In fact, one could see only in the letters they devotedly exchanged in those, however rare, days when they were not together, how great and what kind of love it was.
“You know,” Safija wrote in October 1924 from Italy where she stayed with a friend, “I think I didn’t tell you about this. Not long prior to our meeting, I’ve dreamed of you. With imagination of a sixteen year old girl, of course, but I have seen your eyes and your hands clearly. It was just before that concert that Field Marshal organized, I’m sure you will remember. It is interesting, my darling, that already that morning I knew, while the dream still did not fully vanish from my eyes, you’d be the one I will spend the rest of my life with,” says Safija and underlines the following sentence: “And so it will be – with God’s help.” Johan, only two days later, wrote back that, from the moment he saw her, he was absolutely certain that his life would be unthinkable without her. Except for the most obvious, connecting East and West and two religions, which at the time was an unprecedented case, this love was, in many ways different from the established norms of society in those days. Contrary to common habits, when love for a wife was usually expressed with expensive, material gifts – beautiful dresses made of the finest materials and lavish jewellery – Johan and Safija exchanged gifts of books, pictures, trips, and even spices! (Safija, in fact, never missed an opportunity to bring rare spices and recipes from her travels, and then – in the days devoted only to them, dismissing all servants – they would prepare all kinds of delicacies.) However, it was not unusual to gift a house, but even that gift was a special one. Houses of that times were, after the Austro-Hungarian standards, far larger, with spacious rooms, higher ceilings and often happened that Sarajevo’s elite, and even newcomers, would compete in the size of the house. This one, which Johan gave to his beloved “mala begovica” was built according to her wish. Safija’s modesty, that she retained all her life and never – despite unquestionable wealth and opulence in which she spent all her life – have changed for a little bit, is embodied in this house. She wanted exactly these four rooms, as they still stand at the top of Čekaluša street.
It is not known, probably because it had never happened, that they ever grew distant from each other. Bound in a marriage that was anything but conventional, from very beginning, besides love, they shared another special blessing – warm and tender friendship.
In spring of 1931, while staying in Helsinki on invitation by Finish Government to attend the opening of the House of Representatives, Johan wrote to Safija that there is some kind of special connection between the infinite polar day and how much he misses her. “It is, my darling, exactly how lengthy each day is of being separated from you. And all moments I spend along your beauty and goodness fly so quickly! “.
Their earthly love lasted good 67 years. Just enough for one of the most beautiful love stories ever written.
The 4 Rooms of Mrs. Safija
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