When my friend Dzana Serdarevic read last week’s newsletter
about “The Little Prince” — and how Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote it in the middle of World War II — she sent me an email about her early childhood in Sarajevo during wartime.
Dzana gave me permission to share her story. It’s below, along with illustrations from two upcoming books she’s doing for us.
Sometimes the best things come from really dark times, and [Saint-Exupéry] made something beautiful in that horrifying period.
I don’t remember the war [in the former Yugoslavia] because I was born in 1992 in September and the war started the same year, in April. My parents didn’t want to leave the city, hoping it would end fast but it lasted almost 4 years.
We lived near the cathedral in the Old Town, in the street that was good hiding from grenades. But it wasn’t good for my mom’s friend who lived in the building across from ours. A grenade fell there while her 4-year-old son was sleeping. He didn’t survive.
This is one of many horror stories I heard. I know a lot of people lost loved ones. Thank God my family survived. Every day was a minefield. You never knew if you were going to be shot or a victim of grenade.
My dad didn’t go into army because he wore glasses and without them he couldn’t see anything, so he stayed working (he was a lawyer) and going to bring us water and Red Cross food. Thank God my parents survived, and my brother. I was really lucky.
I watched every movie and documentary about that period … I read books, watched theater and every time I did that I cried. I couldn’t imagine how anybody could be so cruel.
I will sound naive but why can’t different people get along?
I never draw anything to record that period. Other artists who survived have done that in a really good way.
I am too positive and I want my art to spread that positivity too.
Thank you for the gift of your art, Dzana.