March entering Vienna

March entering Vienna
Civil March for Aleppo entering Vienna

Friday, March 24, 2017

Civil March for Aleppo - DAY 88 - Tears & chocolate

The man took his car to reach the little shop before us. From a distance, we could see him waiting for the Civil March outside the food store, his hands full of chocolate bars. We, the March, then decided to make a stop while he was distributing his presents among us. 15, 20, maybe more than 30 tablets were offered by him. We were very grateful and thanked him by shaking hands or hugging him. Once his hands were empty, he looked at us, left the place and discreetly started to cry while going back to his car. Who was this man? We will learn later that next to the shop was a detention center held by Serbs militiamen. Many locals got murdered there. The day before, we passed by Omarska. Omarska and its concentration camp from which a British journalist team revealed the existence in 1992. It would take us another 10 days to reach the Bosnian capital, ten days during which we would see destroyed houses next to brand news ones, fancy cars on the road among wrecks. We would pass by Banja Luka, Travnik, Kiseljak where heavy fights took place during the war. From the Marchers, only a few were aware of this, the oldest one like me. By paying attention to memorials and graves which paved our road, some probably would realized that most of the victims were younger than them.
The March entered Sarajevo the second day of spring, gathered on Vrbanja bridge and threw fake rose leaves on the river in memory of all the victims of the siege. Then, in front of the eternal flame, they removed their shoes, stepped barefoot in a bucket of red paint and walked on a strip of paper towards Sebilj leaving behind them red footprints. A way to commemorate the refugees from Syria, leaving their place, sometimes with no shoes, trying to escape the bloodshed that started there 6 years ago. At the old city main square, the March gathered with their white flags while Omar Blentic, a  professional local pianist began to play the Adagio in d minor of J.S. Bach. Ahmad, our Syrian friend from Aleppo later shared some touching words with the public. Anna did so as well, making the link between war in Bosnia and war in Syria. It was a very touching afternoon of shared emotion, the same emotion I felt 10 days before.
I still wonder who was this man with his chocolate bars in Piskavica. I saw his face a last time through the windscreen of his car, crying while driving back into the shadow of war. Probably the first time I got tears in my eyes while eating chocolate.

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