The Water Keeps Gushing

Water is scarce in Sarajevo, but it is wasted.

The Sarajevska Pivara. This is a genuine brewery in Sarajevo that is featured in the novel.

The pipes at the brewery can not be deactivated, therefore, the water is always gushing. It slithers down the pavement in an undrinkable stream.

The sight bothers Kenan, but he is aware that it is impossible to prevent. The least he can do is fill up his water bottles cautiously, praying that he won’t spill anything, thus contributing to the waste.

However, Kenan’s attention on the water is disrupted by two mortar shells that impact his region. He is undamaged, but stunned as he glares at the swarm of critical injuries. One lady lost her foot, and another man ended up with a mutilated ear. Fortunately, other civilians are tending to the causalities. They are lifting the wounded to cars, where they can be transported to safety. Kenan does nothing but observe the scene. He wishes that he could offer support, but instead returns to the brewery.

The wasted water from the brewery continues to bother Kenan. “He reaches out and puts his hands over the pipe. It’s easy to block, and the water stops, but all around him other pipes continue to flow. He’s soaked to the skin, and he knows that he can stand here with his hands on the pipe for a year and it will make no difference” (Galloway 164).

The gushing water symbolizes a larger idea. This idea explains Kenan’s reluctance for supporting the surrounding casualties. He does not see the relevance of helping.

Kenan perceives the water as life. In Sarajevo, life is wasted everywhere, just like the water. Blood keeps spilling, and spilling, and spilling. There is no way to prevent that. If you provide assistance to a casualty, that does not forestall the men on the hills from inducing more injuries. The other water pipes keep spilling.

Often the wounded individuals are permanently damaged, such as the woman without a foot. They are hurting and they will always hurt. It is easy to assist them, but it will never heal them. Blocking one water pipe is a simple task, but the water will flow again as soon as the hand is removed.

This is Kenan’s mindset. It is human nature to collaborate with each other and assist those in dire conditions. The key to success is cooperation. Among the pandemonium of war, when wounded civilians require aid, some people simply do not offer support. They are not fearful, they do not see the relevance of how their minor contribution will make any significant change.

It is a terrifying mindset, since it is stepping away from human instinct. Through this beautiful analogy, Steven Galloway has presented us with more psychological damage that is evoked through warfare.

However, Kenan had other motivations to temporarily avert the water’s flow. “Buildings are eviscerated, burned, gutted, streetcars destroyed, roads and bridges blasted away, and you can see that […]. But when people die they’re removed, taken to hospitals and graveyards, and before the bodies are healed or cold the spot where they were shattered is unrecognizable as a place where anything out of the ordinary happened. This is why the men on the hills are able to kill with impunity” (Galloway 164). The water is cleansing the scene, removing the blood and human residue. Kenan believes that this keeps the men on the hills from punishment. Without any evidence, nobody is preventing them and they do not feel the need to stop.

The water is life, and as life continues to flow in this city, they wash the death away. The civilians who are removing the wounded and carcasses erase any evidence of mortality. Therefore, the men on the hills only see a continuous flow of life. A continuous flow of targets.

This is Kenan’s mindset. He feels pressured to assist those in need, but he unconsciously believes that cleaning up the scene is covering a wound that must be shown.  The ideal option to assisting these people is to tackle the source by allowing the men on the hills to visualize the aftermath of their massacre. It is unsettling to imagine a city that benefits from a mess of disembodied corpses, but this is Kenan’s mindset.

War drags people from their human nature and inflicts psychological damage in numerous ways. Steven Galloway is quite skilled at demonstrating this.

Life is precious in Sarajevo, but it is wasted. The blood keeps spilling.



“Gushing Water.”, DigiCentral, 12 Apr. 2016. <;. 

“Sarajevska pivara.” Sarajevska pivara, wikipedia, 15 Dec. 2017. <;.

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