During long and warm summers we often took walks along the road, that one road that leads to Zboj, the village next to mine. Just a short distance north of my Grandma's house, hidden under green tree branches leaning towards the slope used to be a hole in that slope - big enough to fit a grown man and concealed enough to go unnoticed by passers-by. We were told this was a secret hideout of the local partisans who helped the Red Army against the Nazis. Not once did we walk by it without stopping and literally basking in that great awe we felt when looking at it - there was so much that we could never comprehend or imagine; so much fear and bravery alive in the memories of those who still remembered; the coldness of nights spent in hiding and the safety of this dark dug-out that smelled like soft, wet soil and mushroom roots in fall.
People said that this was an entrance to a tunnel and that this tunnel led to an exit some further distance from the village. There were talks about going in and checking it out to see what's left of it, but it was over 40 years after the war, if not more, and it was dangerous to enter because it had deteriorated and became unstable. We used to stop by the supposed exit hole as well, yet this one was already hard to make out among all the fallen branches, twigs and new growth. There was a tiny stream right next to it.
Today the hole is no longer there and with our great grandparents and grandparents gone, hardly anyone remembers to stop by and search for it in the bushes that have taken over what's theirs. I wonder if the kids who are as young as I used to be when staring at it are told about partisans and their fight. I guess they are not.
My great grandfather was in the army, and I remember a framed portrait on the wall in my great grandma's bedroom - a handsome, blond, strong, majestic man in a uniform who looked like he could protect a king. Yet my memory is starting to fail me... I'm not sure this portrait was connected to the war - it could have been taken before that because he looked so young... I'm not sure. And I know my paternal Grandma lived through the war, but I never got to ask her about it - how she felt, how she coped, how she gave birth to my uncles and my aunt... Or maybe I did ask her, I just don't remember what she said...