…once upon a time, a very long time ago, lived a great man in so small world. He had everything he wanted in every moment. But, like every other man from flash and blood, he didn’t have the most precious thing, love. The king ofSerbia, Stefan Uros I was lonely. He ruled in Balkan, and She was ruling over him. In loved with her for almost a decade, he was fighting for her love. Even they were thousands miles away from each other, he was sending her letters and waiting an answer. And when she has finally said YES, he planted lilacs along the wholeIbarRivervalley. Uros’ love was pure and sincere. That’s how he charmed Helen d’Anjou and made her one of the most important queensSerbiaever had. There is a belief that the royal family ofAnjouis a saint family and that they were special as Templers were. They were protecting Christianity in The Crusades. Helen was one of them.
One of the most successful woman inSerbia, not Serb by origin, she was the greatest founder of all times. She built a great number of monasteries and today she rests in Gradac monastery as a nun. TheIbarRivervalley is now days one of the most beautiful inEurope. It stretches between the towns of Kraljevo and Kosovska Mitrovica. The old town ofRaswas the first Serbian capital. In its surroundings there are authentic Orthodox monasteries of Žiča (the first Serbian archbishopric), Studenica, Sopoćani, Gradac. Seven centuries ago lilacs smelled all around and fulfilled a heart of a great king.
I’ve visited all these monasteries and I went there with a story that I was looking for peace, not a lost jewel. I lied to myself trying to suppress the feeling of confusion. My last conversation with Marco was very hard. I got tired of this love. “Mila” it seemed someone is calling me. I shivered when I heard that. “Mila, Mila”, again. I turned around looking for that mysterious voice. No one was there. Rain started to fall. I ran towards my car trying to protect files. I wasn’t aware what had happened at that moment. Was it only wind or something else? It will remain a mystery because there was nothing around, only cold rain. So, nothing. I think I was imagining things in my crazy head.
„I’ll go back to my research, I’ll think of the gem.“ There are stories that the jewel is hidden in the depths of Ibar River. I did’t find it in this valley because it would be crazy to dive. But, I wasn’t disappointed. I started to believe in a story seven centuries old, that anyone who steps in this valley will have luck in love and marriage, just like Helen and Uros. I went southeastern by Ibar highway and than by main road Kraljevo-Krusevac to Vrnjacka Spa. When I was near this spa, the old memories came back.
„I will drink coffee in King and remember the old days.“ I used to come here very often with my father. While he was alive, he had health problems with his stomach. We used to come here almost every weekend so he could drink this thermal water which is like a balm for the inflammation of the stomach, gallbladder, bladder and diabetes.
„Then I will go to the Roman spring and make a wish.“ I believe in that spring. I made three wishes and all came true. Of course, one of those was for love. Not about this love between me and Marco but for more beautiful love, real love, my torment.
The murmur of water dragged me to the Roman spring. All wet, I stepped on the stairs. This spring was discovered by accident.
„Yeah, like everything in Serbia happens by accident“, I said ironically. Properly carved rock was found there during the research. From its cleft was flowing mineral water. 200 pieces of Roman coins from Valentinian period were found near the spring. In the same depth was found the first known Roman bath. Later, above this spring was built a pyramid to protect it.
„There were found a ring and a key. Is it the gem?“ I was confused when I realized it leads nowhere. I leaned over the spring with one desire. I must find that gemstone. Looking at the walls of glass pyramid, I took out a coin on which was Studenica monastery and closed my eyes thinking about the gem. I am lying, I also thought about love. Not turning back, I dropped the coin into the spring. At that moment my phone rang. „Marco calling“ In a way I was glad he called me. He was angry when I left. But I didn’t answer. Feelings in me were mixed, rage and despair. I didn’t know what I wanted. I stood on the bridge of love, but this time alone. A few years ago we swore to everlasting love. Sparkling water of Vrnjacka River makes eternal love lives forever.
In 1914, when shooting started in Balkan, a young teacher Nada and Serbian officer Relja fell in love. Everybody talked about this love. But the war came very fast and brought all the horrors of the world. Officer Relja was sent toGreeceto fight, to Salonika Front. He went and never came back. In the meantime he fell in love with a beautiful Greek and he broke up his engagement with Nada. Legend tells nothing about his life, about his destiny since then. Nada was so sad and she died very young and unhappy. The most famous Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic wrote a song about this love, “A prayer for love”. By legend, lovers inscribe their names on a padlock that attach to the railing of the bridge and throw away keys into the river. This bridge was the favorite place where Nada and Relja were meeting.
I was trying to catch every breath. My emotions were suffocating me. I quickly went to the parking lot. Right next to me ran a girl and pushed me aside. She was covering her face with her hands. It seemed she was crying. And when I turned to her, she had already disappeared. The passers stopped by to admire the charms of this bridge. I was wondering who is now thinking about me. At that moment I felt something sharp and firm under my feet. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I quickly bowed so no one could notice and picked up unlocked padlock. Someone probably dropped it. Maybe it was that girl who ran by me a few moments ago. That’s why she was crying. Should I give it back or throw it away? There are written initials. “Mila and Marco together forever” I held on the railing of the bridge cause I lost balance.
“Where did this came from?” I trembled. “This is Marco’s and mine padlock. Does anyone know who took off this padlock?” I was screaming at loud. This was a sign.
“Sorry Miss, could you give me back my padlock?” a male voice said. I froze.
“You think of this padlock? It’s yours. I’m sorry.” I was trying to justify myself to unknown man.
“Yes, that’s mine. I’ve lost it moment’s ago.” he said a bit daring.
“You are Marco and your girlfriend is Mila?” he grabbed the lock from my hands and I didn’t get an answer. I rushed to the park so I could get away from that place.
I barely found my way through the crowd on the square. Everything was very strange. Why is this happening right now? Obviously it had to be like that. But maybe I’m just imagining. There are a lot of couples, Mila and Marco, and all of them have the same phrase “together forever”.
“Yes, that’s right”, I finally concluded and went to refresh myself with a cold juice. In summer in Vrnjacka Spa temperature is always lower for five degrees than in other cities. But now it was too hot… This spa is not just spa but also a very attractive tourist destination.
Cultural summer includes many various festivals, festival of literature, of old-timers, summer carnival. The small square is full of tourists who spend a great time here for little money. I was thinking “Is there someone like me in this small world who also believes in a story about the gem?” I was looking for at least one person like that. But I didn’t find it…