Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Holy Innocents

The soldiers were under orders to go into the town and kill. Children were snatched out of the hands of their mothers. A boy was torn out of the arms of his mother.  She screamed for help. The soldiers dragged her by the hair and beat her to the ground.  The boy lay on the ground on his left side crying out for his mother. And then he was silent forevermore.  

The soldiers found another boy.  The mother sat on the ground and her young son sat beside her.  The young boy was placed on his mother's lap.  The young boy was killed.  His head was cut off.  His body remained on his mother's lap.  The soldier stuck his knife into the boy's head and showed it to everyone.  The soldiers forced the mother to drink her son's blood.  Panic broke out throughout the town.

A pregnant woman was slaughtered.  The soldiers stabbed her stomach,  cut her open and took two small children out of her stomach and beat them to death on the ground. 

A baby cried and the soldiers took the child and cut his throat. A woman screamed "Leave her, she is only nine years old!" The screaming suddenly stopped.

Boys were taken away.  Girls were raped.  A woman was held down while a soldier reached up inside her and tore out her womb.  The  woman lived. For a little while.

Is this a description of what happened in Bethlehem long ago during the butchery ordered by King Herod - the event we remember during the feast of the Holy Innocents?  No, it is not. These acts were committed about two thousand years later by Serbian forces in July 1995 in Srebrenica.  

It seemed as though lifetimes passed while she crawled on her belly across the ground away from the town. Finally when she reached the cover of the forest she continued to keep low even in the shadows of the night. She was cold and alone.  She did not know where her mother was.  She had seen her father and her brothers taken away.  She did not think she would ever see any of them again.  Still she went on.  She hid by day and crept furtively through the forest by night.  When she heard the sound of voices she hid as only a nine year old girl could hide.  

The first part of this story is paraphrased slightly from an article in the November 2010 Srebrenica Genocide Blog but the scenes agree too closely for comfort with the story she told me. 

No one found her and eventually she found her way to friendly faces and friendly voices.  Somehow, in almost a blur, she found her way to America.  Later, here she met and married a close friend of mine.  I first knew she was from Srebrenica on Badnjak (Christmas Eve) a few years ago when our glasses were filled with wine. I said "Živio!" and she responded in like manner.  After a few pozdravs I knew almost as much of this story as I have told you.  I saw her not long ago at a funeral and I think of her often at this time of year. We do not speak of these matters anymore.  The pain is much too present and intense. 

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

David Byler a.k.a. Canovals

7 siječanj 2014

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