The Small Yellow T-Shirt

A yellow t-shirt from my childhood, one of the few things that made it through after the war along with my father’s 35mm camera and a small box of film rolls. The yellow neon color is magnet for small flies, and it shines about a cheerful bright attitude. A mood enhancer. Typical for the late 80’s and early 90’s.

The motive on it is for the the 1990 European Athletic Championship held in Split, then still in Yugoslavia. The t-shirt was made in Sarajevo and is thus a relic of past borders on the European map, just like East Germany who would once again win the most medals in an athletic championship. Only to have its scheduled final settlement for reunification penned down literally ten days after the championship. Yugoslavia was however already dead, and regarding sport events, the Maksimir riots happened some months before this championship. Yugoslavia was at the same time in: democracy, dictatorship and violence impending. All while the last strokes of normality for the outside world were shown off. The breakup of Yugoslavia was inevitable.

Meanwhile as a child I wasn’t aware of all that was going on. When I became aware of it the impending war I called the local radio station in Mostar to tell them, to tell the adults, not to go to war. Naive, but with a good intent of putting my action where my mouth was. Every time in Mostar I always pass by the graveyards and I give thoughts to the people who payed the highest price for the freedom of their country and people.

This yellow t-shirt reminds me of the time before Yugoslavia turned itself on itself, before the aggression and war crimes on Bosnia. Before all that happened, in the mind of a child, unaware of what would happen and how the world of power functions. It brings me back to the days spent playing outside, the days of reading about the wonders of the world, the days of daydreaming and evenings looking at the small flies on the yellow t-shirt.

This is for my children, who will wear this t-shirt and wear it apart hopefully. It got a second chance at childhood.

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