Victim Of War

They say that the darkest hour is that before dawn. That the oppressors will one day meet their match among the very people they oppress. They say that justice will be done upon every man - the tyrant and the scapegoat. They say that no one will escape the gaze of Lady Justice, that they will be held accountable for their lies. They say.

But for Edin, all this was a blatant lie.

They say that the darkest hour is that before dawn. That the oppressors will one day meet their match among the very people they oppress. They say that justice will be done upon every man - the tyrant and the scapegoat. They say that no one will escape the gaze of Lady Justice, that they will be held accountable for their lies. They say.

 

But for Edin, all this was a blatant lie.

 

What of the innocent victims, who suffer transgression in silence, their protests stifled by the transgressors? What of the sinless sufferers, who are quelled from telling their tale, who are denied a chance to bring their oppressors to light, all because the will of the world is against them?

 

An earsplitting clang aroused Edin from his reverie. He briefly registered his dark, desolate surroundings - the most interesting feature being the black stone walls - then straightened himself from where he had been leaning against the wall and peered through the bars of his cell. The prisoner in the cell opposite him had just kicked the bars violently - in sheer frustration, no doubt. Edin stared at his macabre countenance, marred with anguish, then settled back against the cold wall, his mind far away from the gaunt ambiance of the prison.

 

He remembered that dismal December morning, when he had set out with his elderly mother from their refugee camp, resolving to leave Croatia once and for all. The government had promised all Serbian residents in Croatia a safe passage to the borders before a full-fledged Serb-Croatian war would begin.

 

Edin remembered travelling through the countryside, a bag full of his meagre possessions on his back, and his arm around his mother's frail shoulders. She was weakening fast; the air of Croatia, clogged with gun-smoke and looming danger, was too much for her to bear.

 

They journeyed for half the day, noses freezing in the biting cold, until they were stopped at the foot of a hill covered with army bunkers by "vojnici" - the Croatian term for "soldiers". Edin and his mother had unknowingly stepped straight into the enemy's lair.

 

Even as he recalled the president's assurance of protection, Edin could not shirk a feeling of foreboding at the sight of the haggard-looking soldiers that approached them, sporting heavy rifles. One of them stuck his hand out, demanding Edin's passport. Edin fished it out of his pocket and handed it hesitantly.

 

One look at the nationality column and the soldier was glaring at Edin with mocking, unforgiving eyes. "And what is a Serb doing in these lands, eh?" he rasped harshly. "A filthy Serb and his worthless mother?"

 

And before Edin could react to this insult, the soldier struck his mother on the head with his gun.

 

What happened after that rushed past Edin's comprehension in a maelstrom of curses, blows and gunshots. His only aim was to tear apart the soldier who had killed his mother. He pummelled and kicked as hard as he could, but was out-muscled by the others who seized his bullet-ridden arms and forcibly led him away. Never had Edin thrashed so much or shouted as much as he did at that time; he cursed the soldiers who were mercilessly laughing at him, he shouted for his mother, who lay dead on the frozen ground. He shouted at the sunless skies for justice.

 

Again, Edin shook himself out of these gory memories. He did not know how many days had passed since that day. he did not know the state of the world outside. He did not know what had become of his mother.

 

A door slammed suddenly, and Edin started. The jailer had entered.

 

"Say your prayers, filthy Serbs," he crowed, showing his yellow teeth in an evil grin. "Mass execution tomorrow." 

 

The End

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