‘I think our kids would have played together. When I come here or to the cemetery, I never cry. No one sees me cry. But there is a time when I am alone, then I cry. I talk to my sister and I cry’
The bridge is new, of course. And of the shrapnel and blood we found here 19 years ago – and the bicycle draped with human remains and the decapitated priest – there is little trace. Sanja Milenkovic, the 15-year old girl and potential mathematics genius who died when Nato returned to bomb the narrow, crowded bridge a second time, was buried in her village cemetery. There is a plinth beside the new bridge with her name and those of the nine other villagers who were killed alongside her by Nato in the attack of 30 May 1999.
Sanja’s younger brother Sasha, tall, wearing shades against the midday sun, stands a lonely figure on the bridge today; if his 33 years have washed away his anger, they have not dampened his sorrow.
“Normally I won’t ever stop here on the bridge – not even if the police tell me to,” he says. “And Sanja’s picture is in my room, my older daughter is named after her. I visit the cemetery every day. It will be 20 years next year. I think our kids would have played together and Sanja would have been a professor of mathematics, I think. We were very connected. She was good in mathematics and I hated mathematics. I was too small at the time to react as a grown man. When I come here or to the cemetery, I never cry. No one sees me cry. But there is a time when I am alone, then I cry. I talk to my sister and I cry.”
So I guess there are questions to be asked. How long does sorrow last? Or anger? We journalists were outraged by the carnage we saw here 19 years ago. We were not personally involved – save, I suppose, for our countries’ membership of Nato – but we thought there should be some form of “justice”. Now I wonder. As the years pass by, people change. Or do they?