Final departures are always dispiriting and bring discomfort. How to summarize someone’s life without being pathetic, and explain why it was important for us? In the case of Srdja, this is even more difficult. His presence or omnipresence was very discrete. He established and funded independent media, but he did not interfere, even when he did not agree with them. He always spoke from his own individuality, he did not ask for fans or applause. With an autonomous and analytic mind, devoid of euphoria produced by vanity, he fought for those human values which were an integral part of his ethical system. He believed in these values because he did not dwell on intellectual rhetoric, but was focused on social action where professional and political elements interweaved. And what else to expect from a decades-long practice of a lawyer who defends political crime cases and the field of human rights.
He was a skeptic, because he was realistic. He was charismatic, because he had a brilliant mind. He was distanced, because he had high criteria in social communication.
Why was he important to us, without trying to become so? We were never together with him, but we shared a fellowship. The beauty of fellowship, if that can be said. Srdja was always around, if needed, if things become unthinkable and inextricable. Are these compliments? No, they are not. It is simply the truth.
The authority he possessed derived not only from his personal courage, but also from the definition and demythologization of every obscure societal and political phenomenon which were abundant in Serbia during the previous decades. Srdja was like a lighthouse which dispersed the dark that we were surrounded with by a brutal light. Why brutal? Because it was impossible to hide anything in that frightening picture emerging from the darkness. It was like a mental exorcism which we followed with fear and exultation.
Death is a sentimental category. How should this sentiment function in Srdja’s case? Through philanthropy, perhaps? Through the loss of Man? Through the lost decades that sum up to one hundred years of solitude? Maybe it’s the curse of this region – that the best among us leave so quickly that we never succeed in telling them how important they were to us. That we never manage to say goodbye.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic