Every day, a man, who has to be nearing his nineties walks his dog. The dog is loud and somewhat obnoxious. But cute. The old man is deaf. And by deaf, I mean really deaf. Waving to him is the only way to get his attention.
This is my neighbor.
He is one of the most hilarious men I have ever met. Though I have never had a whole conversation with him, as I said he is deaf, I see him almost every day. All three of the windows in his apartment face the courtyard, I spend my sunny days, and so spying on him has become one of my favorite pass times.
I wondered for awhile exactly who he was, and then one day, this book was handed to me. The title of it is “Yugoslavia’s Ruin: the Bloody Lessons of Nationalism” — and right there on the cover is a picture of my neighbor. He is significantly younger, but it is obviously him. He has the same eyes, the same expression. Apparently the old man next door is Cvigeto Job, a former diplomat to the Yugoslavian Foreign Service. He took refuge in the United States, as he was a anti-nationalist after he retired from being a diplomat.
This book is somewhat incredible. It tells the story of Job, a historical view of Yugoslavia, a nation that has fallen apart. He has really seen it all. I have never read anything quite like this, but things that stand out are: “And in the slaughter, we were the most humane, or the least inhumane.”
I cannot even imagine being privy to a war like that.
These days, Job seems to sit around his house, scribbling at his desk. He seems happy, and has been seen at least once peering out of his window, giving the thumbs up to roommate.
It’s remarkable to think about a man like this. Considering the life he has had, I feel humbled by his experiences. A few nights ago, my friends and I were talking about the awfulness that is going on in Syria — and come to the mostly awful conclusion that being born in this world in the United States is like winning the birthing-lottery.
We are one of the richest, safest, freest nations. Certainly, we can — and will be — better, but until then, I find inspiration in people like Job, who have seen such a different, more violent, world. He made it here to live out his golden years, publishing books and walking his dog. What an beautiful life.