CHILDREN are the truly innocent victims in any war, and a...

salmagundi

March 14, 1994

CHILDREN are the truly innocent victims in any war, and a child's-eye view can lend an especially powerful perspective to accounts of war-time living. Zlata Filipovic, whose diary has recently been published in a number of countries, has come to represent the children of Sarajevo and other embattled regions of the former Yugoslavia.

She began her diary, which she addresses as Mimmy, as she begins fifth grade, three months before her eleventh birthday, seven months before her city came under siege.

Here are some excerpts:

"Tuesday, June 16, 1992

"Dear Mimmy,

"Our windows are broken. All of them except the ones in my room. That's the result of the revolting shell that fell again on Zoka's jewelry shop, across the way from us. I was alone in the house at the time. Mommy and Daddy were down in the yard, getting lunch ready, and I had gone upstairs to set the table. Suddenly I heard a terrible bang and glass breaking. I was terrified and ran toward the hall. That same moment, Mommy and Daddy were at the door. Out of breath, worried, sweating and pale they hugged me and we ran to the cellar, because the shells usually come one after the other. When I realized what had happened, I started to cry and shake. Everybody tried to calm me down, but I was very upset. I barely managed to pull myself together.

"We returned to the apartment to find the rooms full of glass and the windows broken. We cleared away the glass and put plastic sheeting over the windows. We had had a close shave with that shell and shrapnel. I picked up a piece of shrapnel and the tail end of a grenade, put them in a box and thanked God I had been in the kitchen, because I could have been hit . . . HORRIBLE! I don't know how often I've written that word. HORRIBLE. We've had too much horror. The days here are full of horror. Maybe we in Sarajevo could rename the day and call it horror, because that's really what it's like.

"Love,

"Zlata"

"Friday, July 30, 1993

"Dear Mimmy,

"A journalist has just left. I'm at the window. It's hot. I am watching the people lug water home.

"You should see the different kinds of water carts they have. How inventive people are. Two-wheelers, three-wheelers, wheelbarrows, shopping carts, wheelchairs, hospital tables, supermarket carts and, topping them all -- a sled on rollerskates. And you should hear the sounds! The various sounds and screeching of the wheels. That is what wakes us up every morning. It's all funny and sad at the same time. Sometimes I think about all the films that could be made in Sarajevo. There are loads of subjects for films here.

"Love,

"Zlata"

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