It may be that through the years of this story narration a day or a two got lost, week or even a ray of sunshine, but that Sarajevo smelled of burgeoning blossoms and the sweet promise of warmer days – that had not disappeared from this story. Some twenty lifetimes and an entire vakat had flown by since, as a deceptive leaf or delicate petal that in these regions always announces early spring, and sometimes even in late May gets torn away by snow.
They also say that year, as it didn’t happen for a long while, spring lavishly bathed Sarajevo bazaar. As if it fled from powerful warlords and turbulent times that swept through the bazaar those years, this spring spited unrests by postponing its departure. And it was this year that it manifested its glory. Sarajevo was heavy with scents from one end to another. It flourished as it usually happens after heavy and cold winters, dreary times and dark clouds. Spring in Sarajevo, unlike in any other city – as those who visit it and those who carry it in their hearts all say – can reward those who waited for it. And those who never experienced a spring in Saraj, three hundred stories would not help them imagine it.
In the middle of such Sarajevo spring there was a new, spry and in those days yet unseen, house, standing on top of Čekaluša. And in it, according to those who peered in, were four rooms. Studded in gold and silver. Those who know better that gold or silver are not important say it is all about the intention – idea for which it was built. And there is only one intention in those walls: to celebrate love. This house defied all that people were used to: that begluk does not belong in European palaces, or that European courts’ glamour, so ostentatious to Sarajevans, would enter serene begluk. In four rooms of this house there is a mélange of subtle Bosnian filigree quietude and loud Viennese symphony.
In those days it was not easy to cross someone’s threshold. Invitation was required and awaited, only this special occasion could usher one in those quiet rooms. But, if you really wanted, you could have, during springtime, peek into the garden over the fences. And, if you would walk Čekaluša street in exact hour, in that quiet time between ikindija and akšam, you could see, in the garden, her slender, delicate back and her braid.
Mrs. Safija. In spring she would be sometimes tending the palm of the garden that is like a pendant at the necklace, placed by the side of the house. If you would look long at the house, there would be this one moment where you would be unsure if the garden is a decoration of the house or the house was built there just for the sake of this garden.
Those who were patient in their curiosity, and were peering over the fence at time of jacija, on a day of that spring (and the story says that it was early spring) on the corner of this palm of greenery at home of Mrs. Safija, just where would be its heart – if the garden would be a person – were greeted by a lavish hadžibeg. We do not know as we have not been there at the time, but the word is that there was ever none alike as this hadžibeg. Abloom and fragrant. Intoxicating. Nobody ever heard that hadžibeg blossoms so early, nor – from Sarajevo to Vienna, and all the way from Pest to Dubrovnik – it was ever known that Bey’s daughter would water a garden. And Safija, this is not the story but we tell you in confidence, did not took care of this hadžibeg simply with water.
Exactly where the heart of the garden would be, if the garden would be a person. Mrs. Safija looked after it with all her love.
And even today, this spring, that hadžibeg is still standing there. We know that without the story.
The 4 Rooms of Mrs. Safija
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