The man with the melon

Previous: Personal recollections (continued)


One of the articles sent to me by Brigita was in Slovenian. With a little help from a Bosnian friend of ours and “Google translate” I discovered that it was by a journalist from a local, Ljubljana newspaper that included part of an interview with my mother.


The Memory will be a man with melon …

Victim of British aircrash can not find words of thanks

Every passenger in the Ljubljana hospital who survived the ill-fated Britannia crash remember him: “the man with a melon” as he is called. This anonymous man comes from time to time with a watermelon in his hands to the hospital. He holds their hand, cuts off a slice of watermelon and goes. The sisters say that the Macedonian works in a chemical factory. To the injured people he was a man of boundless human solidarity in distress. They cannot find words of thanks for this simple and sincere gesture of emotion.

The man with the melon is not the only one. Every day, coming from all provinces, letters of encouragement. Unknown people come and bring flowers and fruit, offering rooms if they are wanted to finally recover with them.

Margery Gatford, who has already left the hospital and is waiting for the recovery of her son expresses these feelings.

“Ordinary people have brought us so much flowers and fruit. I cannot find the words with which to express appreciation for the kindness and goodness of the people.”

And they (the survivors) all say that they will, as soon as possible, get back to Yugoslavia.

“During an accident we know your country much more and deeper than as ordinary tourists. We will never forget all this goodness”

says Mrs Gatford.

“I cannot describe what we felt. You know, they came when we had troubles, they gave us hands and just watch. With this they gave us the courage and the will, more than if they spoke. The heartfelt emotion does not need an interpreter.”

“Last Saturday a man came to the hospital and when he saw the injured people, went and came back with flowers and peaches. Some nurses have brought fresh figs that we have eaten for the first time. And day-to-day unknown friends visit.

“They were bringing flowers from their gardens”,

said Mrs. Gatford,

“and that we were particularly fond of. I am very glad that I have the opportunity on behalf of all to deeply thank all the unknown people in Slovenia who were so good. We will never forget this and will never be able to repay.”

Mrs Gatford has tears in her eyes. I tell her that I have seen British rescuers and doctors after the earthquake in Skopje and tell her that human solidarity is not debt.


I have left the wording almost the same as that which resulted from the translation as I think that best conveys the heartfelt emotion of both my mother and the journalist.

“And tell her that human solidarity is not debt.” says it perfectly. In this time of complete devastation for us and others, family, friends and complete strangers supported us solely through their love and humanity.

I still remember the “man with the melon” sitting at the foot of my bed. He was dressed in a black suit and a white shirt: he wore a black hat.

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