My House is real story based on true biography and described the importance of own home and liberty. The book is firstly written in serbo-croatian language because all facts and the story is important sign of terrible circumstances of war in Bosnia 1992 - 1996
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The war is terrible. Negative. It is something that destroys people, especially the children. It leaves a deep mark that is passed on to generations in the form of various inexplicable fears, from one to another. Those fears are a weird process, they are playing with us, and they are turning into something that is attacking us all the time, making us closed-minded persons, killing us inside. There are two possibilities: either we inherit it from the great-grandfathers who survived wars or who had died during the war, or they were in the war situation. One of the forms of survivors of the war is the common name: “A REFUGEE” or “A FOREIGNER”, the one who finds himself or herself in another country due to war circumstances, that is in a foreign country and is being forced to seek the cause of fears throughout their life.
Fear may also initiate many other things. For example, it reveals people’s talents, it awakes hope, desire. Fear may become a person who is walking, sitting, sleeping next to us, talking to us. Fear may also save our lives. That fear is in us, in refugees, in people who are lost, in expelled ones, in war orphans.
The fear leads us to God. Then it is a little bit clearer where to put it. Dear God has its own methods and ways to evoke us to Him. Who discovers them, finds its life again. An encounter with the fear is an encounter with the God, with ourselves. What aren’t we all able to do when we are scared? Many things, but most importantly, is to start living our lives.
My life was full filled with fear. My decisions were part of me and under the influence of those various fears. But they were good decisions and close to God.
I began to write this story when I wanted to discover where my fear was and what it made out me.
I had a severe flu for days. I couldn’t eat anything neither to drink. I was just laying down and bubbling. I was in pain. I cannot even remember when I was laying down in bed for more than two days. I felt the time stopped, and I was told to stop for a while, thinking about where to go. Take it easy. I asked myself how it all went so far. Quickly. As in that train in 1992, from Belgrade to Munich.
On May 6, 1992, I was allowed to do everything. Even entering to Germany. Paradise on the Earth, the promised land full of various miracles and beauties.
My journey continues, there is no end. Perhaps it is better that way, otherwise I will lose my hope that I am in the land of wonders, or that the real feelings will be shown eventually.
This is our story. The story of the generation 1967/8/9, or somewhere around.
My name is Ana.
I was born in Bosnia in 1968.
I grew up in the family of professional educators, with books and commitments, and working habits. I was polite, straightforward, with no mistakes, an honest person. There is a power and pride running in my blood, the partisan spirit. My father used to teach me not to have a fear of anyone and noone. He was always supportive to me. I had a lovely, careless childhood, full of joy and I was smiling all the time. I had many friends, the first love and the first disappointment because the man of my dreams didn’t want me, and I loved him. Then a little bit later there was “more serious” love, the wedding was announced, and at the end it was a breakup.
When I close my eyes, I feel the smell of fog and autumn. The beginning of the winter. My nose, my lungs were filled up with this fragrance, with this power that gives me the memory of a neighbour who was wearing his pajamas and slippers, throwing out the garbage from the balcony in a rush. It was the third floor. No consequnces. Every time you burst out of laugh.
In November 1991, the first refugees came to my town. Those were people who suddenly, without a reason, had to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere in order to stay alive. My hope was that it was happening only now and never again. I just began working. I had been trying so hard to graduate successfully and I thought it was necessary to do so for my country and my people too. I was sure that a great future is in front of me. My first days at work were full filled with the scent of winter, and behind there was a fear of war which was about to begin. I said “NO” to this reality, my reality was my future, my work, good earning, being married to a prince of my dreams. Who needs this war? I must fall in love with the right one!
I was facing one another reality.
Our offices were becoming more and more empty. Men were going somewhere, most likely to the battlefields in Croatia. The women were desperate, they were talking bitterly about everything and were scared for their husbands. I was just surprised and dreaming about my future. I have no idea to let myself to think about bad thoughts. I was going out every night with my friends to our favorite cafes. No one believed that a war disaster was even closer. From an hour to an hour.
At one of those evenings, at my favorite cafe which was full of folks, hapenned exactly what I was longing for. A pair of beautiful blue eyes, dotted with long thick lashes, was standing in front of me. And even closer, we were forced to meet each other, pushed by the crowd, into conversation.
- “I saw you today in the firm. I was visiting my cousin. “
“Aah, yeah” - first of all I was surprised from where this young man knows me. Then I added: “You are the one who has no girlfriend! That’s what your cousin told me!”- I replied to him.
I was trying to hear what he was talking me. It was so loud inside, typically for the weekend. He tried halfway to turn around and to introduce me his younger cousin: “This is my aunt’s son, my cousin”-pulling him over towards us apologizing to the people around us. It was a young man, tall, skinny, with a lovely green eyes and a sweet smile suggested us to go out so we could hear each other much better.
- „I am Filip, this is my little cousin, Aleks!“
„I am glad, I am Ana!“-I said briefly because I couldn‘t catch my breath. I was instantly in love. He was handsome, seductive, simply irresistible.
„Can we go somewhere else for a drink tomorrow?“-he asked me, and I accepted by nodding. I was very happy.
As a refugee from Croatia, he got a job in a discount store, using some connection. His uncle, Aleksić, a very prominent politician in the town, found him this kind of job, in these difficult times. Filip was blown away and grateful for this job, because without money you cannot survive. I was so happy having him next to me. He gave to my life the meaning, the hope that nothing bad will happen. NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN!!!
He told me about his childhood, which was not simple at all. He grew up with his mother, a teacher, descent from Banja Luka’s region. When she got pregnant with him, her boyfriend left her and got married to another woman. She took her son and left the family in Bosnia.
She went to Croatia to seek a fortune. She raised Filip by herself, with much effort and giving up of everything. Sometimes a man appeared in her life, but no one could replace Filip‘s father. Filip met his father at puberty for the first time. His father was looking for them when he got divorced from his wife. He had no place to live so he settled down with the two of them in Croatia and he immediately found himself a mistress while Filip‘s mother was at work. The two of them immediately kicked him out. Later on Filip tried to live with him, but his father was so obsessed with women and drinks and he did not care about him at all. In the end he was involved with a much younger woman and became a father for the fifth time.
Filip could not find a father in him so he returned to his mother in the village. Since then he had not seen him neither he had any contact with him. After all he had told me, I was very fond of his mother, a great survivor and a „woman hero“.
We used to see other every night. We were so in love so I could not sleep. I was hardly waiting to see him again so we can love each other, laugh and dream together. All of that, what a couple in love do. Nothing was important to me, just him. My parents were mostly going on my nerves. My brother was very distant. I just wanted to be with Filip. He was the only one who full filled my wishes and hopes. How beautiful was our future. My family, his family, our secure jobs. I had a feeling that everyone in this world loved me.
Every day I was going to work full of enthusiasm and strength. I was in love. And happy too.
But as soon as I came into the firm, I would have heard only those stupid war stories. The fears of all those hags. For me everything was exaggerated, exaggerated fear of no foundation. I was constantly asking myself what they were all talking about. Was it so important? „Where‘s the war here, I ask you nicely?“
It was going on my nervous so I was looking at my watch all the time asking myself when working day would end. I was running home to get ready for a date with Filip. Again at seven o‘clock, at our cafe. I have not even noticed my mother. Her comments I used to hear on the way out.
- „Ana, my dear child, be careful. You do not even know that guy well. It‘s an ordinary refugee, with no education! What is wrong with you? You had been studying and learning so much and you just waste your time with this guy.„
My father had already asked around about his mother. And about his origin. His mother was a fool, without a husband. „Did you know he grew up without a father? Do not see him as often as possible, aren’t you ashamed to be with a man like this? Do you take the first man who comes on your way, or what? „- she was angry and sometimes she banned me from going out. Being 23?! I was totally careless about anything. It was my life. I just followed my dream.
One December morning, all of a sudden, echos of explosion began. You could hear the explosions so near, as if someone was doing it behind the corner. In fact, these were explosions and shootings coming from the Croatian territory, across the Sava river. My father jumped: - „Children, stay at home. Outside is dangerous! THE WAR HAS JUST BEGUN!„
- „Mirko, do not scare the children with no reason. It is nothing, the fools will calm down again! I‘m going to the market, everything will be all right! „-said mother and went out so we could not notice how scared she was.
My best friend, Vanesa, went out one night with us. We wanted to order a pizza and have a drink. I wanted her to meet him.
She phoned me the next day and said that he was not on my level.
- „You are much better than him, Ana! Your mother is right! He does not have your spirit!“
I could not hear anything negative about him, although I knew somewhere deep in my soul that Vanessa was right. And that my mother was right.
I defended myself, and I also defended him.
„Vanesa, you know what he was going through, as a refugee? His mother and he went through a lot on their own!„
For her the very concept of him being a refugee out there, was enough to make her own image of him.
„Why did not you want to go to war?“-I asked him one evening after making a passionate love.
- „War is stupid! I hate the army! You certainly know how much I hate Croats! These are the worst scumbags in the whole world! Once when I was in my village, back there in Slavonia, and there was a Croatian girl who I slapped so hard that she almost fell on the ground unconsciously. Then you have got the picture, right?„
I was shivering, I was warm and cold suddenly at the same time. What should I think? My mother is a Croat! Should I hate her? How should I hate her? I just wanted to go home, to my parents.
My father was constantly sitting in front of the TV and listening to the news. He was nervous about politics, for him all were bad except Serbs. Milosevic and Serbs were fighting for the survival of Yugoslavia, and the rest were a corrupted scumbags who ruined such a beautiful country.
- „My father was killed by ustashe in 1942! I have never met my father, neither my uncles nor my brothers. I was left as the only male child in the family because my mother had hidden me. And those scumbags went out again in the light of day! Do not let anybody to tell me in my house that they are not scumbags, is it clear to all of you? „-he used to walk around in the living room, cursing and shouting.
Mother could not even say anything, she was listening secretly to Croatian radio and did not want anyone to see it because she wanted to hear about the situation there and whether it is dangerous for her mother, brother, sister and her family. They were just living in the so called Krajina region where they were in danger of chetnics who were „wandering around“ and wanted that part of Croatia for themselves. I asked myself why we needed it at all. And I love the sea, I grew up there, I love Croatia, I love my grandmother, my uncle, my aunt. What about these stupidities!
The New Year’s Eve of 1992, we welcomed it anxiously and gloomy. There was not even a single firework in the centre of the town, as it used to be celebrated every year. The town was full of refugees, the temperatures were below zero. People with small children were freezing and waiting for any kind of accommodation and food. They lost everything. The house, money, clothes, everything they worked for all their lives. How much human life is worth? Today, nothing. Each of them has lost someone or something. Everyone has their own sorrow.
I do not know if there is anyone who can tell me today that this war was good. We had to lose all in order to learn what was worth of living. How was it for an individual?
For me it was like this:
At the beginning of 1992, the difficulties had been started for me in the firm. The atmosphere itself was heavy and sad. Women were crying non-stop and swearing against war and politics. It was the worst to hear them swearing on everything else what was not Serbian. Men of Croatian and Muslim ethnicity took Serbian names and surnames and went to the Serbian army. Those ones who did not want to do it, had to disappear from the town territory. People from mixed marriages got divorced a lot. Those ones who did not want to get divorced would disappeared overnight, and went over the border, going abroad. There were a lot of vacant jobs arose in Banja Luka’s “Toplana”, where I wanted to start my internship, as a young graduate economist. I was the student of generation, graduate with the best mark. Omer who used to share the office with me did not come to work one day. I felt sick, at a moment. I began feeling that something was wrong. The director had phoned me to come to his office, to come immediatelly.
- “My dear young colleague, what do you say, is it okay for us now, without this Muslim and Croatian scumbags? Right now you can be certain that your career is guaranteed! In order to be like that, my dear child, you know you have to be cooperative ....”
- “In what way cooperative, comrade director?”
- “Well, look, this is the document we released last week. Here please, you are going to sign that Omer had insulted you on a basis of your nationality and that we had to sack him. He is a scumbag, left on his own, but it does not matter! He will not set a foot in here anymore!
“- director got red all over his face, began breathing heavily and put the paper in front of me to sign.
- “May I think about it for a while, comrade director? I would rather not sign it immediately,”- I asked him quietly.
- “It is not a problem, my little daughter, there will be thousands of documents to sign. This is just the beginning! We Serbs have to stick together, now is our moment. It is enough for Muslims and Croats to run this town-Banja Luka. Now it is our turn. Well, take this paper and give it to your father. Let him explain it to you once again what is all about. Do not forget that you work here just because of him, is that clear?”
“I am going to give it to him, thank you, comrade director,”- I went out of his office and felt like a big shit.
“This is a horror, this is a madness,”-I said it to myself.
On my way home from the “Toplana”, I was crying bitterly. I knew I would leave this place. The only question is when.
“You are going to do what your director told you to do! The situation is as such! It is a war, and there is no justice in war!”-my father told me by raising his voice when I gave him the paper that evening.
- “Father, it is not fair!” ...
“Yes, that’s not fair, but you need this job, you earn some money to get yourself independent, right? The times are difficult!”- he said in the end and did not want to discuss it with me about it anymore. The phone rang. It was Filip. He had to see me urgently.
“I am going to Germany!”- he told me as soon as he saw me.
My throat was dry, it was too much that day for me including director, my father, and now this with Filip. I started crying.
“Do not cry, I am not going to the end of the world! Only a few months until this shit here is over. If I stay now, my mother’s whole family wants me to go to war. I do not want it! I cannot! Please understand me. I have to go. We also owe some money to my uncle. And I had already been in Germany at Vaso’s place, a year ago. Vaso comes from my village. He is drunk, but I can stay with him until I manage it on my own...”
- “Why don’t you wait a little bit longer, this situation will calm down soon. My director told me today that only Serbs will remain in the town. So we have a greater chance of living better without Muslims and Croats. “
I knew I was talking stupidities in which I did not believe. I never dared to speak in favour of Serbs. I just wanted him to stay, at least not leaving me right now. Because of him, my life had a meaning, and he wanted to leave me.
“Vaso is an ordinary drunk, but I will put up with him until I manage to ...” -he continued trying to make his decision. It was clear as a day.
“Yes, it is better to be there with him than in the street” - I managed to mumble.
He is going to leave me for no reason! What is wrong of being here? Here is everything, family, mother, me, his work! Nothing was clear to me. The only thing I hoped for is that he would change his decision by February. He had decided to go in February. Maybe?!
We were still seeing each other every night. We loved each other as mad people. He promised he would call me every night, that he would always think of me. I was afraid of losing him. I did not want him to go away from me. Our young love deserves a chance. Our families are here. Our country ... Our house ...
The month passed by so quickly and he was ready to go. It was not easy to find a transport to Germany because the roads through Croatia and Bosnia were mostly and completely blocked. The only way to go to Germany was through Serbia, and then Hungary, Austria ...
- “Little one, I will make it possible, don’t you worry. Believe me and everthing will be fine. It is better for me to go now, in time. Soon everything will be closed and then I have to be in the war. Do you want me to die? “
“Of course not, you promised you would call me every night?”
He kept his promise. He used to call me every night, sometimes even two or three times. We whispered to each other over phone, we loved each other and I missed him.
News began to be more horrible. Many people were killed and injured, expelled. The figures have already been beyond any normality. The critical boundry of the war was closer to Bosnia. The war from Croatia came over to Bosnia.
“We have to defend our Bosnia and Herzegovina, our Yugoslavia! We must not allow nationalists to lead our people, to play with our lives. People, the Yugoslavs, rise up against nationalists! Mr. Milošević, Mr. Izetbegović, Mr. Tudjman, get away from our sights, you bring us evil! We are Yugoslavia, one country with three nations who had always lived together in harmony for ages!”
Many of our artists, musicians, actors, our Yugoslav intelligence had invited the people to have a common sense.
The locomotive of death had taken young lives throughout this region. Every day.
At the “Toplana” was a pathetic atmosphere. No one had the will to work. For what, for whom? Anyway everything was ruined and destroyed! Having an idea in my mind, I knocked at the director’s door.
-“Comrade director, I would like to ask you to get a month off. I‘m going to visit my boyfriend in Germany. I would like to stay there for a month.“
He took a little sip from his bottle, trying to get up on his feet, but he lost the balance. He fell over my feet and being drunk as he was just looked at me and began giggling.
- „Ha, ha ha, little one is in love, so she wants to get away from here to her boyfriend to Germany! And to come back again? Aha!?„
- „Let me help you get up, comrade director?“
„Go and tell to my secretary to give you the confirmation letter and to bring me some coffee, I can manage it on my own!“ –somehow he got up on his knees and sat down in his chair.
I took the confirmation letter and ran off to Filip‘s cousin. Jana used to work as a solicitor on the second floor. She looked at me weirdly when I told her about my intentions.
„Filip has always been weird. And my aunt too. As a little boy he used to cut off the chicken necks ... „-she looked somewhere in the distance through the window and was trying to hide her tears so I could not see them.
I did not understand what she wanted to say to me. I did not even hear it, in fact.
- „I am just going to visit him, Jana. Who cares about Germany, I could not live there. I would die there without my parents and my country. What is on your mind?“
On my way home, my tears were running down my face. „Bye Banja Luka, who knows if we will meet again. You are my town, my sun, my life. I will miss you. Why are you so miserable right now? But I will be back soon. Wait for me. How should I say this to my parents? There is no return. I must tell them!“
After lunch I overcame my fear and I said to my parents what were my intentions.
„Well I have hardly found you this job, and you spit on it?!“-my father said to me immediately.
„Father, what is happening right now is stupid. And I do not want to sign any resignations to people in the firm, do you understand that? I made up my mind and I am leaving. When I come back I suppose it will be better!„
My mother has just turned her head on the other side and my brother was looking at one spot.
The days began to be shorter and the time was running quickly. Everything had to be done quickly so that something would not be forgotten.
Every day was special. The information was presented with different intonations, and depending on the position at the battlefield, I had to change my own strategy. Sometimes it seemed that the simplest way was the safest way, through Croatia and Slovenia to Austria. The other night, by listening to the news you were just feeling depressed. There is no way to pass on this way or another, or even if I fly in a plane.
It was mid of April, 1992.
At the „Toplana“ was a painful, miserable and frightening situation. There were talks about husbands who went to unknown battlefields, and where they were sent away. Jana left our town with her husband to Croatia last week, at her mother-in-law left somewhere to the seaside where they had a summer house. Her husband was mocked and kicked out from work, and as a Serb she was held in her post, just because of her children and her husband had to disappear from the town. I have heard from Filip‘s mother that she was unhappy and how they were thinking to go to Stuttgart. Talking about me, the desire was even greater to get out of here, out of this hellish town and out of this crazy country. In a month until I get back, everything would be as it was, I comforted myself.
Colleagues at work and neighbours disappeared just like that, today they were here and next day they were gone. It was “Dnevnik“ at 19:30hrs, in which was spoken about counting of the dead people, wounded and refugees. Colonies of refugees came in and out of Banja Luka, every day.
„Ah, the crazy heads will calm down,“-my mother used to say. Secretly she was listening to news on Croatian radio, worried about her family which lived where the heavy battles were taking place in Croatia. She was suffering silently, but she was with us, with her children and our father. She continued doing her job with much strenght and enthusiasm. Nothing had prevented her from continuing to keep the atmosphere of some kind of normality, though nothing more was like that. Sometimes she would say something about the unfairness of the war, but my father did not let us to talk about it.
The town was half-empty. From time to time, the shootings were heard from somewhere, somewhere in the evening far away from here you could hear the thunders from the distant battles. In the dawn it was already quieter. While we were sitting in our flat, four of us, and listening to all the noise around us, for me and my brother, it felt as a fairy tale.
„It is just a small war“ – our father used to tell us and pretending that he has more important things to do than to fool around. So my brother and I continued with our old quarrels, playing games, everything was as it used to be.
Filip used to call me every night somewhere around „Dnevnik“. He was worried. I told him there was nothing to worry about. Everything was a lie what he was able to hear in German television and radio. Here is all right and as soon as this April is over I will come to visit him, as we have already agreed.
- „Have you seen my mother? -he would ask me from time to time.
- „If you can believe me, we invited her to have a coffee with us. We will be glad if she comes“- I consoled him one night while we were talking.
„Seriously, she is complicated person, but if she has decided to come to you, it means she really likes you,“-he replied, as he was a little bit worried.
My mother was not really delighted about it, but she promised to welcome her nicely.
Trying to live as if nothing was abnormal, was the real thing. When you are twenty-two years old, in the flower of youth,
everything is vibrant, easy going, the life is like a rose that grows every day. Life is wonderful when you have those two blue eyes waiting for you, when all loves you and admire your beauty, youth, and enthusiasm.
„My beauty, my beauty,“ –I could literally hear how Desa was shouting in my ear, Filip‘s mother.
„Tell to your family that I will come the day after tomorrow, but only for a coffee. I have to meet my sister to help her out with some things,“- she informed me being in a bad mood. I have figured it out that she was probably tired of work, of all those negative information that were constantly going around us.
My mother was disappointed thinking that a refugee should come to her house. Literally she used to yell at me to forget Filip, that he was not the man for me, and especially Desa, no one could stand her.
„Marko would not leave her if she was good person,“- my mother used to repeat it, every time we would talk about that subject. It was rumored that Marko, Filip‘s father, was a very handsome man. My father used to know him when they were young, from the Law school, afterwards their roads had split up. Marko moved to Sarajevo, and my father continued to do his advanced training in Belgrade. When Desa was pregnant with Filip, he had already had a relationship with another woman, a good looking blonde, a colleague. He saw Filip after his birth and disappeared without a trace. Desa remained alone with her child in order to work in a village school north of Croatia, close to the Hungarian border, and he got married to his blond and had two more children. That marriage lasted for several years, while he was not sick of it, and decided to travel from Banja Luka to Sarajevo and there he settled down with a much younger woman with whom he got another son. All of these combinations were unexpectable to my parents.
„Like father, like son,“- my father used to comment, wanting to keep me away completely from my intention to travel to Germany.
Day after day, even my best friend Vanesa with whom I was intensively going out, was no longer in town. The last time we met, I told her that I was going to Munich soon.
„Vanesa, there is no life for us,“-I used to tell her.
„It is the best to get away from here, so if God permits for the situation to calm down, we will come back, so I have to come back in June,“ – were my last words. I phoned her several times after that, but she did not answer to my calls. I walked to her flat where she lived, everything was closed.
I was surprised by her phone call from Germany, she gave me her phone number, and hung up on me. OVER!
IT WAS OVER. WE SPLIT UP. MY GENERATION, WHERE ARE YOU?!
Just before leaving, and yet it was not defined how should I go to Serbia, then to Germany, Desa came to meet my mother.
It was a brief but bitter encounter of two mothers. One against the other. I tried to put myself in between. Fortunately, Desa was in a hurry, so she had a coffee quickly and ran away to do her business . The comments of my mother were unbearable. It was not important for her how I decribed Filip as a beautiful, worthy, a good guy.
„She is and awful woman, and divorcée. She is contimenated woman, you are going to make our lives miserable, and above all to yourself „- my disappointed mother was preaching to me.
I did not even pay attention to her comments, I organised my departure with my father.
As the end of April was nearby, so the odds for some „normal“ departure from the country were totally impossible.
„I have to get out of here as soon as possible, father, I have only one month off, I need to go back to work, do you understand that!?“ - I was persistent and waited for him every day when we all came back from work. And I wanted from him to explain to me all the possible chances, the people he used to know in the town, as well in Belgrade and further more, even in Germany, with whom to contact myself, whom I can call if I would need any help.
The battles in Croatia were more and more intensive, in Krajina the shootings were even closer. The traffic was temporarily interrupted until further notice. There wasn’t any traffic, it was too dangerous.
„But there must be some way out, father. You have always talked to me that everything is possible, that there is a solution for each problem,“-I said, intended to even walk where I planned to.
„Tomorrow I have to meet dr Manojlović, he knows someone at the Military hospital. When the next transportation of the wounded people to the Military hospital in Belgrade will be arranged, we will try to put you with them in one of the helicopters.
- „Well, I have never been flying before, how come?“ - as if I refused that offer.
„I will not be sitting in a helicopter, some bus will be coming soon“ - I was convinced that I was right.
„General Todić said that the situation was very difficult, the border was closed, the battles were scattered. In all areas around the Sava river and when it was calm, they allow a helicopter to transport wounded people to the hospital. Besides, I am so sure that nothing will happen to you. You gave your resignation at work, so right now you can go or not! „-he was already angry at me because of asking questions about something that was clear by itself.
There was nothing left for me than to pack up my bags, the most basic things, and to take my last salary and via Belgrade – taking off the helicopter to Belgrade. It was one day left until my departure. We have heard on the radio that there was relocation of the Croats, running away regardless of the chetniks hordes heading to the sea. Two of those refugees were my maternal grandmother and my uncle. The way how my mother cried, I would never forget it easily. She was scared and worried how they would cross to a safe territory. In fact, the chetnik movement in Krajina was very strong. Those days, it was not known how many of the dead and refugees really were there.
With the power of a superman, my mother used to teach chemistry and biology to the children she loved more than herself, to build them as humans. It was often the case that the graduated doctors and engineers came to thank her for the extraordinary professional and human component she taught them. God knows how my mother was feeling back then! I am leaving now! Her family, they were refugees. Her husband and her son were every day on the guard, in the army as reserves, and if it is going to be a war then they would be in the war.
Fortunately, her brother was a student in Split. He used to know a lot of people and he managed to find a place for his grandmother while they did not get another flat. Somehow they survived those first days as refugees. Apparentely, my uncle was involved in politics, and he had some privileges too. Thank God, at least it was easier for me to leave my parents, otherwise I would stay with my mother.
„Do not go, you will be sorry when you will have to struggle with all what I used to struggle, without my family living near to help me out,“ -she tried to talk me out of my trip, the night before my departure.
„Where are you going to my child? I do not know that Filip, he is not a chance for a lifetime for you. Desa is awful, why do not you take care for yourself, my child? „- she continued talking and talking, and talking ...
4th of May, 1992. At dawn, the sun has just come out, it would be a lovely day. It was already warm, as it was July. We had to hurry up, my father and I.
„My dear child, why do you need that huge suitcase, they will not let you in a helicopter with so many things,“ –my father shouted at me, pushing me quickly and my suitcase into his car, so nobody could see us. Only mother was still peeking through the kitchen window from where she used to be when I went out with my friends or went to college to sit my exams. She used to walk around me and gave me some comments on whether I was dressed well, if my hair was ok, and she would have wished me all happiness in the world and then she disappeared to do her chores.
„Do not go ...!!!!“-she cried out after me.
I waved her and sat quickly into the car as my father ordered it to me.
Driving towards the future Banja Luka‘s airport, we were both being quiet.
It felt like a lump in my throat, I could not say anything. Just this act was enough to know where we stand. My father was driving his car with some kind of a lamp in his throat. From time to time we looked at each other, he would just speed up as it was too late, we had to hurry up, everything was fine.
„Everything will be all right, my dear daughter, do not worry,“-he finally spoke up.
„You were flying before and now for the first time by a helicopter to Belgrade. You see, I have never been flying before in a helicopter, you are the first one,“-he encouraged me. No one knew to encourage me, as he did, my daddy. When he was talking like that, I had a feeling that all was gone, that flight from which I had a great fear, and that I had already arrived to Germany and came back to them, to my usual life.
„I‘m going to see how people live in Europe“ - I tried to make him smile a bit.
His eyes were wet.
My future was holding my hand and taking me to those moments where I was destined.
We had to wait for an hour or so. Helicopter had not been landed or it was not given the permission to land, who knows. Waiting for it was so short, because looking at my father‘s eyes I could still have my whole life to live. In an hour, there was the transaction of strength, will, optimism, love, and faith that life was beautiful.
He took out the wallet and gave me a picture of the Virgin Mary with the Baby Christ. „Keep this and God will protect you.“
- „Come on father, do not exaggerate, I will not bother you anymore, no one will make you worry and ask you for something, it will be a bit boring for you. But not for long, here I come in a month again. These stupidities will calm down soon and there will be no war.„
And it was already time to go. They had to take another position where the helicopter would land.
My huge suitcase, with no little wheels, started to be heavy again including three handbags with everything and anything what my mother had packed previuosly, just in case.
It was a real military huge green helicopter with the Red Cross sign. I imagined the helicopters as a bit smaller. Upon landing, it nearly dragged me in with its loud propeller. I had to go in, it was no longer possible to exchange any word with my father, it was too loud and windy. He helped me to put my huge suitcase inside and he moved aside. Now everything was up to me.
I went inside to find a seat. There were no standard seats. It was intended for wounded people with loungers, and those ones connected to the instruments to survive untill Belgrade, to VMA. So I was sitting in the back of the helicopter. As if I wanted to protect myself from a possible fall of that helicopter. In my hand, I held a picture of Virgin Mary and held it tightly in my hand: „Please God, help me to survive this flight.“
I was so sorry for the wounded guys who were flying with me into rescue. One very young man was lying down without both legs and yelling, crying, cursing on everything that was alive on this planet. One was vomiting just before the start of the flight itself. The other had a blunt look in his eyes, he looked somewhere. A doctor, who was also a younger man, was yelling at them not to fall down spiritually, and that everything would be better when they get to the military hospital.
„Will they sew new legs to me there?!“-asked the young man without legs.
„And we will do this if it is necessary, and now let‘s go,“- doctor shouted, so I believed him too, as he was yelling to those poor guys.
I was in the air, for the second time in my life. I liked it. I was looking at the fields, at our Bosnian landscapes. Down there everything was so nice, that 4th of May 1992 until we started to fly over the area where the battles took place. I saw a scene like in Rambo‘s movies, tanks, smoke, fire, little people standing at the gunpoint. That was down there and I was up. Some boy started to moan how they would hit us and that‘s it.
„Don’t give us that shit, shut up and shut your ears if you are scared!-a soldier yelled who was there as our escort.
„And you, little one, turn around your head, this one is vomiting now!“ -he talked to me, so I had to turn my head.
When I was allowed to look again, they had covered his head.
I tryied to look down, not to look at my travel companions.
We flew over the frontlines and headed to Serbia, Belgrade. Headed to better or ...
We landed at the VMA and I had to drag my suitcase without saying goodbye to anybody and to figure out where the bus station was, or railway so I could take my trip to Germany.
Firstly I looked where I was. I did not know in which direction I should go, there was no one to show me the way. My only idea was, at first I had to get off the hill and then go further heading to the city, to those houses that were seen from here.
So I did, walking slowly with my huge suitcase toward the first houses.
I was walking and walking, relatively slowly because it was downhill.
I came to a street where it was a tram station. Ah, the miracle happened. There were a few people waiting for the tram to come.
„How can I get to the bus station, that is, the railway station?“-I asked a woman who was standing in the group.
„It‘s the best for you, my child, to come with us right now into „number two“ and when we get down, I will show you the way,“-she said calmly.
These people here seemed to me quite relaxed, as in some other country. Yes, and they were in another country, just it was not understandable for me being in another country. That is why I enjoyed this day, the 4th of May, because right there where I was, it was my country, the country of peace and various miracles, beauties and charms that only the homeland can have. That was it! The situation of despair I left behind in Banja Luka was not normal. „God, let all be the same again as soon as I get back from Germany, but now help me to get out of here ...“
I was praying while I was in the tram. Oh, how wonderful is this, being in the tram! I am just going to tell my mother how Belgrade is beautiful and big and how do they have these trams, so you can get everywhere, wherever you want. You can feel the breeze, everything is green and the sun is shining all around. I even felt the first fatigue. It felt to me as I had a nap, my mother came to my dream with a worried look on her face.
The voice of that women woke me up: „We are going out, my child. I‘m going to show you where to go,“- she pulled out of my hand to the other side of the street.
„Here where we are now is Terazije. Have you ever been to Belgrade before?“-she asked me and talked to me at the same time.
„Yes, I have. A few times with my parents, but that was different. Honestly I have no idea where I am. Once my father took me here, back then we travelled by train, I know that the station was very beautiful and big „- as I was trying to convince this unknown woman that I was sure where I was going to.
She looked me a bit in disbelief, feeling sorry for my misery while carrying my huge suitcase, without no wheels. No sense at all.
„Where are you going, anyway“?-she asked me in the end.
„To Germany! Thank you for your help, now I will go on my own, nothing to worry about! „- I waved her and got into the next tram that would take me right to the railway station or bus station.
The drive was somewhat a bit short, the station was appeared in its glory and its beauty, just as I remembered it in the past when I was here with my father at the same place, a few years ago.
I was running heading to the counter. Just to buy a ticket and then I will get in touch with my family.
„Good evening,“-I said to the lady at the counter.
„Yes, may I help you ...“- she did not even look at me while she was counting the money, waiting for me to say where to go.
„I would like a ticket to Munich, one way,“-I said it with a pleading voice. She looked up at me.
- „Where are you from, my child?“
- „From Banja Luka.“
„What type of passport do you have?“
-“A Yugoslav one.“
„I do not believe they will let you in. The passport has been altered since there was a war between Croats and Slovenians and us, there is no Yugoslavia“- she was just nodding as she was trying to divert me from my intention to go to Germany.
„I also have my student visa. I have heard that it is easier to travel, I believe, for those ones who has a new passport „- I was still persistant.
„Besides, I will ask the conductor to help me if he can. Just to cross the border and everything will be easier „...
- „Ah, little girl, that border crossing is critical. How did you get here, anyway?„
„I have come with my uncle“ – I lied to her so easily.
- „So does your uncle have a plane, or what? Come on child, we all know what the situation seems to be.„
„Here is the ticket so you can try to cross over. I wish you a good luck! „- she gave me the tickect which was valuable to me as a piece of gold, I thanked her and hurried up to the first telephone booth to talk to may family, to tell them not to worry.
„Halo, mommy, here I am in Belgrade!“- I shouted at the handset when I heard my mother‘s voice.
„You know how beautiful Belgrade is!“-I continued delightfully to share my happiness with my mother. This feeling of freedom in the free country, the feeling that everthing is beautiful when everything is normal around me as it was before so you can admire to all beauties of this world.
„Oh, Belgrade is a wonderful city,“- replied my mother.
- „Enjoy, the weather is so beautiful, green everywhere you go.“
- „I went through Terazije, I just saw it out of the tram.“
„Your father had studied there for five years,“- I heard that my father was shouting from somewhere.
I felt relieved talking to them. I was thinking to call Desa. But I was not, Filip and I would call her when I get to Germany.
I bought a newspaper, a croissant, a chocolate, and a bottle of water, and headed to the platform number five.
„Five, five is the number of May, the fifth month,“- I thought, it would be all fine.
It was already getting dark, eight o‘clock in the evening, the fourth of May 1992, Belgrade.
According to the timetable, the train supposed to leave at 21: 05h, the platform five.
I am going to find a conductor and talk to him and ask him what is the best place to sit, in which wagon and what it will be easiest way to let me cross the border. I heard that the Austrians were the worst, if they let you go, everything is fine.
„Just to put this huge suitcase into the train and to sit down,“-I thought, getting closer to the platform five.
The train for Munich was already there. The steam was all around and from time to time you could hear the rumbling of the train announcing that it was the time to leave the platform. The controllers were tapping the wheels and the passengers were already peeking out of the window. Some of them had a dinner and some of them put their curtains down. Several people passed by me and one of them I thought might be a CONDUCTER.
According to my logic, I was heading to the locomotive thinking that no one controlled it. It was the best for me to get inside.
„Good evening,“- I said to a person who peeked out of a locomotive.
- „Are you a CONDUCTER?“
„No, I am not, there is Mr Brane, he is responsible person“ – pointed to a colleague who was walking next to the first wagon, smoking a cigarette, as a dude.
I came to him and said hello.
„Where are you going, little girl?“ - he asked me by putting out his cigarette, pressing it on the ground.
„I would like to go to Minhen, if it is possible. Would you be able to help me out somehow so I can sit closer to you and you can talk to the border guards to let me through?“-I was speaking quickly, explaining to him my situation. At the same time, begging for help, as everything was depending on him.
„Come on, get into the first wagon closer to me, and we will handle it somehow“,- he pointed at the entrance and helped me to put in my huge suitcase.
„Well, thank you so much!“ –I said by getting into the first wagon that should take me to Munich, Germany.
I felt some sense of security in this first wagon and presence of this good conductor, full filled my heart.
I was sitting alone, as it seemed to me, alone in the wagon. I thought I was very lucky that the conductor was so generous to meet my wishes and promised to help me. Right now it was important to think about crossing the Austrian border. I have already prepared a passport and a student visa, so I can have it constantly in my hands. Spontaneously, without thinking, I begin to pray to God. For the third time I caught myself praying to God. Although He was never mentioned in my family home, He started to exist when I was all alone in some kind of a train, in some distant Belgrade and even when I decided to travel to some distant Munich, to unknown Filip with whom I was madly in love. I got scared when someone opened the door of my wagon.
„Well kitty, is everything ok? Mr Brane will visit you tonight, do not worry. We are just about to leave, something made us to wait longer, ... so they do not want to give us a sign to leave the station, but we are about to leave... „- he briefly told us everthying, that I could not understand all his words.
There was no reason to worry about.
He was lost again somewhere, probably to his working place, and I watched the station, the trains, the people, the beautiful evening, the sky full of stars. Well, if I could take the stars with me....
We were waiting for an hour, the loud sound of locomotives told us it was time to leave the station.
Bye, my country!
I am leaving!
It was nice for me to look at those landscapes by travelling and looking those vast plains, the Panonia region with its attributes, I could even hear Đorđe Balašević in my ears. I hummed his songs and admired the vast plains all the way to Hungary.
At one point I twitched. I was napping and my mother came to my mind. She smiled and cried at the same time.
That incubus totally frightened me and I could not sleep anymore. I thought of her words, she was talking to me about the risk that was ahead of me in this moment of my life, about Desa, Filip‘s mother, about Filip himself and generally how was I doing the reckless things in life.
„Mother, I‘m only twenty-two years old,“- I whispered and wished that message would come to her.
In front of my eyes were just those blue eyes and soft lips that were waiting for me in Munich.
A little bit longer, we will love each other again as in Banja Luka, but more freely, more beautifully and endlessly.
The feeling that my entire heart and stomach would break down, full filled the whole wagon and the train itself which should take me directly to him. Because of him I did it all. How beautiful love is ...
Because of these great fantasies I couldn’t sleep. A bit later I felt I could fall asleep, but his smile would have appeared before my eyes, and I would have been awaken, watching again where I was going to, thinking of all the dangers that were awaiting for me at well-known borders.
„Hey kitty, we are nearby the Hungarian border, you know they are okay. Do not you worry, „- Mr Brane said to me by peeking his head into my wagon.
„Well, I thank you so much, you have no idea how much you help me,“-I replied with a smile.
„Uh! Now let me breath deeply in order to survive the first border.„
„Dear God, just let me go through with no trouble,- I said to my companion again.
Indeed, we stopped at a small border area and waited for some time so the controllers could pass through the wagons. And so we moved heading to Hungary. There were no problems, I have not even seen the border guards, they just passed by and gave the sign so the train could move on.
„This has already been a good sign,“- I said to Mr Brane, the conductor, in the hallway near the wagon. We smoked a cigarette, enjoying it.
„As I have already told you, while the Mr Brane is here at your side, nothing to worry about“- he said with a tight-lipped smile and winked at me somewhat shiftily.
The sky was extraordinary beautiful. The stars seemed to be born one after the other and were more and more numerous. The moon was missing. That evening, on the 5th of May 1992 the moon was not there. It was already a night, everything was quiet, just the sound of the wheels of my destined train had woken my consciousness.
I tried to fall asleep. Just before my eyes was only Filip. I imagined we make love and kiss each other ...
I was suddenly surprised by the opening of my door.
Brane the conductor was standing there and smiling.
„What is it honey, aren’t you sleeping?,“-he said.
„Not yet, but I was just about to ...“ – by saying that I tried to tell him „Good night.“
He came in and sat next to me. He put his arm over my shoulders and pulled me to him. He was trying to get my lips. I felt very uncomfortable.
I got up and started to make noise.
„What‘s wrong with you? I don‘t have those intentions, I have just asked you to help me. It will be the best for you to get out of my wagon, I will sit somewhere else. And something else, I don’t care if I don’t even cross the border ..., get out! „- I tried to catch some air and to calm down.
„Okay,okay, well, who do you think you are? When they have already let you go abroad, respect the rules, honey, ... „-he stood up and walked out.
Firstly I was thinking what to do. Nothing. I grabbed my suitcase and jacket and went to search for another place, far away from this idiot. I have been searching for a long time and I have not found anything. I got back to my wagon, it was at the beginning, pulled the curtain down and sat in my little corner trying to calm myself down. From time to time I managed to have a nap.
Austria was getting closer and closer. In my stomach there was a feeling of tension and at the same time I was scared to cross the border, asking myself whether they would let me go through or not.
In the dawn, conducter Brane entered into my wagon once again.
„Hey, have I scared you, don‘t be angry at Mr Brane. You know, this is a fucking life, Brane’s life, always on the road, and when I get home my wife doesn’t want me to be there „- he began to justify himself by sitting again next to me.
„But I had a pussy for tonight, and you know how good she was, all wet, and tight so I could right away ...“-he smiled at me.
„It‘s one of our girls, she works in Salzburg. Soon we will get to Salzburg, so I just want to tell that Mr Brane is here to help you ... „
„You don’t need to worry, if they do not let me through I will go back where I came from, thank you for everything“- I turned my head toward the station where we stopped for a while near Salzburg. The conductor came out and greeted a woman with a teased hair, high heels, wearing tight jeans and having a small purse in her hand. I asked myself how was she able to put her things into such small purse. She went back heading to the exit.
It was announced that border guards will come in, first Hungarians, then Austrians. When they took my passport they just affixed a seal and went on.
I was happy about it and went on dreaming about my encounter with Filip. „There, so much fuss about it, and for nothing. Yugo‘s passport is Yugo’s passport „- I thought and fell asleep.
Austria seemed to be bigger as it is. I have heard someone was saying that sometimes it took more than seven hours for a trip to Minhen.
The Alps were fascinating. I wondered at what height we could be. It all seemed to me so gigantic, huge. Until this moment I thought Bosnia was mountainous. And here we are, little Bosnia with its little hills. It was getting dawn. I tucked myself in my homemade sweater and leaned my head to the window watching the landscapes of an unknown country we used to learn in history classes. The Second World War had been over for a long time, but the repeating of facts about the horrors of the Third Reich kept us all on the alert because someone once said that „History is the teacher of life.“ The Third Reich was back then, and now this is a way out from a poor Bosnia and the war in it.
I was no longer preoccupied whether I would cross the German border or not. Neither Mr Brane-the Conductor appeared. I was able to daydream in peace about my final encounter with Filip.
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