brni (brni) wrote,

letters from america

I ran in to my parents at the cafe today; they were sitting with one of my father's former students, one of the Bosnians that had come to the US to study, and to escape the war. She's returning to Bosnia in a few days, and had come back to the area to visit before she left the country.

In the course of the conversation, my parents told a piece of the story of how they had come from Yugoslavia. My father was, I believe, the first student allowed to exit the country to study in a western country after WWII and the establishment of Tito's dictatorial communist state (an interesting story in itself). But when my father received the invitation and the permission to go, he was torn - he and my mother were very seriously in love, and he didn't want to leave her. Eventually, his mother paid a visit to the Jelinek household to plead with my mother and her mother to encourage my father to take this opportunity.

So, my father came to the US. They wrote each other all the time; the first letter my father sent was immediately after arriving after a ten day ocean voyage. After ten days with nothing to do but write, the resulting letter was a tome. He included a souvenir ship's flag in the envelope.

The letter was not delivered to my mother.

Instead, there was a summons from the police.

My mother was put into a room with the letter - which had been opened and the contents thoroughly examined - and five police officers, and the interrogation began. What did he mean when he wrote this? What about that? What flag was this, and what did it mean? Tell us the code.

My mother started crying and couldn't stop, and eventually after a few hours, the police determined that she really didn't know anything, and let her go.
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