The Bosnian word for sorrow is žalost. But this isn’t the same word at all.
Sorrow is the thousands of lives lost to a pointless war in a foreign country, to bombed buildings and natural disasters. It’s the families rendered homeless and poor by the corruption of Wall Street. It’s the broken marriage, the suicidal brother, the grieving widow. It’s wiping away the tears and the snot with a tissue, only to throw it away in the trash can. That is sorrow.
Žalost is something entirely different. It’s the tainted air of a fallen country. It’s the imprint of grenades on concrete apartment buildings, the abandoned country-side homes, the crumbling concrete bridges and the dirty river running through the center of a city. It’s the starving dog being pecked at by birds, the crippled grandmother dressed in a headscarf begging for change, the five-year-old selling rotting pears on the side of the road. It’s washing the tears out of a handkerchief yourself, starching the fabric, folding it neatly and tucking it away in your pocket where it will wait for more tears. To je žalost.