He was one of the best persons I have met. Always in good spirits, willing to help, caring about everybody. He was my cousin. Because I was born in exile, I saw him for the first time when I was eight, and he was in his twenties and came to us from Zagreb to Pamplona on a motorcycle to see my parents and know us. I was impressed by his adventure. He was tall and strong and handsome.
More than twenty years after, we met again: this time in Zagreb. I was a Journalist and went there to cover the first free elections before the war. He welcomed me and brought me to his home, a tiny apartment with two rooms and a kitchen where he lived with his wife and two daughters. It was in the fourth storie without an elevator of a typical communist building in a communist neighborhood, built after WWII. The type of dwellings in which it was assigned a number of square feet (very few) for each person. I didn’t know when I arrived, but he and his wife had to sleep in the kitchen to accommodate me in the main room, which was the bedroom, sitting room, and dining room all in one.
I protested because I didn’t want to be an annoyance to them. Tomislav (Tom) was like a brother to me. He helped me do my journalistic assignment in Zagreb. He was generous with his time and was excited about having the opportunity to help me.
One year later, the Balkans War exploded. He was working all day and volunteering at night to set the alarms for bombings in his neighborhood.
It was exhausting, and he felt sick, so he went to the hospital. The doctor had to do a catheterization to his heart. During the procedure, there was a bombing, and the electric power of the hospital went down.
He survived and went home but in a lousy situation. He had to go up four stories step by step to reach his home. That very night there were three more alarms. He had to run steps down to the anti bombing refuge and then go up home.
During one of those ways up and down, he died. His wife and his daughters couldn’t do anything to save his life. A big heart had stopped beating because of that cruel war. Nobody will count him as a war casualty, but he was.
I joined once again my voice to all the voices that cry no more wars! Since then, the world has deepened in greater violence. No more wars! I see the world struggling and blooding, and I still believe in the right people who want peace and a better future. Without them, this life would be unbearable.
I didn’t found a picture of Tom so the featured image is from the historic center of Zagreb, Croatia