Monday, April 22, 2024

‘Ukraine is magnificence itself’:  Bosnian author Faruk Šehić’s journeys journey to Odesa

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In Odesa, I grew to become acquainted with plenty of medical phrases. They included “tourniquet”, “HALO chest seal” (a sophisticated dressing for dangerous chest wounds) and “BIG” (bone injection gun).

Such issues are of nice significance for a severely wounded soldier on the battlefield. As soon as throughout the Bosnian battle [in which the author fought], I improvised a tourniquet with my long-sleeved shirt. It stopped the bleeding of a person hit within the thigh by a 120mm grenade that had not detonated. The projectile was so small that it had handed by means of the roof, a prefab panel and two concrete slabs (the scene is described in my guide “Beneath Stress”, Pod Pritiskom). When one other man, Ćerim, was severely wounded within the chest we didn’t have a specialised patch however we did have an excellent group of paramedics, corresponding to Enes Hasanagić, in my unit. This was in the direction of the tip of the battle in 1995.

In Odesa, we delivered white waterproof physique luggage for the corpses and neoprene drysuits with boots. Part of Kherson was flooded by the Dnieper after the destruction of the Khakovka dam.

A weak point of the written phrase is that it can not totally symbolize the truth one skilled for a number of days in Ukraine. However it’s nonetheless price attempting to place that actuality into language.

As soon as over the border between Poland and Ukraine from the Korczowa-Krakovets border crossing, on the vast freeway I really feel an excellent sense of calm pervade me. A calmness that towers over us, simply because the timber towered over the highway. All the things in Ukraine appears totally different, despite the fact that Poland was comparable in so some ways. We journey quick by means of the Ukrainian panorama, and the sights rushed by at lightning velocity.

It could have been the greenery, the lushness and the dimensions of the timber, cities, villages, rivers and lakes that made me really feel extra immersed in actuality than if I had been in Berlin or Sarajevo; or it might have been that magnificence actually is within the eye of the beholder. However Ukraine is magnificence itself. It obtained into my eyes and into my reminiscence. It actually was love at first sight. We keep in a single day at a roadside inn within the small city of Zoločiv, close to Lviv. Within the night it rained like God himself had despatched it, and within the morning we set off once more in the direction of our vacation spot.

Faruk Sehic Odessa 2023_1
The countryside on the way in which from Poland to Odesa. | Photograph: ©Faruk Šehić

I jotted down some ideas about Ukraine within the notes on my cellphone whereas we had been there:

“Even earlier than I set out, I knew what awaited me in a war-torn land. When you expertise that, it stays with you eternally. A compass, a tool to navigate in an uncommon actuality. It’s deep inside you and activates itself when needed. Individuals who observe battle on their cell phone and laptop computer screens suppose {that a} nation at battle is in a magical, distorted state the place horror reigns constantly and all over the place (as in Bakhmut). This isn’t fully true, however there’s admittedly a modicum of reality there.

The distinction is made by the context. If you stroll the streets of Odesa, you’re acutely conscious that your life may finish at any second, that supersonic rockets may fall on you. If you end up there and also you see that life, like a plant, is set to withstand all adversities, you realise that this additionally happens in locations with out battle, like Berlin or Sarajevo. However it’s exactly this battle context that decrees the upcoming hazard of life. Solely in battle can one perceive the worth, the fragility and the nullity of life.

I breathe naturally in Ukraine, my coronary heart is extra at peace than in Berlin. It was a paradox I anticipated. But my companion is nervous about how you can behave if a state of affairs arises that arouses battle trauma in me. However one thing else occurs: a standard acceptance of the state of battle. As a result of in these conditions I understand how to be smart and keep away from waking the sleeping canine. You’ll be able to enter the identical river twice, as a result of battle is similar river.”


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It’s unusual to take a look at what folks publish on social networks: you see totally different realities the place issues are perceived in numerous methods. The fact past the Ukrainian borders was alien to me. It isn’t that I really feel contempt for unusual human aspirations, however I see their banality extra clearly. Within the face of mortal hazard all the pieces turns into secondary to survival.

In fact, on my first evening in Odesa, I imagined a rocket coming into proper by means of my window. However these rockets are made in such a method that they might wipe out the whole lodge constructing if that had been to occur. So I ended imagining my demise and fell asleep peacefully. My good friend Kathrin went to mattress with headphones on in order to not hear the rockets and drones. She had extra braveness than I did: she was afraid, however persevered nonetheless. Through the battle within the Nineteen Nineties I conquered worry in an analogous method and realized to manage it.

In Ukraine all the pieces works, there isn’t a signal of chaos or disorganisation. And sure, the battle is in its second 12 months, however the cleanli…

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