I am walking through the familiar streets of a city I Love. Zagreb. I’m going to visit the Cathedral, crossing the Ban Jelacic square and going up to the Kaptol. I can go without asking for directions. I know the way by heart. It is the first time I am here.
I have seen this places in pictures so many times, I have listen to my parents talk about them with so many detail that I don’t need any guide to my steps. Everything is on its place. The square, the open air market, with its red and white umbrellas, the Cathedral, the Church where my parents got married. It’s like a dream: I’m alone, in Zagreb, feeling like I have been here before. I know this place, and it’s my first day in the city. I’m thirty. I have dreamed for this day all my life.
I arrived by plain the night before. I was so moved I didn’t care my luggage was lost and in his way to Belgrade. I didn’t care about the reports I have to do about the first open elections in Croatia 1990 for the Spanish press, the chance I take advantage of to organize my first trip to the place I call homeland. I only cared to look at the windows and think: I finally did it!.
I’m going up to the ancient “Gornji Grad” and down through “Kamenita Vrata” to stop by to pray to Our Lady as mom and dad asked me. Then I see the statue of st. George resting after defeating the dragon I love so much in my way down to meet my relatives I don’t know but by pictures. We recognize each other immediately and began to talk as if we use to do so in a regular basis. Is all so natural, so familiar.
I’m moved and distracted and happy. Moved because I meeting my family. Until now I only knew my parents my brother and my sisters as a family. I didn’t know what is to have cousins and uncles and aunts. Is so great and funny!
Distracted because I’m hearing Croatian everywhere. In my city in Spain, when I hear somebody talking Croatian I know is somebody from my family. My parents, my brother and my sister are the only ones. Is our “secret” language. Sometimes, we, kids, when we didn’t want somebody to understand what we were talking about we switched to Croatian and began our “secret” talks.
I noticed this first in the blue tramway. I got distracted with every conversation. I was looking for my family in every one talking around me. I understand the talking and I understand the sense of humor!. People can pronounce my surname properly at the first attempt!.
Happy because I have never been here before. But this is already my secret city in my secret homeland. My new home.