Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium
and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him.

“The Gospel according to Matthew”, 27, 27.

God is my witness that the firefight had lasted for days, without any significant cause and visible effect. We stood on one side of the canal, and they were on the other. The sun choked us during the day and the swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes drove us crazy throughout the night. From time to time a bullet would squeal above our heads and disappear like a headless fly. Along with bullets, we exchanged bursts of insults and ugly words. We did the same with those across the water, as we did between ourselves.

We did our best to fill in the gape of emptiness that divided us.

We resembled the participants of some harmless children’s game until the night when few of them crossed the canal and slew the two of our men in the trench, while they were sleeping.

The very thing startled us. Fear and courage stood side by side. To my astonishment and against my will, the general attack started.

We fired randomly out of all weapons we had.

They were risen from their trenches more by noise than by preciseness of our bullets and projectiles. They started to run frantically, without making any resistance.

They ran faster than we pursued them.

We went in and out of their deserted villages and robbed unsparingly everything we could find. We justified crossing the borders forbidden up this point by the need to settle the debts from the previous war.

Wheels of the attack stuck in the cesspool of greed.

Overloaded transportations went backwards with no order or measurement to the background.

Luckily, the enemies were still pursued by their fear.

It was only the next day we were able to advance further. Only God knows why there was still no resistance. Everything was repeated from house to house, from village to village.

The war was accelerated by the general aims, and personal ones slowed it down.

When the robbers’ appetite and fights about spoils of war started to rise, there was an abrupt slowing down of the advance.

It took us few days to reach the coast of the Kupa, where the advance, with the relief on both sides, ended. The hard executable task of keeping what we won lay before us.

The commanding officers had their hands full with organization of the guards, men’s accommodation and reinstalling the communication system.

However, the soldiers were interested only in house searching and patrolling along the village.

It resulted in piles of household furnishings along the way. Every soldier formed a little pile of its own and guarded it jealously. He would take all of it with him when he left the front.

I’m presenting all this because of the event that happened during the first days of our stay in one village situated parallel to the river flow.

In those days it wasn’t unusual to come across the drunken soldiers. Furthermore, only few of them were sober. Some were drunk with revenge, some with greed, and some with alcohol.

I’m pointing your attention to the two of them.

They happened to be in the village crossroads, under the shadow of the apple-tree, which top leaned over the road from the deserted yard. They were drinking the trophy rakia alternately from the soldier canteen and grinning, God knows why.

In all that stupor and delirium, their attention was drawn by the Christ made of tin, nailed to the wooden cross.

On the little plate above the Christ’s head, barely visible, his guilt was written: I. N. R. I.

– Look! Their Christ!

– Look, for God’s sake, they crucified the completely innocent man!

– Lets take him down from the crucifix, to save him from misery, poor fellow!

They stood up. One of them approached the cross and touched the metal figure with fear.

– Touch him! He is still warm! Maybe we could help him?

With great difficulty and swears, they started unnailing him with knives and rifle butts.

Having separated the body from the cross with difficulty, they put it between themselves so it looked like the three of them were walking hugged, all in step and headed to the house where the unit command was. As soon as they entered the yard, both of them started crying out:

– Oh, commandant! Come out!

– We are bringing the wounded man to you!

– Call the medical orderly!

– Maybe it’s not too late!

– It appears like he’s showing some vital signs!

As an answer to their shouting, inside the house there was a scramble. A dozen of men rushed to the front door and jammed them with their bodies.

When they saw the scene – the thunderous laughter started to echo, and than stopped on the spot.

Those two didn’t allow that to confuse them.

– Does anyone have the glass of rakia to disinfect his wounds? We could use it also, to drench our dried throats!

The earsplitting uproar filled the entire yard. Everyone seemed to compete with others who would be the first and fastest to offer help to the liberated Christ.

– It will be hard to bring him back without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation!

– Well, you give it to him! Are you made of wood?

– Look what they did to their God! Left him to us!

– Don’t go too close! The wretch needs some air!

– Oh, god’s people, isn’t he one of us?! Maybe we threw him in between them?

– It’s anybody’s guess! These two have taken his uniform down. You see that he is in his underwear.

– Don’t look under! Do you have any doubts that he is a male?

– You wouldn’t be male either, if they molested you like him!

– Let’s just hope he didn’t give us away!

– He didn’t! By the number of his wounds it’s clear that he had been beaten and tortured for a long time.

– He is a tough nut to crack!

– Of course he is tough, when he’s made of metal!

Shield his eyes from the sun! Can’t you see that he is squinting?

– Who could look at us with wide open eyes when we are like this?

– Here’s the helmet! Put it on his head!

– Dozens of hands jammed the helmet on his head. The metal grating sound could be heard. As if he was staggering under all that burden.

– Don’t let him faint! Wake him up!

Slaps and punches were flying. The metal resounded in a dull tone.

Not far from there the flame reached a nearby house’s roof. Tiles in flame exploded like faraway machine-gun bursts.

– One can’t tell who is more drunk!

– For God’s sake, brothers, everything just seems so suspicious to me…

– Everyone ran – only he stayed to greet us?!

– You’re right. He is the one to hang steadily and look at us with suspicion, in order to run away to his people before dawn and with all the gathered information.

– People, don’t exaggerate! He ran away from someone’s field where he scared the crows off!

– Or they finished him off on the fence while stealing hens?


The moods never alter that fast as with soldiers like this.

The debaucheries from a moment ago became quiet on the spot, and men fell into a deep drowse.

Only the Christ stayed leaned against the house wall out of which one could hear discontinuous snoring of the asleep.

Although he was on security guard, he looked careless, with arms spread, like the one who lazily stretched his legs, slowly and hardly visible, after hard work.

He seemed absorbed in his thoughts, captivated by the recent noise and the smell of burning.

His lips were half -open.

As if he would – God forbid – utter some word any moment now, or, perish the thought, pass away.

Prevela na engleski
Slavica Stevanovi

[1] Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews


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