" It is locked, honey." Someone gently touched her arm. "You've come a long way, you are safe now." Saranda looked up at the kind woman's face. She was one of the barracks staff who served them in the dinning room. The round woman stared at her until Saranda could stand it no longer and looked away. How could she possibly understand...how could she explain about Granny and everything?
" Oh sorry, you can't speak English." She sighed slowly trying Albanian greeting: " Mer-ha-ba, er oh sorry, I mean...emri im asht Lisa, Li-sa." Lisa pointed her finger to the samll card on her huge chest with hen name on it.
Saranda chuckled and Lisa wiped perspiration off her brows" " Mare-harbor, emree-
imarsht Saranda and don't worry I speak English."
" Oh, nice to meet you, Saranda," She put her arm around her: "How old are you?"
" I am twelve and my brother is ten."
Lisa sighed and went back to the barracks, halfway there she stopped to make sure Saranda is following her. " I wanted to explain to yhour that I am here for you and by the way, your hair are really beautiful, so long and thick, you are lucky you don't need to wear shawl like some of the Muslims' girls I saw."
" My Grandmum wears a scarf and she can tell wondefull stories from our past."
" Can she?" Lisa waited until Saranda entered the barracks, then she locked the front door. " I would love to hear about your family, we could sit here, if you like." She pointed on some chairs in the hall.
" No, thank you...I mean, I'd like to go bakc to my family."
Saranda made her way to their rooms without anyone meeting. All was still and hushed on the corridor like in prayer time. She entered her parents' room. Her Mum was standing next to one of the empty shelves.
" Where is Dad ?" Saranda asked.
" Where have you been?" Mum looked white and tired. " He went to talk to other men. You know, he does not like you to go off without telling us.
" Mum, I have been only outside to get some fresh air." Saranda touched the empty self. " Are we real muslims, mum?"
" To be Muslim means to be God consious, whether inprayer, fasting or charity. That is what my Mother-in-law has taught me and I teach you. All of your Father's family are Muslims by tradition. I was orphan form Coratia. But as you know, because your father was a teacher he was forbidden to practise his religion."
" We never talked about Islam at school."
" All religion were forbidden at home, although people followed Islamic traditions at home and we all lived peasefully together," she sighed: " I don't know what happened to us."
" We never prayed at home too much either."
" Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Your father had chosen to teach so I respected his wish. He always preferred to take his own responsibility for his life, don't rely on God too much, he always used to say for that he was often called Non-believer by your Grandmum."
" But why has he been working as a farmer now?" Saranda interrupted.
" The Serbs took over and destroyed everything, your father was not good any more as a communist teacher from previous regime and later he was not good as a Kosovo Albanian." Mum sighed heavily again. " It is God's will to turn his back on us as we have turned our back on him."
" No, it is not." Said Dad entering the room. " There is nevws from home about ethnic cleansing not only of Albanians but also Croats, Gypsies, Turks, Montenegrins. Where are their God?"
" Go to sleep, Saranda," Mum ushered her into the adjoining room and closed quietly door while Dad was taling about the government violence against Albanian civilians.
Saranda stood quietly between her and Dardon's beds looking at some empty shelves and thinking of Grandmum. Dardon was sleeping soundly. She gently touched his head.
" I've tried to find you but you just disappeard." He snifed once or twice like a little child and truned back to sleep.
Saranda moved the makeshift curtain her Mum put there to divide her private space and stretched her body in the comfortable hend hugging her welcome teddy bear. " Good night, Grandmum, wherever you are!"