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فصل 04

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER FOUR

From my hotel window

They arrived at an army checkpoint on the edge of Sarajevo, where a group of soldiers was checking anyone who wanted to enter the city. She saw Haris standing behind the soldiers and recognised him immediately from Ed Jonas’s description. He was a tall man and rather overweight. He waved at her.

Behind her the white army truck had turned round. She heard the engine roar as it left. It was going to the base of the peacekeeping force two kilometres outside the city.

A young man with a shaved head and a large gun checked her papers, looking her up and down as he pretended to compare her with the photograph on her press card. Finally he waved her through. She picked up her bag and the case with her laptop in it. She wished she hadn’t packed so much, but when you’re going to your first war zone you don’t really know what to take.

‘You are Katy,’ Haris announced when she went up to him. ‘I take your suitcase.’ He lifted the bag from her hands. ‘You come with me.’ He walked off without saying anything more. Katy almost had to run to keep up with him.

‘Hey, hold on,’ she gasped.

‘No. It is good we go fast,’ he called back. She wasn’t worried about his grammar, but his accent made it difficult for Katy to understand him. She’d have to get used to that. ‘You are journalist, yes, but the soldiers, they are mad.’

They rounded a corner. The street was empty. There was a car with no wheels on her left. Haris pointed to an old Ford on her right. It was a dirty white. On the roof someone had painted ‘Press’ in untidy black letters.

‘This is my car. You get in,’ he told her.

Moments later they were bouncing along uneven avenues. Haris didn’t just look ahead of him. He kept turning to the right and the left. She watched his eyes. He was looking into the buildings on either side of them. She wished he would keep his eyes on the road.

‘What are you looking at?’ she asked.

‘I worry about snipers. These guys they sit here and shoot people,’ he explained.

‘What for?’

‘Sport? Revenge? Crazy people? I do not know.’ He shrugged his shoulders.

‘Are we in danger?’ she asked.

‘Not too much. This is not their usual area and I have “Press” painted on the car,’ he said proudly.

‘Yes, I saw,’ she said.

‘I want us to be safe.’ He smiled at her.

‘That’s good. I’m glad we’re safe,’ she said, but she didn’t feel it.

‘Maybe today it is different,’ Haris offered, almost enthusiastically.

Not a very good beginning, Katy thought. She didn’t know whether she was more worried about snipers shooting at her or about Haris’s wild driving.

‘How is my friend?’ he suddenly asked.

‘Sorry?’ Katy said.

‘Ed Jonas? How is he?’

‘I don’t think he’s very well. He’s a nice man,’ she found herself saying.

‘He is my friend. Perhaps I never see him again.’ Haris lowered his head in sadness.

‘I’m sure you will,’ she comforted him, not sure if she believed it. A few minutes later she asked, ‘Why are you in Sarajevo? Ed said that you’re from Montenegro.’

‘Sure. Yes. That is my home. But I came here for work four years ago and now,’ he shrugged his shoulders and the car swung to the right, ‘I stay. I do not know why. Perhaps I like the danger. Perhaps I am afraid to go home.’

‘But I thought Montenegro was relatively safe. There isn’t fighting there, surely,’ she said.

‘I have a wife,’ he said unhappily, ‘and many children.’

‘Well, then you should go back to them,’ Katy said.

‘What do you know about it?’ Haris sounded angry or upset. She couldn’t tell which.

‘Sorry, it’s just that… well, isn’t that what husbands and fathers do?’ she asked.

‘Yes. But I am here because there was not work in Montenegro and now…’ His voice tailed off.

They drove on. The only other cars they saw were being driven as crazily as the car she was in. Everyone, Haris explained when she commented on it, was trying not to get shot.

Ten minutes later he pointed through the windscreen. ‘There!’ he said. ‘That’s your hotel. That’s where all journalists are. You are all safe there because the Serbs do not shell it.’


After she’d checked in, Katy went to her room. It was very basic. There was a narrow bed with an old grey blanket. The chair and desk by the window reminded her of her old school. The mirror in the bedroom had a crack in it.

The bathroom was old-fashioned. She could see hard water stains on the showerhead and there was no shower curtain.

She unpacked her bag and put her clothes into two drawers beside the bed. She switched on the light and it worked. (‘Not much electricity in Sarajevo,’ Ed Jonas had told her. ‘Nothing much works in the city any more. But your hotel has a petrol-powered generator. It’s usually OK.’ It looked as if he was right.) She plugged in her laptop and the battery charger for the satellite phone which Jonas had given her.

‘What I want,’ Caryl Jones had said at their last meeting in The Daily Witness offices, ‘are articles telling us exactly what it’s like over there. Remember what I said about our younger readership? The late teenagers, the twenty-somethings - they’re the people who will read you. The older ones will too,’ she added quickly when she saw the look on Katy’s face, ‘but I want something special from you which the older journalists don’t give me. They think too much, they’ve “seen it all before”. But you! I just want you, Katy Sullivan, to say what it’s like for you to be in Sarajevo, what it’s like to be in the middle of a war.’

‘All right,’ Katy thought. ‘If that’s what she wants, that’s what I’ll try and do.’ She turned on her laptop and selected ‘New Document’. But she couldn’t think what to write. Perhaps she could talk about the history of the war? Or repeat some of Ed Jonas’s views? No, that was no good. It wasn’t what Caryl Jones wanted. She could talk about the soldier in the army vehicle. She could tell The Daily Witness readers what he said about the peacekeeping force. But that wasn’t right either. It was someone else’s opinion. Her editor wanted her voice, Katy Sullivan’s voice, to be heard.

She looked out of the window beyond the desk trying to get some idea of how to start. She typed ‘From my hotel window’ onto the screen. ‘That’s it,’ she thought to herself. ‘I can tell them what I can see and what I think it means.’ She began typing and now the words came easily:

FROM MY HOTEL WINDOW

From my hotel window, here in Sarajevo, I can see the hills and mountains which are all around this city. It’s evening and the rain has stopped. The setting sun has turned the sky pink. The mountains look magical.

Although I haven’t been here before I can understand why people say how beautiful this city used to be. It’s not just those mountains - although being able to see them every day would make anyone feel good - it’s the old buildings too, and the parks, and the Miljacka River. In Birmingham or Manchester concrete tower blocks look ugly, but here, because of where the city is, they could be almost attractive. Sarajevo should be a great place to visit.

But everything has changed from the days when people came here for pleasure. Now the hills and mountains are full of soldiers who want to kill people. The old buildings look as if they’re falling down and even from here I can see bullet holes in the walls. The tower blocks have no glass in their windows. They probably have snipers waiting to shoot at you, my new friend Haris says.

Smoke is rising from a building on my left as I sit here at my computer. Down below me there’s a park in ruins. The trees have no leaves. There is more mud than grass.

Everybody says that Sarajevo used to be a nice place to live, with Bosniaks (the Bosnian Muslims) and Serbs and Croats (and anyone else who was around) existing happily side by side for years. They ate in the same restaurants and went to the same cinemas. They watched the same plays and listened to the same concerts. They married each other, went to the same schools, and gave birthday parties for each other’s children. Tourists used to come here. Then the war started and now everything is different.

And here I am. A war reporter in my first war. What will I find on these city streets? What’s life in war-torn Sarajevo really like? What will happen to the people down there? What will happen to me?

I’ll let you know.

When she’d finished she read through what she’d written. It looked all right. She saved it and wrote an email to go with it before getting out the satellite phone and plugging it in to the laptop. She dialled the number Caryl Jones had given her and waited while the connection was made. Thirty seconds later her email and her article had gone to The Daily Witness. She disconnected the phone and switched off the laptop. Time to change and get something to eat.

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