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May. 30th, 2004

Yesterday I was at a Yug party. Most of them are older than me, in thier late twenties and thirties. There are differences between us. They were there before Tito died, they know eighties songs by heart and thiers was the generation that got fucked around by the Balkan wars. They weere 18/19 most of them, the boys ripe for the front and those who left the land have pretty much had a decade of their life gobbled up, have spent 10 years frozen. War destroyed the lives of everyone, regardless of whether they were directly involved in it.

I am the mid-generation. It was my childhood the war blighted not by adult-hood, it's like the shadow of a wing that stretches across my adolescence. And my brother's generation? They're screwed in thier own way. The ones who grow up in the post-war world, the whole of Belgrade like a big council estate. No hope, no way out for the majority; bored children of burnt-out parents living in a rotten society between the Scilla and Charybdis of foreign sanctions/enmities and domestic crime/corruption. A Serb film from a couple of years ago, whose one line summary was: The war has finished, the wounds have remained.

But I digress. After we had finished listening to and laughing at the trash of our music and trying to teach the only non-Serb there the intricacies of the circle dance and tea-towel whirling, and in the lull in which everyone's sixth beer and my second shlivovitsa were kicking in we started getting into deep discussions and swapping childhood stories and I am once again and continuously shocked by how rife and common place physical abuse is;

Those who tell it laugh about it; like you're sharing memories of some amusing field trip, or youthful misadventure like the time you got drunk and were sick for days.

These are not isolated incidents, this is the majority and I can understand why my mother considers me to have an idyllic childhood because most people have physical battering as well as thier heads fucked with.

And this is what gets me. That this is all commonplace, routine. That the parents are behaving in ways in which thier parents behaved and that it's all like something out of a draconian Irish convent. Like being made to kneel on corn/nut husks or being sent out into the garden to *select the switch with which to be beaten* (whereupon they would often run into the neighbouring children on the same errand) and the trick of finding one that will hurt less and that won't break (because if it does break you have to do the whole thing over again and fetch another one). Yes, I can understand the black humour because I share it, but by equal measures I am horrified. The small violences are rife, children against parents, children against other children.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
guihong
May. 30th, 2004 10:51 am (UTC)
What's shocking is that it is commmonplace across culture, nationality, and generation.

Whatever a shlivovitsa is, it sounds delicious right now :).

love, me
rainsinger
Jun. 1st, 2004 01:32 am (UTC)
Shlivovitsa is an indigenous Yug drink made from plums. It's very alcoholic and mostly home-brewed. A bit like brandy. Very strong spirit and national treasure. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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