minutes into this interview Beharica received three guests- two younger men
leading an older man by the arms. The older man was blind: his eyes were the
color of dirty porcelain. He had no irises, no pupils. The younger men sat him
in front of us. The blind man was Beharica's son. The younger men stood in the
blind man launched into a tirade- against Kosovo, against the UN, against
Albanians, and against us. He was stuck in Novo Brdo; when his child was sick,
there was no hospital to take him to. There was no assistance; there was no
work. He himself had never been to school.
demanded that we establish bus service between Novo Brdo and Gracanica, where
the nearest hospital was.. At the least he wanted a car placed at the disposal
of the 40-odd Roma left in Bostan. And he wanted us to drive him, right now, to
Pristina to sort this out.
kept my mouth shut. But he knew I was here. His demands were focused at me.
Beharica kept quiet; she stared into space. Her cabinets were locked shut with
finally spoke. I told him that no one cared. This was not my own apathy; it was
the real situation. The fates of 40 Roma in Novo Brdo- the hilliest, poorest and
least populated municipality in Kosovo- did not even register on the radar
screen of UNMIK and others. Especially because the Roma in Bostan were not
nearly as endangered or threatened as Roma elsewhere. Maybe they'd get lucky and
find a man who knew the Kosovo etiquette for getting things done- bonding with
local officials over brandy and cigarettes and making friends. It could happen:
maybe they could swing a once-per-week Serb doctor's visit to take a look at the
told him that the one thing he could do is get his friends in Bostan together,
get rid of the Roma community leader, and find someone who was capable of
representing and advocating for Bostan's Roma. Whatever community leader Bostan
had, I said, wasn't worth a damn.
can't tell him that," Adem whispered to me.
is the community leader."
didn't want to speak any longer.
I was born in Janjevo*.
Janjevo is a predominantly Catholic town in Lipljan/ Lipjan municipality.
Janjevo’s population is Croatian, Roma, Ashkalija and Albanian; the
Serbs fled after 1999.)
old were you when you were married?
I was 16 years old.
your father tell you to get married, or did you decide?
father ordered me to get married.
celebrated Vasilica in the home of my father, but we don’t celebrate it here.
did you celebrate Vasilica in your father’s home?
We’d kill 9 Kurban. We’d prepare enough food for
you have children?
Yes, I have.
many children do you have?
Some of my daughters are married, and some of them still live here.
My name is Naza; my surname is Beriša. I am 64
years old; I was born in Nerodimlje*, and I was
married in Belaćevac*. I lived in Belaćevac
for 50 years, and after (my husband retired) we received an apartment. We
lived in Obilić, but after the last war we came here. It was nice to live
and Gornje Nerodimlje are in Uroševac/ Ferizaj
is a massive coal-mining complex in Obilic municipality.)
old were you when you were married?
I was 16 years old when I was married. I didn’t know the man, but when he
came, he was able to pay a lot for me. I was visiting my uncle, and one day my
father came to my uncle’s home to tell me.
a girl gets married, she must color her hair one night, and she has to cry.
do they have to cry?
That is our custom. They have to cry.
she will carry bread into her new home; this means she’ll be bringing good
things. And the new family will throw sugar on her. Before the dowry didn’t
cost as much as it does now, and we didn’t have to buy a lot of gold.
you have to pay a dowry?
don’t know. Everyone has to pay, and we must as well.
celebrate Djurdjevdan, Bajram and Vasilica; we are Muslims, but every Roma
celebrates these days, so we celebrate along with them. For Bajram we bake
pies and baklava; on Vasilica we kill a goose, and then we prepare Sarma. We
stay up the whole night because we believe an old man will come to steal the
food we’ve made. But that’s not real; no one’s going to come and take
us about your life in Nerodimlje.
We lived better,
because we were rich. We had everything we needed.
many children do you have?
have six children.
was an Albanian area. Did you have any problems there before?
No, we had no problems there.
about Obilić town?
We had no problems there, but after this war everything changed.
were you during the NATO campaign?
was in my apartment in Obilić. We had a shelter there; we stayed there
every night, with the Serbs, until the morning.
name is Bajram; I come from Crkvena Vodica.
old are you?
I’m 36 years old.
born in Crkvena Vodica; we were there for 45 years. My father was born there,
and my grandfather as well. But because of this war*, we had to come to
refers to the war in the present tense, not the past. With his situation- his
freedom of movement, his security, and his status as an Internally Displaced
Person- the 1999 war continues.
kind of Roma are you?
am a Muslim.
celebrate Božić, Bajram, the New Year (Vasilica)
and Djurdjevdan. On Djurdjevdan we must buy a lamb. In the morning, the women
and children go to the fields to collect willows and flowers; they sing Roma
songs and Serbian songs. After the passes they must go to
collect more willows.
Vasilica we’ll rise early to kill the turkey, and a goose; then we’ll make
the Sarma and bread. The visitors will come in the morning; we’ll have meat,
and beer or tea. Then we’ll sell the Sarma at the next morning’s feast. The
guests must ask me: what is the price? If I name a big price, and they are poor,
then the Sarma must be cheaper.
you attend school?
finished five years of primary school. After that I had to work privately*,
because my father became ill.
Private indicates manual/ day labor.)
old you were you when you were married?
was 21 years old.
you have to pay a large dowry?
I didn’t have to pay a lot. I only had to bring a case of beer. That was all
they (the bride’s family) wanted.
were you during the 1999 war?
During the bombing we stayed in Crkvena Vodica.
you know that the war would happen?
knew. We stayed at home the whole time. We covered the windows with blankets;
we thought the explosions would be big.