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Selma Mesic


Foreignness is something existential and more about your mentality than about where you are geographically. I am a Copenhagener and I love my city, but I don’t know if I am Danish. I don’t identify myself with a particular nation. Maybe this is because I fled from a war, which to a large extent was started due to nationalism. When I arrived in Denmark, all the flagpoles and flags in the allotment gardens in Amager frightened me. Why all these flags, I thought? Didn’t people know the dangers of nationalism?

My first memory of war comes from my school, when a new girl started in my class. She had fled the war in Croatia. This made a big impression on me, that she no longer had a home, let alone her own room. I talked with my father about it, and he said that at least it was nice for her to have her family around her. Everything else could be replaced in due time. Shortly after the war started in Bosnia, I lost my father, and I discovered that he had been right. Things can be replaced, but people can’t. For several years I had such a massive feeling of sorrow and aggression building up inside me that it blocked my vocabulary.

I was unable to express my feelings, and I simply couldn’t utter the words that my father was dead. But you must learn to say the word. Death is and should be a part of the grieving process, because it doesn’t become less present by not talking about it. It is painful to lose a person you care about, and that is probably why we will never have a natural relationship to death. In time grief lessens, but the loss doesn’t.

37 / female / in a relationship / Copenhagen S / school teacher / from Bosnia-Herzegovina / came to Denmark via family reunification in 1994

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