While the history teacher passionately lectured about bravery of partisans led by Tito in their just war against Nazi Germany, my c1lassmate was busy drawing on his part of the desk. Well, I heard so much about the late president Tito and appreciated everything he did for us, but I was more interested in my friend's drawing. Allen did not know English, but lately he would draw pictures of roses and revolvers, and above that he would write "Guns and Roses". He liked the Californian bend although I was pretty much sure he could not understand much what they were singing about. The American rock and roll was the label for new generation of a urban youth in Yugoslavia in the time in which Europe soon would leave behind the period of iron Curtain.
"We have to remember that Tito was strong enough to save our country from the influence of Soviet Bolshevik Dictatorship regime, but at the same time he managed to keep Yugoslavia away from an unjust capitalistic system in Western Europe,” the teacher rose his voice and sounded like he was talking to soldiers not 12 years old school kids. The ringing of the school bell stopped the teacher's speech and corrupted the silence that powerfully ruled the classroom.
"Tito was a good man", Allen said while putting his book in the bag. "If he was not you would not be able to wear that "Guns and Roses" t-shirt." I replied hoping that my joke would put a smile on my friend's face. Allen was proud because of the fact that his cousin found his place in the history book as one of those heroes who died for freedom. Well I knew that my grandfather fought in the Second World War, but I was glad he was not mentioned in the book; I figured that most of the war heroes who died in the battles deserved a couple lines in the thick history book. My grandfather was alive and every summer I spent one month in the village that he lived in with my grandmother.
When the sun disappeared behind the hills covered with pine trees, the night, like a thief, slowly entered the valley in which the small village found its place. From the top of the hills houses with dark red roofs looked as the mushrooms spread all around the valley. The small road with lots of holes full of yellow water left after the rain snaked through the village. The wooden bridge crossed the river that would furiously run from the top of the mountains, but in the valley the river was peacefully flowing. The fresh air brought by the wind from the pine trees cooled the summer nights. The barking of dogs disturbed the silence that came over the village with first dusk. I always could distinguish the barking of my grandfather's dogs.
My grandfather was a hunter, and I could listen his stories all night long. My grandfather and I were usually sitting in front of the house on the wooden bench. While he told the story about hunting bears, the small white clouds emerged from his cigarette, which I by the way tried to smoke while hiding behind the stable, slowly vanished in the night. My ears as the most sophisticated receptors would carefully capture every word that came from my grandpa mouth while his green eyes looked somewhere beyond the hills. For the moment he turned toward me and gently put his hand on my head. "Dalibor, do not be scared of animals, they would never attack you unless you give them a damn good reason."
He turned back to the hills and with a sigh said, "We as humans do not need a particular reason for hurting each other."
"Grandpa, I saw the movie about the Grisly and that bear killed the other animals and people for no reason."
He was quiet for a minute, and I thought that I left him with no answer.
"You are a smart kid, and one day you will learn to distinguish a movie from the real life", my grandpa said while getting up from the bench. "It is too late and we have to get up early tomorrow. I will take you to the woods and if we get lucky enough you will see many animals, but of course I will not be able to show you a grisly since he lives in North America and he is probably busy making some new movies."
That night I strongly believed that my grandpa was the biggest hero even bigger that those about whom I red in the history book. The weather in the valley was unpredictable and it could change in blink of an eye, but the storm that appeared one night would not be the biggest change that I experienced that summer.
There was not a spot or place in the house or around it that I did not explore during that one month in the summer, and only the wooden cabinet where my grandpa kept the hunting guns was a forbidden place. Just like for any young boy the most banned place worked as a magnet. One day, grandpa took the guns while the cabinet was left open. In the corner of cabinet were laying some old books whose titles were cover with a dust. As soon I opened the book a photo fell on the floor. On the old photo were men with guns, but that was not hunting guns, and I recognized their uniforms.
were the war criminals and the betrayers who fought against partisans
who were the just fighters”. This sentence that I heard so many times in the school rang in my head while I looked at the picture of my grandfather in black uniform. I put the picture back in the book and ran out from the house. I ran like the biggest grisly was behind my back, I ran with a wish to escape from the truth that I just find out, and I ran with not knowing where I was heading to. I stopped on the wooden bridge and look at the river. I hated this place, I hated the teacher, the history, and I hated my grandfather. Since then I never saw my grandpa again, I saw the man who just happened to be the father of my mother . My friends expected new stories that my grandpa had told me, but I did not tell any.
Many years later while I was sitting with friends in a bar smoking a cigarette, "Another Brick In The Wall" one of the most famous songs by Pink Floyd played on the juke box. I understood every word especially the part when he sings " Hey teacher leave them kids alone." For me, the song was no longer a label for the new youth in Yugoslavia that just left behind the civil war in which some new partisans and Chetniks tried to deserve a couple of lines in the history book. Today, I hate war movies, cannot stand warm beer, but I know that I always loved my grandpa.