It has been, almost to the day, a good hundred and five years since. So there is not a living soul left in the world that would be able to tell the story from one’s memory about what had really transpired. We will tell this tale following the heart, because it is the heart that listened to the story of Safija. Sometimes, if you’re truly devoted listener that opens a heart to a good story, you will be able to hear the story told by a house.
And so here it goes…
Love of Safija and Johan in those days, following current social customs and norms, has not been much discussed. At least not out loud. Here and there, at minder in idle afternoons few words about that love would roll over tongues. Such namlija, mind you, and she went after kaurin. Half of Sarajevo and Sarajevo valley secretly wanted their sons to marry Safija, and the other half openly talked about it, hoping that spoken word and intention will reach Ahmed Bey. And as it goes, it did not happen.
We can not know for sure, but we strongly believe that girls of the time, in the quiet of the night, alone in their maiden rooms, secretly envied Safija’s courage. And, truth be told, they had a good reason to. That indeed was the love that moves mountains, changes how rivers flow, the love that songs and speeches are written of, as it was these hundred and five years now.
Safia’s only, but huge ache, and we know for certain it was, as we read her letters, was that her father, Ahmed Bey, for years would not hear of it. It that times it was a great shame – only beloved daughter, begovica, ventured into the white world. He knew that since then everything her hand touched turned into gold, he knew that she was loved as few women were, but for long he could not find the courage in his heart to forgive her. Ahmed Bey, powerful and broad-shouldered man, was slowly withering since Safija left. He was not talking about her, nor anyone dared to utter her name in front of him. But it was in every conversation that, as a morning, barely visible haze, she wafted, so unuttered. And for years it went on – not even a sound. All those years Safija was writing long, heart-warming letters trying to convince him that this and such happiness was intended for her only and that no social norm of that era could change their fates. Because we cannot change destiny, we know that. He never responded to any of the letters, nor did he ever mention them in front of Fatima-Hanum. For years after Ahmed Bey Magbulija left this and moved to better and more beautiful world, all the letters were found carefully stored and bound by a hair ribbon, left forgotten after Safija left following her happiness. A hundred times, it was so obvious; each letter was held by his hand and parsed. And on each letter, here and there, one could see the ink was slightly smeared. A tear?
But love is as persistent as water, it always finds its way. Last autumn of Ahmed Bey’s life on this world something in him snapped. Finally the heart overcame the mind and he sent to his daughter just one haber: “Come.”
And she did. For long hours they remained closed in the room. Once she came out, Safija did not say anything – not to her mother or to Johan. Never afterwards did she cry, nor mention that day. Only once, with a sigh, she whispered that she was forgiven.
And love, if strong and grand, will forgive always and all.
The 4 Rooms of Mrs. Safija
Restaurant in Sarajevo that is close enough to the center of the city, yet far enough from the crowd - feel the joy of relaxation it the heart of Sarajevo - Restaurant 4 Rooms of Mrs. Safija