Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24
Like the Golden Lily, you return here each year. Why, Vedad, why?
The buildings are different now. With their quick ascent and slow decay, they shine. They gleam. They banish the memory of yesteryear’s rubble. Those jagged bits of twisted metal, plaster, and concrete strewn across the streets or blown into nearby buildings. With violin and bow in hand, what wicked delight it was to wind a path to my performance perch. Tonight I found my way to an airy fourth floor apartment.
Ah, yes! Music draws you here, but also something more.
My musical sanctuary changed, often felled under a zealot’s careless aim. Other times weight and gravity worked their slow caress. Man’s inhumanity, a tempo, against man on full display and I settled into place. The whistle preceded the boom. The boom preceded the crumble. The crumble preceded the dust. It was rhythmic, both jarring and soothing – my own sensory metronome. That is until a mortar shell whistled through the open hole before me, past my head, through the opposite hole, and landed on the street below. Boom. Crumble. Dust.
Stop, you warmongers! Stop, you destroyers! Don’t you care what night this is?
They didn’t. So, I readied my weapon. With violin beneath my chin, I drew the bow across the strings. At first, the sharp tones cleaved the air like semi-automatic bullets. Then I slowed the notes to an even pace like tank treads. Whistle. Boom. Crumble. Dust. I played as I had never played before with violin and bow working in perfect unison. The sadness and sweetness spilled forth to fill the night air with the gentle strains of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. As I finished, I noticed my metronome slowing so I launched into Carol of the Bells. As my fingers danced across the fretboard, so too did I caper about the room. The exposed plumbing made a sufficient clanging bell sound as I kicked it for effect. Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! My song finished and so did the artillery.
Yes! Let the beauty of my music lift your spirit! See the goodness in the world around you! Forgive the slights of your fellow man! Know that our differences mean nothing before the light of the Lord!
Silence. Then the floor gave way and I fell to my doom.
Why do you return here each year, Vedad?
The buildings are different now. With their quick ascent and slow decay, they shine. They gleam. They banish the memory of yesteryear’s rubble. To this day, pedestrians claim they hear violin music dancing on the wind. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen dangles at the edge of their consciousness.
Why? To prove humanity!