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Interviews

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The Interviews- Page 12

Beharica Jašari

Mrs.  Jašari requested that she not be videotaped.

Bostan- Novo Brdo

Three 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 corner.

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.

He 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.

I 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 chains.

I 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 place.

I 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.

"I can't tell him that," Adem whispered to me.

"Why not?"

"He is the community leader."

Beharica didn't want to speak any longer.

BJ: 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.)

Have old were you when you were married?

BJ: I was 16 years old.

Did your father tell you to get married, or did you decide?

BJ: My father ordered me to get married.

We celebrated Vasilica in the home of my father, but we don’t celebrate it here.

Beharica's Home

How did you celebrate Vasilica in your father’s home?

BJ: We’d kill 9 Kurban. We’d prepare enough food for three days.

Do you have children?

BJ: Yes, I have.

Have many children do you have?  

BJ: Some of my daughters are married, and some of them still live here.

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Fatima Jašari

Mrs. Jašari requested that she not be videotaped.

 

 

"My father wanted me only to work, and I worked all day long. He told me, ‘If you don’t like it, go get married."

 

Bostan- Novo Brdo

FJ: I used to live in Gušterica,* in my grandmother’s home. I then lived in Pristina, and after I came to this village. My mother’s name was Fiza.  

 (*Gušterica lies 18 km east of Bostan.)  

When I was young, we lived in an old brick house. We had no blankets; we had plates made from old, dry pumpkins, and we didn’t have enough to eat. We slept on the ground.   mp3

Why do Roma girls get married so young?

FJ: What can we do? They (a bride’s parents) accepted my brother. My daughter finished school, and then she escaped*.   mp3

(* FJ’s daughter did not accept the marriage her parents arranged for her, and ran away from home.)

What were the wedding customs you followed?  

FJ: Customs here? We had a cart, pulled by horses, with a rug in it, and the girls all wore dimije.*

(*Dimije are traditional baggy Muslim women’s trousers. They were imported by the Ottomans, and are still worn in Southeastern Europe .)

Fatima's Son & Grandson

Where were you during the 1999 war?

FJ: I knew it would happen. I stayed in my home the first night. I couldn’t sleep; none of us could. After that, I had to go (hide) in the forest.

Why did you go to the forest?

FJ: We had to go into the forest because we were frightened. mp3

What kind of Roma are you?

FJ: We are Ashkalija.

What is the difference between Roma and Ashkalija?

FJ: My daughter married some Roma guy, and she forgot the Albanian language. But I couldn’t give her to an Albanian.

Was your mother an Ashkalija?

FJ: Yes, she was an Ashkalija. And my father came from Slovinje*.  

(*Slovinje lies 20 kilometers south of Pristina, in Lipljan/ Lipjan municipality.)

Did you attend school?

FJ: No.

Why didn’t you go to school?

FJ: My father wanted me only to work, and I worked all day long. He told me, ‘If you don’t like it, go get married. mp3 I had to earn money; my mother was already dead.  

The Interview

Did your father attend school?  

FJ: No, he didn’t, but my daughter finished school.

Mrs. Jašari before the Interview. May 2003

 

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Naza Beriša

Naza Beriša is an IDP from Obilić/ Obiliq town.

Watch a Video excerpt of the interview.

Plemetina Village

NB: 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 in Obilić. mp3

(*Donje and Gornje Nerodimlje are in Uroševac/ Ferizaj municipality)

(*Belaćevac is a massive coal-mining complex in Obilic municipality.)

How old were you when you were married?  

NB: 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.  

When a girl gets married, she must color her hair one night, and she has to cry.

Naza on her Wedding Day: Circa Early 1960's

Why do they have to cry?

NB: That is our custom. They have to cry.

And 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.

Why you have to pay a dowry?

NB: I don’t know. Everyone has to pay, and we must as well.  

We 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 the Sarma.

Tell us about your life in Nerodimlje.

 NB: We lived better, because we were rich. We had everything we needed.

Have many children do you have?

NB: I have six children.  

Belaćevac was an Albanian area. Did you have any problems there before?  

NB: No, we had no problems there.

What about Obilić town?

NB: We had no problems there, but after this war everything changed.

Where were you during the NATO campaign?

NB: I was in my apartment in Obilić. We had a shelter there; we stayed there every night, with the Serbs, until the morning.

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Bajram Beriša

Mr. Beriša is an IDP from Crkvena Vodica.

Watch a Video excerpt of the interview.

"Did you have to pay a large dowry?"

"No, I didn’t have to pay a lot. I only had to bring a case of beer."

Plemetina Village

BB: My name is Bajram; I come from Crkvena Vodica.

How old are you?

BB: I’m 36 years old.  

I was 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 Plemetina.

(* BB 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.

What kind of Roma are you?

BB: I am a Muslim.

We 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 noon passes they must go to collect more willows.  

On 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.  

Did you attend school?

BB: I finished five years of primary school. After that I had to work privately*, because my father became ill.

(* Private indicates manual/ day labor.)

How old you were you when you were married?

BB: I was 21 years old.

Did you have to pay a large dowry?

BB: No, 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.

Where were you during the 1999 war?

BB: During the bombing we stayed in Crkvena Vodica.

Did you know that the war would happen?

BB: We knew. We stayed at home the whole time. We covered the windows with blankets; we thought the explosions would be big. mp3

When did you flee your home?

BB: When Albanians came back. We had to come here.

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