TE21 Serbian Moments

Dejan Tiago Stanković


everyone, never asking anything for herself, saying nothing, just smiling, as if her reward was being able to take care of others, wanting nothing in return. I often had a guilty conscience. In honesty, my Nabila had given up a life of her own for us – I don’t like thinking about it, but it’s the truth. Taher did not sharemy thoughts. Hewould say that the day she met us was the happiest day in Nabila’s life, that it was as if she had won the lottery when she came to us and that because of our good deed she was our ticket to heaven - her family hadn’t wanted her, they had written her off when they sent her to us, she had had no future and nobody had ever loved and taken care of her the way we had. But how could it be that she was all alone and had nobody? Was it possible that they had forgotten her? Taher assumed that she simply shared the fate of many young girls: when they are little they playwith a boy, usually a relative, and when word gets out, regardless of whether she has been dishonoured or not, it is she, of course, who is blamed, she is cast out into the world and forgotten about. I didn’t believe him, but I never asked Nabila about it. In any event, it became clear over time that she had no one but us and we accepted the fact, we had no choice but to take her with us. It was a natural thing to do but it also proved to bewise – we are old, admittedly we could still cope on our own, but she

takes care of us in our old age better than our own daughters would. We are family, not even blood ties are as strong as those created between people living under the same roof, people who share salt together. My daughters are her sisters, and my grandchildren are her grandchildren. In a way, Nabila loves me more than my own children do, and she certainly understands and respects me more, especially now that I am old and can sometimes be irrational. She is still young enough to outlive both me and Alex, which means we won’t finish up in an old people’s home. What will happen toherafterwards is notmyconcern. Shehas hersavings, and we have made sure that she is taken care of in our will, at least financially. Another important element of this story is that Nabila was terrified of djinns, those supernatural creatures; she believed in the power of amulets, and also in Allah, the one and only God, both Muslim and Christian, but above all she believed in fate, and more than once I was on the verge of believing in it myself.

It is alsoworth noting that Nabila never liked to relay bad news.

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