Azra and her new husband Dragan, and her brother Irfan (pronounced ear-i-fawn) were all recent guests here; stunning Bosnians with beautiful names. (Dragan is absolutely as hot as his name implies!)
“What a great name!” I said when we were introduced.
Azra, with an accent as luscious as the rest of her, agreed and told me that is the reason she married Dragan- his name.
“Really?” I asked, disbelieving.
“Well,” she said with a tilt of her dark head and a mischievous grin, “Why else?”
Yes, Azra and Dragan get noticed, but it was Irfan that had my attention. He is a photographer for Dani, a Bosnian news magazine that is the equivalent to, though not as famous as, Time or Newsweek.
After spending the past eleven years working in the Boston area, Irfan has returned to the country of his birth to be a part of its rebuilding.
He sat in my kitchen, in the old Maple rocking chair that Auntie Rita salvaged from the Squaw Mountain Inn before it was destroyed, the one she left in the house I bought from her when she moved to Texas. The same one I refinished one afternoon when Papa took Kelly, then just a toddler, up to camp for the day for a visit.
Irfan was the first of his group to rise Sunday morning; the first one up for coffee (as movers and shakers typically are) and as he watched me prepare breakfast, he spoke of the state of his country. He and a generation of Bosnians are returning to a country in disarray, if not despair. Bosnia has a 35% unemployment rate, corruption, and all that jazz that accompanies a country shaken to its boots by warfare.
“There are many hard feelings between the fractions” he explained, “A lot of people had family members die at the hands of people they now have as neighbors. Generations will pass before the pain does the same, so, it is hard.”
We talked about the frontlines, and how the country folks fair compared to the city folks, the difference in difficulties for the men verses the women or the children. He described the geography and beauty of Bosnia and talked of a dozen other things while I sliced pumpkin bread and set the table. I now know Bosnians do not have yard sales; they have piazzas, which is more like our flea market. People, discouraged with searching for employment, search piazzas for family heirlooms lost in the looting that took place during the hostilities, and then forfeit yet another meal as payment to get those treasures back.
I asked him how the war ended. “Who won?” I wanted to know.
“Nobody won.” he said.
“What do you mean? How can nobody win? Did they just stop shooting?”
“Yes, everybody just stopped shooting.” He shook his head as if he was just realizing that truth and all the realities one truth can hold.
We talked for a while more, until the oven timer buzzed and he joined the other guests who one by one descended the stairs in search of a morning coffee buzz.
Then the guests, one by one, with a wave or a hug, left and he joined them. All that remains this morning is me, my kitchen and that old Maple rocking chair.
I was always a bit disappointed in the stain color on that old chair. I thought it too dark and often thought about selling it in a yard sale.
Silly, silly me.
L.E. Hughes is a columnist, writer and owner of Diamond Corner B&B in Stratton, Maine. She welcomes your thoughts and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© February 2005 Lew-Ellyn Hughes. All Rights Reserved and Retained by the Author