gypsies, roma, kosovo

"She Will Die"

Uncertain whether I would ever see her again alive, I managed to take this rather
desperate picture of Remzija in the early morning before leaving

Dawn rises over the swamp.  I still know nothing about what the sisters had told each other. Remzija comes into the room where I am sleeping. She whispers a few, basic words in German, telling me that Kadri does not know she speaks that language. She is ready to escape. And she shows me a great bloodstain on the wall where he had beaten her.   

Reska had already figured out the whole situation, but I was still uncertain whether to believe her or not. Actually, this was a little unfair on my part: although Reska easily gets lost when trying to deal with institutions, her ideas are very clear indeed when it comes to human relations. 

Kadri takes us proudly on his car to find a coffee grinder for the girls' mother, something impossible to get in Italy. And while I talk with him, Reska - seated behind - deftly puts her hand into a woman's purse with cosmetics and condoms for Kadri's "worker." We go back home, with the grinder and a cassette of Albanian war songs.  

Reska and I leave. We say goodbye to everybody. We are going back to Ljubljana, we tell them. Kadri, in German, tells me loudly that they are a happy family, that I could see it for myself. And I - after having walked with my muddy shoes through his house - answer that I am glad to see how well off they all are. 

Reska and I are now alone, and I realize how difficult it is to find parking space for an invalid who cannot walk long distances. We need to look for help, but I don't know the languages, and I am in the company of a dark Romni with an unmistakably Serbian accent.  

We go to the Italian consulate to ask for advice. They politely send us to the Croatian police. As we go towards the car, Reska falls on the ground from tiredness and stress. A sad irony - if Yugoslavia had had obligatory vaccination, she would have had her sister's healthy body; but if she had had her sister's healthy body, she would perhaps have suffered her sister's fate as well.  

The main office of the police treats us kindly, but sends us to the district police office.   

At the district police office, I speak in English with a cold-eyed policeman. And he answers to Reska in Croatian. The police never intervene when children are involved. Besides, these silly rows between husband and wife... in any case, Reska can go to the social services, and if they authorize, the police will act. 

Social services: a shabby building, go to room number seven, room number seven is closed, try room number five, in room number five they raise their shoulders, say no, come back on Monday... but on Monday, we have to be in Italy. Well then, we don't know what to say, we are sorry. 

That's all. Nothing else to be done. "So Remzija will die", says Reska. Remzija had sworn to kill herself rather than to sell her body. The sky over Zagreb was very grey at that moment.   


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