The one real, invisible bridge …
Words overheard in conversation with inhabitants of Mostar. They were being asked about the Old Bridge, the work of Hajrudin the builder, destroyed in 1993 during the war. They said it had been rebuilt; the opening was a huge media event. So many journalists and officials came from abroad that there was no room for the locals, so they watched the ceremony on TV.
Yes, that physical bridge, included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites, has been reconstructed. It was done with the expert financial and technical support of international organizations. However, that one real, invisible bridge still has not yet been rebuilt.
So said the Mostarians. By which they meant that it was not only the bridge between the precipitous banks of the Neretva River that had been severed, but also, and above all, the one between people.
This act was an act of violence against the connective tissue of the Mostar community, tearing apart families and neighbors, economic and spiritual links, a shared memory and shared childhoods.
It traced a deadly line of division between what is Croatian, Muslim, Serbian, Jewish, Roma …
It traced it with a hand befuddled with fear, while donning a mask of hatred, which would later become indivisible from the face.
It traced it not between different peoples, as specialists of national identity once used to do, but on the living organism of the human being.
It made a hero of the persecutor of the other, pushing interpersonal solidarity aside into the realm of taboo, with a touch of betrayal.
A person moved to help another, an instinct recognized till then as human and normal, found themselves gagged and began to be ashamed of their weakness.
Everything held in common became something alien.
The law of hospitality was trampled into the ground, counting on the younger generation's never learning of its existence.
A person by the name of Dobry (the good one)—whose likeness, hand raised toward the sun, can be found on stone stećci scattered throughout all of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has for hundreds of years been beaten into bronze by the hammers of smiths from the kujundžiluk quarter—was drowned in the Neretva.