Two Days in Greda by Táňa Ranisavićová
My brother, mother and I went to the hills of Bosnia.
She wanted to see us for the last time.
“She died at 7 a.m.” said cousin Dragan when we got there in the evening.
We went to her room to see her.
She was tiny and skinny and yellow, with no teeth.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
All the night, her children, grandchildren and many other people I didn’t know
Were sitting in the kitchen, smoking, drinking coffee and rakija,
Talking about her life, laughing and crying and hugging me.
The next morning, women were cooking and men were making a coffin outside.
They couldn’t get it upstairs
So her son took her out in his arms
And laid her into the coffin.
We were standing in the sun, sweating, clutching long candles.
The hot wax was flowing on our hands.
I was looking at the hills under the village, divided by a deep canyon,
Trembling in the rhythm of the nails being hammered in.
Her daughters were singing songs about her.
We followed the tractor with the coffin
Up the hill to the cemetery.
Many new graves were there.
Next to the hole in the ground some bones and a skull were laid.
Nobody knew whose they used to be.
Cousin Riste offered a shot of rakija to everyone.
Men put the coffin into the hole and threw the bones back in.
While they were covering it with soil,
The cries and songs of the women didn’t stop
And they kept interrupting the priest’s speech.
The men poured a few bottles of rakija all over the ground.
My aunts lay down on the grave, crying.
“Oh mother, you gave me my life, why are you leaving me?”
Their songs had never been louder.
In the afternoon, my cousins and I took a walk
In the meadows outside the village.
They assured me that the mine fields were on the other side of the hill.
That night, a strong earthquake woke me up.
It didn’t bother me and I fell asleep again.
When I came home,
There was nothing of what I had left there
When I went to the hills of Bosnia.