Symbol above heads

20 years ago where I am walking on right now wasn’t here. As a matter of fact, none of the existing bridges were.

In 1999 Serbia was a victim of NATO bombing. Among many other, all of Novi Sad’s bridges were destroyed. That may be what hurt us the most. 

We were separated from our friends and family who lived on the other side. To get to them we had to use boats. So many people were using them daily, that the old ferries were brought back to be used for transport.

The first winter post-war, we were on our way to our godfather’s family celebration. My parents decided to ride that old, crowded ferry with three small children. There were a lot of people wearing dark clothes, as if we were going to a funeral… As if everything around us was a funeral. Serbs are known to be loud and cheerful people. The atmosphere on a ferry was grave, almost completely silent.

As the rusty ferry started sailing across the murky Danube, our parents held us even tighter. 

Curiously, while the strong winter wind blew on my little face, I was looking at the people around us. I couldn’t hear most of the conversations. Koshava never fails to be heard, felt or seen. Everyone moved along with the ferry, muttering big words for a 6-year-old girl. Two tall, dark men stood near. One of them complained about this terrible and scary situation, about risking his life each day just to get to work. The other one was looking somewhere up. 

He said – They took a lot from us, didn’t they? But the Fortress is still there, standing above the city.

Indeed, the Petrovaradin Fortress was still there. It didn’t have the traces of the previous year on it. We would get through this one, we knew it!

Author: Đurđica Gordić, student

This digital story has been realised within the European project “Stories Behind the Cities”, founded by Creative Europe Programme, European Commission.