Late in the evening.
"Honey, go to sleep; it's late and, besides, tomorrow will be a very special day."
"What will be, then?"
"Tomorrow the last soldier will leave Slovenia."
I looked in disbelief. They said that so many times, they promised it so many times, and yet they were still here. I didn't see or meet any, but I wasn't feeling safe. I knew there were a lot of them and that they could decide and start the war anytime again if they liked.
"How do you know that?"
"They told it in the news and this time it's for real, trust me. You will hear the sirens go off tomorrow when the last one goes on the ship that will take them away and you'll know it's for sure."
"Mum, I so wish they were really gone, I have this bad feeling knowing they're still here."
"Me too, honey, so let's just hope for the best, OK?"
This conversation between my mum and me was taking place on October 24th, 1991.
I was 12.
The next day the sirens really did go off and I blinked back the tears and swallowed hardly: I dreaded this sound for months now. But that day it was the best sound ever, the one I was waiting for: the last ex-Yugoslav Army soldier went on the ship. I was full of hope the fear I felt that summer will go with them, go for good.
Because there were sound alarms waking me up in the morning, warning us from the enemy airplanes.
Because there were news of shooting and dead people nearby - I lived only a few kilometres from Austrian border and the Yugoslav Army wanted to block the outer borders of Slovenia.
Because my mum had to go on duty straight to the line of fire - she was a nurse.
Because my dad had to stay at work - he was an engineer at the factory that produced parts which army could use for their vehicles; they had to be there to prevent army from taking the factory over.
Because I watched my grandma accept the news that her youngest son is in fights on the other part of the country: she was born in 1920, she has been through the turmoil of the whole century, and then in her 70's she had to experience that...
Because I was left alone with my 6-year-old sister and my grandparents, not knowing if I'll see my parents again or how will I prevent from anything bad happening to my family.
Because my dad built a safe room in the basement and we had to hide there everytime the sirens went off.
(I cannot tell you how the sound of such alarm feels like. It's like your chest will collapse into itself. I cannot tell you how it's like to be hiding in the basement, fearing for life, either.)
Because noone knew what will happen next.
The war in Slovenia was only 10 days long. We were lucky. We were so lucky, you all know what happened only months later in Croatia and Bosnia. And that wars are still going on in the world.
So I shudder when some speak about it mockingly nowadays ("a mini war", I often hear).
Because what I felt back then was for real.
Luckily, it's 21 years later today. And October 25th is a very special day indeed.
Today my prayers go to those who are still waiting for the sirens to signal the departure of the last enemy soldier.
"Koper, 25.10. 1991: The last soldier with his armour leaving Slovenia, behind him a Slovene Police Officer."