i read this book during my commute. whenever i read something horrific, intestines being pulled on, a man sobbing like a baby over the death of his best friend, a 4-year-old who accompanies his father who works in a graveyard… i look up from the book, to my surroundings and i cannot fathom how i’m on a bus with no shelling going on, the sound of gunfires are unfamiliar and totally foreign – unimaginable. there is peace. i live in peace.
The war continues. States the epilogue. It continues, it hasn’t stopped and the future is so uncertain. Di Giovanni consciously updates us about the political situation and the fates of the people she meets and colleagues. It is this common use of the “foreshadowing” that intrigues me. It reminds me of Segher’s semi-autobiography/novella the Outing of the Dead Schoolgirls. We tend to need to know where these figures and characters are now. If they are dead, we should know that as we read them as alive at one point – but presently they are not. A commemoration. For remembrance. In a memoir.
Internally displaced, painfully living in the dark because it is too dangerous to move about outside, snipers are constantly on watch. Yet they stay. It is home, where can they go? They leave the country, but return after a few years. Because it is home. It is just their home.
Lastly, time. I’ve learned a new way to conceptualise time during war. It is counted by the number of cigarettes lighted (110). It is always a space of waiting… for your target, for it to all end. A space of uncertainty of what the next day would bring or even the next hour or minute. Even “minutes are endless. It seems you will never move forward to the next day” (121), everything is stretched out. It seems like this is taking forever, but what is everyone waiting for exactly?
My question remains. How does Di Giovanni (given her 20 years of experience in reporting war) and many other war correspondents continue their work? How do you just deal with trauma, resume normal citizen life and family then return to war torn countries to work?