All early settlers remember the May Day outings and orchestra of the Ljubija miners, transported in the mining bus to the front of the Red and Blue High-rises, and playing marches, The Internationale, partisan and workers’ songs early in the morning, in honour of Labor Day, waking up the working class.
So the neighbors came down, brought brandy and cakes, sang together embracing each other before going to the picnic areas around the city. It was so at the time.
It is so today:
At dawn they cut the badnjak tree. Before Christmas they bring the oak branches with a tractor. And the people come down from the building, for ojkanje singing, for lighting fires and cooking stew, for shooting and drinking brandy in honour of the birth of the Saviour.
And they are all guarded by a police patrol van fifteen meters away, in which five armed Special Forces officers, members of the anti-terrorist unit sit. Now there are five Bosniak families living in the solitaire, and the five Special Forces officers are probably guarding the Badnjak from them, in honour of Jesus’ birthday.
Adem Ćordić lived with his family first on the fourth and then on the ninth floor. Engineer in the mine, father of two daughters, a cheerful, calm man, YNA reserve officer.
The day the war entered high-rise 101 (called the Red High-rise), Adem was killed by Serb soldiers searching the high=-rise while he was sitting in an armchair on the ninth floor. They found his uniform (what were they supposed to find – ballet equipment for a reserve ballerina?) and cut him in half with a volley as he was sitting. They pulled him out in the lift (Schindler brand), dragged him across the street like a dog leaving bloody marks, and left him in Taib’s garden.
Who has not lived in the Ćordić family’s apartment since then.
And then, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a covered woman moved into that apartment, bought the apartment with cash. All covered, Muslim, just with an opening for the eyes, alone.
Everyone in the solitaire avoided her, whispered behind her back, they were afraid, no one dared to get in the lift with her (Schindler brand). Once the postman came.
He asked the neighbour Ilija Sredić from the seventh floor, if he knew where Adem Ćordić lived now?
And why, for God’s sake, do you need him, answered with a question Ilija Sredić, a journalist in the mine internal newspaper.
“There is a court notice, he wasn’t paying, for years, the land tax,” the postman calmly told him.
And do you know, man, Ilija told the postman, that Adem the unfortunate Ćordić was killed in the Omarska camp and his bones were never found in the ground?
The postman was silent at first, maybe a minute longer than usual:
And are you, Ilija, sure, he whispers to him, that the covered woman from the ninth floor, in Adem’s former apartment – is not him?
“Land tax is land tax, even if you are still not found in it.”