This is the story of how some of my family pictures survived a war.
I was born in a country that no longer exists – Yugoslavia (Jugoslavia). It’s funny because nowadays when I say that, people are confused: “But where is that, exactly?” Or they’ll try to trick me by asking, “Ok, so which place would you call home?”
In 1992, my mother, brother, and I flew out of Jugoslavia, leaving my father and grandparents there. To cut a long story short, we’ve all been to multiple countries before settling in the south of France, which I guess I now call home.
I must have been seven years old and somewhere during my trip “home,” my grand parents were thrown out of their apartment in 1993, right in the middle of the conflict. All their belongings were lost. Those included an awesome VW Beatle, a huge collection of books and sheet music, a piano, and a tiny statuette of Beethoven that I regret losing much. It was only thanks to a neighbor, who happens to be from another ethnicity, and who decided to recover what was left of our “stuff” (by stuff I mean “life”) by snooping around in the huge container next to the building, that we were able to get one box back. The box full of family pictures which our new tenants did not find any use for.
The first time I opened the box, I can remember, was in the years when I was in middle school. I have always been struck by the absolute perfection of some of the composition. I did not even know anything about composing a photograph or any art piece at the time; all I knew was that the pictures had character, a story… those pictures, they spoke!
Here are my parents in their prime, before they had to leave their old life behind and start from zero!
Maybe it’s just me, and maybe because they’re mine, but it feels more accurate to say that back then people took greater care whilst taking a picture. You only have one shot (or 12 or 35). On the other hand, with digital photography, it’s more like an unlimited weapons code in GTA – you’re not that concerned.
Maybe they mean so much because of the brutal change of life that they are proof of. None of these pictures are about MY youth, they are about a youth before mine, about a time that no longer is. It is a hard feeling to explain especially with words – this might be why Shaun Tan’s book “The Arrival” is wordless!
Here are photos of my brother and I in our youth.
Other notable pictures of family members.
I might sound sad while writing about this, but in reality these pictures really bring me joy whenever I look at them. In fact, I am very happy with how my life turned out. I met my best friends thanks to what happened, and when you cannot change the past you must accept it and move on.
That’s what these pictures are, a trigger for me to move on!