As a journalist, Mirjana Đermadi has seen it all. But there is one memory that stands out to her above all else – the ordinary Kandit’s cooking chocolate that held special significance during the war in her native Vukovar.
The chocolate, weighing just 100 grams, was kept as her greatest treasure for a month under the thin pillow of a ‘ship berth’ in the Vukovar hospital where she was brought in October 1991 while eight months pregnant. It was her only comfort during those dark and uncertain times, when fear of being in a hospital constantly bombarded with shells and shock at seeing her wounded brother among the casualties were all too real.
But even in those moments of despair, Mirjana found solace in the small piece of chocolate. She had originally intended to use it for her 33rd birthday, two days before the fall of Vukovar. However, when her birthday came and went without any celebration, she remembered the chocolate she had hidden under her pillow. Despite being crushed and no longer in its original form, it brought a moment of sweetness and joy to the women in the hospital during those trying times.
Mirjana’s story doesn’t end there though. Following her evacuation from the hospital and city on November 20th, she gave birth to a daughter in Maribor where her cousin lived. Despite facing numerous hardships along the way, she returned to Vukovar with her daughter and continues to share other people’s life stories as a journalist while also carrying her own untold poignant experiences with her wherever she goes.