We spoke about the infrastructure, we spoke with people who do more interviews, people who know that they must show their best, at least that they are good. Sometimes even better than reality. The world continues. The war is BiH is almost written in closed history books.
I remember my parents speaking about the war in 1980. I got a little tired of it because by then I thought it was a little way out of line. The war in Yugoslavia realized me why they were speaking about it 35 years after. Not that I wanted to learn but I did. In the mean time everything not only continues but also seems to accelerate. Old people (and young people) can imagine an old car but old people have never seen a old computer, nor touched one.
I was a guest in the house of Ljubica and Savo, near to the Holiday Inn. I rented a room and became friends with these nice people. Once a while I visit them. Savo is 73 and spends most of his time with a complicated form of patience. Ljubica is 71 and she watch all sport programs on TV. This time (with permission) we recorded the conversation.
Literally we were holding still at the lives of the older people in society.
And it was about time we did it publicly

S: “Life of old people in Sarajevo has been quite difficult in the post war period. Old people and pensioners still have a very low standard of living. Pensions are not enough for living. Beside that, our health is disturbed, so we have to rely on health-care facilities. We help each other and somehow survive. ”
LJ: ”It was hard. I lost 20 kg. , and since October 1997 I had pneumonia three times until now, I still can not recover. Food is not so bad, but we do not have fruits, vitamins…we do not have money for it. Expenses are very big and pensions small, difference between incomes and spending are disproportional, so we can not afford better food. We are old and ill. Our children left Sarajevo, probably we will never see them again, but still we keep moving on and survive.
We all had our problems through the war. And we surmounted and survived on our own ways. From the perspective of old people, this is what our hosts said about life:
LJ: ”The hardest thing was living without basic needs, like food, water, electricity, fire-wood…We did not have enough food, and what we had was not quality food, but we had the same worries and troubles as all the people in Sarajevo. We were saving fire-wood by heating only one flat in which few families would spend their time. With local authorities permission, in 1994 I visited a friend who lived in territory under Serb control. She offered me some eggs. I was amazed. For two years I have not seen eggs. It was possible to by them but we did not have any money. ”
S: ”To get water we had to walk sometimes four hours, and then take it home through the streets exposed to sniper fire, even shells, and our lives were in constant danger. As we did not have money for fire-wood, every morning we would go out and collect branches, pieces of rubber, we even used parts of furniture to start a fire. The room in which we lived was all covered with soot from the furnace we used. Living conditions in surrounded city were very hard, someone might find them impossible, but we and other people in city survived.

Many people lost contact with their closest family. Our friends somehow overwhelmed situations like that.

LJ: ”Our children left Sarajevo, during the war the Red Cross messages traveled for few months to come to us. Our son left Sarajevo in the middle of the war, to be with his family, and later they went to the USA. Situation is different now, we talk over the phone sometimes, but they can not help us. They need the money they earn, for their own needs. In this moment they are pleased with the life they have.
S: ”This might be characteristic for our family. Our son evacuated his wife and children by help of the Children’s Embassy, and then he stayed here. The same thing happened with our daughters husband who also stayed in Sarajevo…”

The war was full of fantastic surviving stories. This couple have their stories too.

S: ”We live beside the Holiday Inn hotel. During the war strangers often stayed in this hotel and sometimes they threw away food. My wife searched thrash- cans to find left-overs of cigarettes. Sometimes she would find fruits, vegetables and meat. We would bring it home, wash and eat it. It shows that hunger has no eyes. ”
LJ: ” Once, when I was searching a thrash can, a young man came and asked me what I was looking for. When I told him what I was looking for, he asked me not to do it and offered his cigarettes. I took them and waited for him to leave, I wanted to take the left-overs of cigarettes I had found on dump. He asked me to come to his car and he gave me a big piece of meat for me and my family. We were happy, almost for three years before that we have not seen or eaten meat. ”
S: ”Once, we ran out of oil and my wife made food without it and we did not know it. For 9 days we had food without any fat. She told us about it when we got some oil. ”

This war was not the only one our hosts had lived survived. This is what they said about differences between the Second World war and this last war which is now over:

S: ”Second World War was much easier, we were younger then and it was not so complicated to go through all the troubles we had. Our parents were killed at the beginning of the war, and it was hard, but considering our age this war was even harder to survive. We could not move around because of the never ending shelling. The fear for life was very big. ”

At the end, good and positive things are overcoming memories from the cruel past.

LJ: ”There is no fear any more. We can live normally now and die normally. Most of our friends left Sarajevo. We are happy that we are still alive. And our children too. ”

This conversation lasted for another moment or two, three…it is not important. This sympathetic couple told us some more details about their long mutual life, but we promised not to write about things that were not recorded. See it as a private thing.
We wish them to have that happy smile which saw us off, for a long time.