Monday, 13 September 2010

Id in the Balkans


After a faux pas, calling to wish a friend for Id a day earlier – the morning of the night the Id ka chand was sighted – I recovered gallantly when I rectified my mistake and called, mid-morning on Saturday, 11th September and was right on cue. The traditional invitation for Id ka dawat for dinner was extended.

Id ka dawat was also proffered for lunch at another family I have known for the past 10 years. Uncle has just returned from Slovenia having stayed at its capital Ljubljana.

In our History class in college the Balkans was a region forever in ferment. Wasn’t it here that archduke Ferdinand was assassinated – sparking off the first world war? Yes, it was in Serbia in 1914 – which led Austria to invade Serbia, never mind Mozart. Later in university, we had to come to grips with the war crimes committed by neighbours Bosnia and Serbia against each other.

Listening to Dvorak’s ‘Prague Waltzes’ (1879) I mulled over what uncle was saying, how the erstwhile Yugoslavia was now quartered into Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and, Montenegro. Romania, where poet Paul Celan was born, was to the far right of these on the map. Celan, whose poem 'Death Fugue' is regarded as one of the most powerful poems of the holocaust, threw himself into the Seine in 1970 and ended his life.

Looking at uncles's photos of the places he had visited on the trip . . . Graz in Austria, and Paris . . . I recalled the Austrian Nobel prize winner for Literature in 2004, Elfriede Jelinek,  and her description of the Alps. But since this is about Id-ul-Fitr in the Balkans, space must be reserved for a bride of war:

To a Bride of War

-by Susan Ioannou


I lay the lilies of hate, my love,
along your bloodied hair.
From twisted foot and crumpled dress
the blue bruise crawling up your cheek
collapses a last breath.
May long white petals perfume your death.
Rubble is your marriage bed.
Blackened beams let in the sky.
Frost fills an emptied shoe.
Sleep quiet
though new thunder splits
this battered rock, and air bursts red.
I lay these lilies by your head
to wed you with old earth.

-from Balkan Poems, Wordwrights Canada, Toronto 2005


Map source: cfsworldmusic(dot)wikispaces.com
See also my blogpost - 'Aufwiedersehen' Austria
http://lastbustovasco.blogspot.com/search/label/Elfriede%20Jelinek

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