Nasiha

I'm Nasiha.

Jugovci village, near Prijedor. That's where I'm married, otherwise I'm from Rizvanovici, also close to Prijeclor, closer even. I finished five years of school and then left My mother and father are peasants in the village. My husband's also from a village, Jugovci, that's where he was born and that's where lie stayed. He came to visit, his mother's from my village, he came to see his relatives and that's how we met. He's a farmer and taborer, lie worked in Tomasci, near Prijedor, in the mine where they dry the ore, that's where lie worked. He worked, he had a salary, we lived off of his salary, we had a bit of land, not Much, sixteen dunums.

He worked in the mine and we lived okay. He'd get up at five in the morning and go to work, a bus took him, he worked above-ground, not in the pit, then he'd come home, he had a bus around four. He's good to me, we've been married sixteen years and he's never raised his voice. He's not rough, he's more gentle like.

At home I had the vegetable garden, grew corn, wheat and when he'd come home from work he'd help with the work. I had a cow and fed it. And fed the kids. The kids would go to school and I'd be home, you know how much work a woman's got.

Yes, I built a house, I built myself a separate new house, all on one level, it was a good house, I built it and then the war started.

'Til then, 'til the war, everything was great, they'd come and visit, we built the houses together. That's how we built our houses, we'd give them a hand, they'd give us a hand, all for free, except when it came to putting up the roof, then we'd pay a professional. And when the roof went up, there'd be good food and drink, a roast on the spit, everyone would sit down and drink. That's how it was, when the war started, our neighbors from Volari saved our people. Only one boy was killed in our village. Then some men came in a truck, I don't know where they were from, it was full, and they went from house to house, you out, go sit up there in the truck, he says, if you don't come out I'll kill you, they said the same thing to my husband. And they went up there and were lined up in an orchard, and then a neighbor from Volari came by and asked what was wrong with the boy lying there, and they laughed and said be was wrong, his name's Mohammed. His name was Mohammed, and they asked him what his name was, Mohammed, he said, and the guy fired, killed him on the spot, in front of everybody. And they'd lined up all our men, when that Serb neighbor from Volari came by, a miner, and said he'd take them to Prijedor, so they let the men go.

The next day my husband went to collect the dead, seven truck- loads, farther on, where I'm from, Rizvanovici village, and Bicani and Sredice, that's where he collected the dead, they'd all been killed, their bodies were piled up, he went and collected them, and I waited and thought he'd never come back. For three days, eight of them went from here. They didn't go to unload, they Just kept loading onto the truck, and nobody knows where the bodies were taken, nobody knows. He'd come home at night, silent, he didn't talk. That was, I'm not sure now, not May, it must have been later, it was June, June '92, 1 don't know the exact day.

My father was killed, killed in the war. In his village, in Rizvanovici. He'd sent my mother to stay with me, that's where she was, my mother and sister-in-law, and he stayed at home with my brother. They took my brother away to a camp and he stayed behind, he was in the corn field, he'd gone out to feed his two cows, and went into the shed to get some hay, when four of them came, my uncle saw them. They beat him up that night, beat the life out of him, and then the next day two of them, they say, went into the house, and the other two went after him and killed him in that shed, holding the hay like this, carrying it on the pitchfork. That's how they killed him.

We stayed in the village 'til August. And while we were there our neighbors started leaving, they went to where I'm from, taking their things with them, their furniture, those same neighbors of ours, while we had to stay inside and hide, we weren't allowed to look. One of them was leaving, carting his things away late at night, and there were those puddles down at the bottom of our house and his tractor overturned and he came up here to say whoever needed flour could go down and take a sack, he was a neighbor. Then a woman went down, she had kids but no husband, she took the flour for herself and used it.

Then we had to leave, they ordered us to leave. We went to Tukove. Tukove is near Prijedor, we spent the night there, and the next day, when the convoys came, we got on a bus, and they beat us in the bus.

They beat up my husband. The guy was looking for German marks, he put his pistol to my man's head, like this, he said, c'm on pretty boy, on your feet, if you don't collect so many German marks and gold, you'll be the first one to get it, he said. And my man got up to collect it, some people gave, others didn't have anything to give, and my son, he'd finished sixth grade when we left home, my son had a hundred marks on him like this in his pocket, I didn't even know about it, here I've got some he said, crying, they'd started beating up his father again, here, I've got some, and he started taking it out of his pocket to hand it over, but the guy whacked him with the butt of his gun, and then I got up and said I'm going, they can kill me but they're not going to beat up my child. Then a woman said, sit down woman or they'll kill you, let them, better they kill me than my son. Then they beat up the others, they didn't hit my husband anymore, they left him alone, they beat up the others, and the three of us Just cried, you cry but you can't make a sound. That child of mine saved him.

Our neighbors from Volari didn't turn our people in. They said they were going to Prijedor and told the men in the truck to let the people go, so they did, Just that one boy was killed. The folk from Volari, they didn't do anything to us, like some did to others, and later, if they did do something, I don't know about it. But, speaking for myself, I don't know how I could live with them again if, finally, things settled down, if we all had to be together, live together I mean.

But I'm going back to Bosnia. It's not free yet, but we'll go back. I don't know anything about the house, nobody's been there, if we can go back to our place then we will, if we can't, we'll go someplace else, we plan to go back to Bosnia wherever. What life'll be like for all of us after this war, after everything, I just don't know. Chatting with you like this makes me forget everything and think maybe we'll live better. Maybe.

It didn't have to be this way, you know, it didn't. First they drove us out, now we're driving them out. You keep wandering around, no place to call your own, no house of your own. I've got to go now. Make dinner for the children.

"Dress warmer", she said.
"I'm okay like this. I'm fine."
"You're not fine. You're wandering around too, you've got no place either. it's cold."

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