I open my eyes and stare into the darkness once again. It is 3am and as usual I have managed to get 3 hours of sleep. I close my eyes and try for three more. I awaken a few hours later with a dream clinging to the jagged edges of my slowly rebooting consciousness. It is strange this dream. Not in the sense that it was an abnormally weird dream but I remember what it was. I remember details and I usually do not remember the details of my dreams. Strange indeed.
The back drop to my dream was the Bosnia War and the center character was Vedran Smailovic. I was taking pictures from a building in my dream and after being sniped at escape through a maze of ruble covered hallways. From one floor to another until I reach the relative safety of a basement in an adjoining building. In hiding I meet this man Vedran Smailovic who will later be called the Cellist of Sarajevo. We eat bread and he leaves then I wake up from the dream.
So I set down and do some research into Mr Smailovic and try to piece the imagery of my dream and try to find the intersection of where dream meets reality.As I read it was a vivid painting of war and of human beings will to survive so deep it can become madness, no risk too much, no cost too high. What I also discover is the story of a common man doing an extraordinary thing.
It was May 27th, 1992, in Sarajevo. A group of civilians were standing in a breadline, hoping for their share of a dwindling food supply when a mortar shell fell from the sky. There were 22 civilians killed in that mortar attack. For the next twenty-two days Verdan took his cello and went out and played in their memory (one day for each victim) at the impact site of that attack. He had to smell the nauseating mixture of decaying flesh, drying blood and the abnormal smell of explosives and mortar fuel mixed in the air. That act of courage humbles me for I would never have that depth of courage to do so.
* *I wrote the major part of this back in April of 08. I have since gone on to being diagnosed with sleep apnea and now sleep well thanks to my cpap.What hasn’t changed is how this story still lingers in the front of my jagged little mind. I am challenge by it and strange as it seems blessed by that. Here is a link to a cool video about Vedran Smailovic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMrf_sd3gkA **