Writes: Milena Pavlović
Special: Journal from the Bridge that Divides
The advantage of living at the fourth floor without elevator in Kosovska Mitrovica is that I can hear from my window everything that is happening in the north side of the city. Mitrovica is quite small, located in the Ibar valley and surrounded by beautiful hills. From my window I see the Monument of Trepča, a large red house destroyed by bombing and abandoned during the war, and the Orthodox Church of St. Demetrius, completed in 2005.
From my window I hear the sirens of the police authorities (Kosovo police, KFOR, EULEX, Carabinieri, soldiers of different nationalities) that don’t invade the lives of the city, lawnmowers of my neighbors, rowdiness of kids playing basketball, and the music of the Balkan trumpets. Those last ones have become the symbol of the weekends’ early mornings. My experience told me that in Serbia where are trumpets, there is a party and, as unfortunately I am not in Guča, there is a wedding, somewhere.
This morning I hear the musicians warmed their breaths. I took my bag and I started going up the hill toward the Orthodox Church. I was not mistaken. Beside the church, I find a group of four young Roma men, with white shirts, black pants and shiny wind instruments, they prepare to welcome the bride. She arrived with her husband and all the guests. This is the beginning of a party, before the wedding in the church, incredibly bright, happy and strange in the eyes of a girl accustomed to the Italian Catholic before-wedding sobriety. The scene is set for half an hour: the small group of four Roma frees wonderful notes while the bride and the husband – not yet married – and guests dance the kolo, a traditional group dance, popular in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro.
The brother of the husband walks with a flag of Serbia on which someone hanged scarf of the bride, t-shirt of the groom and bouquet of flowers. That is the same man who fires three shots from his starter pistol and marks the beginning of the party. Someone might see this moment as the legacy of the Balkan barbarism, others as a scene from a film an Emir Kusturica’s movie, while for me it is just one of the most funny moments of my life. The father of the bride is mingling among the guests and curious onlookers, like me, offering a sip from his bottle of homemade rakija. I drink, I thank, I congratulate for the wedding. The trumpets stop their music just a few seconds before the couple and the guests enter the church. The musicians will resume their work when couple exits the church – finally married! And they will play their marvelous instruments to the late night, when all the party will be happily drank in the garden of a house decorated like this:
Living in a city affected by the war and crossed by the violence of the division does not mean evading the ordinary everyday life. Marriage, young people in the bar, old woman who opens her tobacco kiosk every day, they all witness violence that I can understand differently, in the observations of daily life, in the movements of the inhabitants of the city, in their practices, in the things that shape the borders: all human, all ordinary.