Nobody came out normal

“I knew what it meant to be beaten, I used to get into fights, but that thing when you sit, stand in a cop shop and must not defend yourself, and don’t know from what direction they will whack you…I feel like vomiting even now when I hear the bullshit like ‘You cannot raise a child without beating him’, nobody became better because of beating”.

My late dad trashed me from my earliest days, whenever he came back home drunk, and he drank a lot. I can’t say I’ve got used to being beaten, I didn’t, nobody can get used to that. But I became a fearful child, I knew what was there in store for me as soon as I heard dad yelling at mom, from the very door. I remember that I felt worst when I was waiting for him to start beating me and I knew he would.

When I grew up a little bit, I stopped crying when he was beating me. I just watch him, going nuts, I would hit him as well, but he’s bigger, he would crash me like a bug. Probably that’s why I early started getting into fights in the school. If somebody accidentally scratched me or looked askance at me, I would go wild, could not control myself. Everybody feared me, but, thank goodness, I have never beaten the weaker ones, I always found it disgusting.

Well, then I started with petty thefts, well, we all did, you remember, during recesses we would go to a shop and those who would steal a juice or a chocolate bar would be top dogs and the others would follow, not to look as wimps. Then, there were ice-cream boxes in the summer. Well, then, fuck, some stopped at that but I continued. The first kiosk, the second, the third, something here, something there, until I’ve got caught.

The grey house: When the cops came out of the dark, I was shit scared, like when I was a kid and hearing dad entering the house. I was with T, they had beaten us black and blue, immediately. I had a habit of going wild when being hit, but I didn’t dare at all to defend myself. It was like that in the old days, you should better kill yourself than hit a cop, it was not like it is today.

  1. and me, we were questioned separately. I confessed everything, all our thefts, and who wouldn’t?…Slaps in the face, then blows to the loins, then with a book on the head, those guys really knew how to beat, that was their job. Well, only later on did I realize what a real cop beating is, but at that time I thought I would die of it. Besides, they swore real badly, real nasty, so not only that they beat you badly but you also feel like shit because of that. I know, I wasn’t an angel, and everywhere in the world cops beat the people caught for theft, but…No, I’m not saying that I would have turned out to be different if they had not beaten me like that the first time, it would have been just the same maybe, I’m the only one to blame, I didn’t know where I was going and what I wanted, but, nevertheless, there was not a single kind word, only “smash!”, “slap!” I mean, I knew what it meant to be beaten, I used to get into fights, but that thing when you sit, stand in the cop shop and must not defend yourself and don’t know from what direction they will whack you…I feel like vomiting even now when I hear the bullshit like ‘You cannot raise a child without beating him’, nobody became better because of beating.

We were kept overnight and then released, we were under the age of 17. In fact, they crammed us into a car and drove home. The neighbours watch, the cops get me out of the car, yelling and chaos in the house. Well, hell, it’s a small place, you know it too, everything is remembered forever and you remain a thief forever. At that time, dad did not dare to beat me anymore, I had become stronger than him.

Some people tried to help me, they did, my homeroom teacher pledged for me not to be expelled from school although I did everything there, she liked me and knew what it’s like in my home. So, the first time I was not expelled but later on I was, so I changed school, once, twice, thrice, but wherever I went they knew that a problem was on their way, and they acted accordingly. On the other hand, I did not try to ease my situation either and eventually I did not finish high school. The few normal friends I had, the ones that had not gone astray and whom I was still socializing with, they dissipated, went mostly to Belgrade to study. And cops like cops, as soon as someone steals something somewhere, they call me to check out if I was involved, no matter if I was or wasn’t.

On the Belgrade asphalt: When I was fed up with that, I too went to Belgrade, although it turned out to be the same shit, only a bigger city and you are not immediately known. I did all kinds of stuff there, with people like me. Cars, shops, pharmacies, fights, I can’t tell you how hard I was boozing and did other things…I already had a big police file and I don’t how many trials, once I borrowed money from P. – he studied at the university and I knew him from childhood days – to hire a lawyer and I never gave it back to him, and he didn’t have much either, he gave me his whole student loan. You know, when you turn into an animal. Eventually, I found myself in prison. Convicted for two and a half, did about two years. It doesn’t sound so much considering everything I did but when you are there every day feels like a year.

And that is something completely different. I don’t know how much cops had beaten me before that and how many nights I had spent in a cell, but that’s not it. In prison, you fear guards and inmates alike, you can’t tell who’s worse. They are not all the same, of course, among cops and criminals. There are cops who try to be straight, dunno, do their job but do not go over the edge, they realize you are a human, whatever you may be like. But there are also sadists who like to torture and abuse; they have put on a uniform and nobody dares to oppose them. To complain of them? Don’t be silly, who’s ever seen a cop testifying against a cop? And who’s ever seen an inmate being trusted more than a cop?

Moreover, in prison, everything is connected somehow. Inmates and cops hate each other but everybody knows that everything can be arranged and who’s connected with whom. So, if I inform on a warden for doing something to me, and they did all kinds of things to me, tomorrow somebody will organize 5 or 6 cons to catch me and beat me up, and boy, there are really some sadists there! So, you keep your mouth shut, you put up with everything, your back to the wall and you pray to survive every single day. As the saying goes, that’s something you wouldn’t wish to your worst enemy. So, I’m not gonna talk about it anymore.

Happy end: Well, after all, I fared relatively well, compared to how I could have fared or how the others fared. You remember T, he was in prison when the war in Bosnia began and they offered to release him if he would go to war. Well, he went and died. D. and Ž. are still in and out of prison, they haven’t got a dog to call their own. When the shit hit the fan in the 1990s, a half of my thieving buddies got into some serious bushiness, became rich overnight but had not lived longer than 6 or 7 years, they were killed either here in Belgrade or over there, in our country. M. died in prison, he fell because he had bumped off someone here in Belgrade. S. became a monk, gave himself to God. I was smart enough to stay out of big shit, I neither killed nor maimed anybody and I didn’t deal dope. I could have, they called me but I ran away from that.

 Honesty, my wife has pulled me out of that so far, and I’ve got a child, without her I would have ended up like my buddies, although I managed to fuck up my marriage as well. When I say “pulled out”, it means I became a taxi driver and stopped thieving and fighting. What else could I do? Who would hire an ex-con and trust him? Neither would I, perhaps. And I’m not “normal” like others, I’m not. Nobody remains “normal” after prison and hard labor, it’s where even those who fall accidentally go bananas. Actually, those have the hardest time, you know those guys who did some embezzlement or stole some money from their company, or were squealed on but were innocent, well, they fall apart or hang themselves.

I booze less, but I booze a lot, I take pills sometimes, I can’t sleep well. I go to the church. I have kidney problems, no wonder given the amount of beating I took there, it hurts where I was beaten most; some strange bruises appear and don’t fade away. Eventually, the age would produce its effects even in the people who did not have my experience.

I am not whining, the past is the past, and I don’t know who’s mostly to blame: me, dad, cops, the state? Nobody cajoled me and maybe I would have turned out to be a different person had I not been trashed all my life, but when I start to think about it I feel like falling apart so I avoid it. Of course, I regret that it was not the other way around, I am not like those dumbos who could only become criminals and are proud of it.

I have a kid, he’s everything to me and I fear only for him. I have never hit him, but we are not in good terms. I guess he never forgave me that divorce and everything that I was and did. It hurts me, but I try not to show it to him. When I’m with him, I try not to shit much about what he shouldn’t do, once he shut my mouth “What the hell are you talking about?” And what could I say back? Fuck, I needed fifty years to understand why I am the way I am, and even that doesn’t always help me.

Momir Turudić


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