Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cemeteries in our Backyards

Surprisingly, there is not a clear answer to the question of how many people died in the war in Bosnia.

But the exact number is unimportant if you live in Sarajevo. Even we latecomers live with the grimness of the death toll. Cemeteries are now tucked into every neighborhood. I stood in the road and took a photo of the old--i.e. pre-war--cemetery in our neighborhood.

Then I turned around and took this photo of the new cemetery.

The old cemetery is about three blocks long. The new cemetery extends all the way up the hill, this tightly packed all the way up. There are cemeteries like this all over town densely packed with blindingly white tombstones.

And the death dates on the headstones in this newer cemetery? All between 1992 and 1996.

A Bosnian friend once told me that keeping your family close to you is an important part of Bosnian culture and that these pocket cemeteries--"cemeteries in our backyards" she called them--are one way of doing that. They're also one way of never quite forgetting the war.

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