energy and wish to influence people were stronger that the weariness of closed spaces. He was happy for the success of every performance, no matter how small it was, and was eager for change which would influence the whole society. While we were, with our visit, tearing down religious and national stereotypes, in me one other barrier fell apart. I knew that it was easy to crush brick walls, if the people had, before, crushed them in themselves. The needles of string-wires stab our hearts and bloody traces are left behind those who attempt to jump over the wall.

I was wrapped in a string-wire, encircled by blocks of hard, thick wall. Through its holes, I can see other people. Their faces approach the cracks in the wall, trying to see prisoners from the other side. To all of those, who with their nails scratch pieces of cement, who scrape the microscopic particles of dust hurting the wall, whose hands peek over the wall, to all of them I give the leading role of creating my world, because that is the world I want to live in.

People like Besart I find great. Their greatness is not in the minutes of prime-time TV program, nor in the political functions that they are put to. It lies in that will for change, in the hope of the existence of something better. Those people bring down the boundaries, change things, imagine, create, inspire.

Besart cleaned pieces of dust, removed my fear. And nothing happened, nothing worthy of breaking news, but still, one wall fell.  And that meant the world for us.

Marijana Petrovic