It was pouring as I stumbled back, drunk and exhausted, towards Nedjarići. The rain didn’t seem to stop the stray dogs. They were having their usual orgy, defiling the construction site I hadn’t seen operating since I had been in Sarajevo. Who will it house? The youth were leaving, and the siege generation wasn’t getting any better. Maybe it was financed on a whim. I doubt it matters all that much whether it fails or succeeds, as long as the oil money flows in. None of this had much effect on my mood. The kiosk was still open, and after the usual run around with the attendant, Haris, who functioned with war torn clubs for hands, the chains were removed from the beer fridge.
The next morning I woke up to Sabina’s phones alarm. Apparently, she set it with the Muezzin which echoed as I tripped over the empties, ending any idea of leaving without the awkward morning goodbyes. Neither she nor I wanted anyone else in our group to know we were fucking. I told her my bad, as I closed the door.
It was rare to come back to my room without any beer and if didn’t settle I would vomit. So, I went about the dumb drag down to the nearest shop to refuel. Thankfully, departure was being held up by the two Turkish girls. It would be a long ride to Banja Luka. I didn’t need to come down yet.
Passing through the smoke filled lobby people were gathered around watching a failed coup, I guess there would be none of that Gülen shit in Turkey for the time being. At the checkout desk waited your typical Saudi nuclear family; a man, his three wives, and their 12 kids. The little boys were all wearing Messi jerseys, and the little girls donning their cute hijabi training wheels, yet to go full beekeeper and pick up the burqa.
Outside, the fog lingered above the mortar marked edifices of yesteryear’s Yugoslavia. The uniformly block buildings were decorated by the ornaments of laundry and leaking bullet holes that oozed streaks like running mascara. Because of both the weekend and the weather, few from the neighborhood ventured out.
Edin, a teenaged corn vendor, was unpacking his stand from the trunk of his grandfather’s Yugo. It appeared today he would be without his usual competition; a profusely bearded Islamist caricature whose judging gaze I tended to welcome in my intoxication.
I had heard locals talk about the recent reversion back to faith. A culture war was brewing between secular Bosniaks who identified as Muslim but didn’t give a shit about strict adherence, against the Islamist who saw doctrine as the end- all be- all. What had been taboo expressions of faith, such as the hijab, were now commonplace, even amongst the youth. The former drunks were now sober and bearded, donning halal skullcaps and Capri pants in the way of the prophet.
The locals might tell you this came from their new Arab neighbors. The ones from the gulf that financed the mujahideen during the war; Saudi Salafist that built mega mosques and Qatari playboys bathed in cologne. The zealous among them, the true believers, would often be linked to a collection of black burqaed ghosts, shadowing their Versace dressed master. I wondered what the city seemed to them through the slits, with its bare skin ads and alcohol. How did they see the unaccompanied women, the buxom Bosnians with their bouncy boobs of a bread diet? Or was this part of the plan? A foothold in the heathen continent they would eventually bring to Allah. I saw a platoon of those suffocated women leaving Victoria Secret, their bags presumably full of lingerie, submitting their instincts into the confines of Sharia. Bin Laden had a bunch of porn with him when he was shot by Seal Team Six; perhaps he could have shed light on the paradox.
After the usual dance at the kiosk, I purchased five 18 oz. beers that would last me the ride up to Banja Luka.
From there I decided on corn for breakfast. Edin had noticed his corner competition had failed to show up. I joked that maybe he had gone to Syria, and after some brief consideration the young vendor concluded, “Yeah maybe, but someone just replace him.”
I stumbled back thinking how beautifully the fog crowned this dreary city.