I studied in a Skopje elementary school, indeed very beautiful on the outside. I have always liked school and education, in general, it encouraged me to channel what I felt deep inside. And I knew that I could use this unlimited potential. However, at that time, ten years ago, you had to adjust to the ethnic and national environment to which you belonged.
I was an exception to the rule, which proved beneficial for me. Together with part of my “gang”, as I call my childhood friends even nowadays (some of whom I have not seen for years), I sometimes recall on the times when we were chased by groups of older children and beaten just because we did not share their ethnic origin or religious orientation. They did not know that I was not a Macedonian, they weren’t interested, didn’t ask and always beat us together, and together we tolerated it all.
Basically, I never separated people along ethnic lines, but felt the difference when I once went to the park, at the request of my friend, to keep him company. He supposedly wanted to me to start liking football (in my opinion a failed cause, but, nevertheless, I joined him). I went by bicycle passing through the Kale, the closest and nicest way to the park for me… I am still very delighted to this day, when I look at the sun setting towards Gjorce and Vlae, as if a meteorite is falling wrapping them in flames that do not end. An ocean of colors that do not end…
However, this day the feeling was somewhat different. I was bicycling slowly towards the place we were supposed to meet – the fountain at the beginning of the park. When I arrived there, I saw a large group of boys from a fan group, of which a good part of them were looking at me as if I had killed my mother. And then, it happened…. My friend, who was not one of the brightest kids, spoke out my name as loud as he could. And all eyes turned towards me, I felt the adrenaline going straight to my feet. My heart was beating furiously and I knew that I needed to disappear. Several children immediately started running after me, screaming: “Shiptar! Catch the Shiptar”
While I was turning my bicycle and trying to run away, friends of my friend also jumped out and calmed down the boys that were following me. Suddenly everything calmed down and the kids that knew me came up to me to protect me, in a masculine manner I had not noticed until that moment. I simply did not understand and did not want to accept that I was different from them, from anyone. And, especially, that I should be beaten for that!
Then they told me something that changed my perspective of the world forever: “He is not like the others. He is from the good ones”.
I greeted my friend, who I know did not have any bad intentions, but I was deeply offended. From today’s perspective, I was not personally so much offended, as I had been all those times when people who were close to me (and other people as well, in situations which I have witnessed) had condemned someone just because of his ethnicity or religion. That was my awakening moment. Since then, I do not allow for anyone around me to feel different or isolated from the others because of national or religious differences.
And that is why it saddens me when I see my Skopje, as a center of violent actions for which I know are caused by external factors. That I know, because I am a person who loves people and tries to understand and respect them. The fights that occur between members of all nations, kid fights or fights for a girlfriend, or under the influence of alcohol … normally, I do not approve. But, they are somehow “more normal” deviations in human behavior, in comparison to the ever more frequent ones, which I think, are orchestrated fights on the streets of my hometown. So many aggressors in blood cannot gather together that easily without anyone knowing about this. Some political structures, which find all this chaos suiting, control the fights! It is time to wake up and understand that if we do not overcome the misunderstandings that divide us ever so much, we will never unite.
And someone, from the background, will manipulate and control us, forever.