Povodom godišnjice napada na Svetski Trgovinski Centar u Njujorku odlučila sam s vernim auditorijumom Potpalublja podeliti članak koji sam napisala ubrzo nakon tog užasnog događaja, a koji je par godina kasnije objavljen i u britanskom časopisu "Caduceus".
It didn't take long before the majority of the population shook that hypnosis off. Only seven days after the bombing started, fresh graffiti in down-town Belgrade said it all: "Brother Russians, do not fear. The Serbs are with you." I remember shaking with laughter when I read it. It was a healing sort of experience, as if all of the generated fear had finally found an outlet. "The Brother Russians" had allowed it so many times in the past, that only out of an irrational love for a kindred Orthodox Christian nation did we ever take our brotherhood seriously. So, it was not really hurting. It was a familiar feeling of disappointment that came back home and settled itself comfortably.
But what did hurt was that "The Brother Americans" not only allowed it, but planned it, started it, carried it out and perserved in it. Every bomb that fell, every explosion I heard, made me think of all the praises of their democracy I'd ever voiced. My father made sure I swallowed each and every one as bitter pills, reminding me of them morning, noon and night. Seventy-eight days under bombs marked seventy-eight stab wounds I felt all over my body, mostly in the back. Particularly hurtful was the 30th one. I was sure that the killing of 16 national TV crew members during the bombing of the national television station would raise the voices of journalists worldwide and turn the reporting upside down. The silence of them all felt like the twisting of an already stabbed knife, deepening the wound.
Then, on the 47th day, they put salt on it: they bombed the Chinese Embassy, got away with it, and made it quite clear who was the boss. To the proud, patriotic Serb that suddenly rose in me from God-knows-where, it was the utmost insult, one that called for revenge and bloodshed. But I couldn't do anything.
Many a rock I threw into the sky came back down, strangely unable to reach the planes 5 kilometers away. All those moving, sparkly dots that messed up the perfect constellations in my night sky were unreachable. Internet verbal battles one-on-one with Americans did not bring relief either, especially after "Operation Merciful Angel" entered "Phase 3" and started throwing "soft bombs" on electric power plants, leaving us in the dark for days. All I could do was curse.
And so I did. Today, I pray to God to forgive me. But back then, it was the only harm I could do, the only way I could fight, the only way out of the trap I'd been forced into. Two years, five months and eighteen days later, all I could think about was how guilty I must be for the tragedy that struck New York. Just as on March 24, 1999 I remembered each and every praise of American democracy I ever voiced, on September 11, 2001, I remembered each and every curse that left my mouth during the bombing. Surely I must have sent some kind of strange energy into the ether that generated it all. Surely I must be responsible. I wanted to put myself on trial, convict myself and turn the electric chair switch on.
It must have also been the part of some divine plan to place me on that September day in London, in the company of two Americans and one Brit. As I watched my past self now appear in them, as I heard what were once my words now coming from their mouths, the wounds re-opened, and I was hurting again. "Oh, they'll pay for it, just wait and see." An eye for an eye, a skull for a skull.
But I couldn't bring myself to tell them anything. I just sat there, crying, watching a New Yorker jumping from one of the Twin Towers, unable to discern if my tears were for him or for that three-year-old girl that died from bomb shrapnel in the bath tub of her home in Batajnica. Or for both of them, God's creatures. Deep down, however, I knew that those tears were selfish, and were rolling down my cheeks for my sake. As if they could wash the guilt away. As if they could wash all the curses pronounced. As if they could change anything. But they couldn't. I still struggle with them, usually during the nights I spend on my terrace, watching constellations with all the right numbers of sparkly dots. And I pray to God. A lot.