Do 1992, Savo Heleta je uživao život u Goraždu, gradu sa muslimanskom većinom u Bosni i Hercegovini. Sa samo trinaest godina, Savov život postaje noćna mora sa početkom rata. Kao Srbi u gradu koji je bio pod muslimanskom kontrolom i srpskim okruženjem, Savo i njegova porodica postaju objekt sumnje preko noći.

Naredne dvije godine, Helete su terorisani, napadani, i zatvoreni u logor. Oni gladuju i na kraju gube svu svoju imovinu. Konačno 1994 godine, Savo i njegova porodica uspjevaju pobjeći iz Goražda plivajući tri kilometra niz ledenu rijeku Drinu. Nakon toga nastaje prava transformacija.

Od njegovog djetinjstva prije rata do ratnih muka i konačne slobode, mi pratimo Savov put od mladića koji želi osvetu do osobe koja uspjeva ostaviti mučnu prošlost po strani i nastaviti život promovišući mir.

“Not My Turn to Die” donosi običnu ljudsku priču o patnji, stradanju i preživljavanju za vrijeme rata u Bosni, o uništavanju jedne predivne zemlje, o zlim ljudima koji su isplivali na površinu kao i o dobrim ljudima koji su, bez obzira na sve, ostali dobri i činili sve da pomognu svoje poznanike i prijatelje.


O autoru:

Dr Savo Heleta je diplomirao istoriju i menadzment na Saint John’s University, Minnesota, USA. Savo je takodje zavrsio postdiplomske studije iz oblasti konflikt transformacije i menadzmenta i doktorat iz oblasti ‘Development Studies’ sa fokusom na posleratnu obnovu na Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, Juzna Afrika.

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Don’t fool with us. We know you’ve stayed in the city to spy for the chetniks!”

Smelling of homemade plum brandy, a man named Rasim weaved back and forth in his chair as he accused my parents of vicious crimes. “You are all the same to us! Some of you kill us with artillery shells and snipers, and some of you kill us by sending information to your friends. We know you radio the chetniks with our military positions. And your neighbors told us they saw you sending flashlight signals to the hills.”

It was June 17, 1992. We’d heard from our Muslim neighbors that Rasim had burned down a number of Serbian houses in the area since the fighting started. A drunkard with a scarred face and a penchant for picking fights, he was someone my father would never have let into our home before the war. No rational person would trust him. Yet, the Muslim police had recruited him once the war began.

My parents didn’t want to let him in. His machine gun changed their minds.

He interrogated my parents for more than four hours; my sister Sanja and I remained silent and still between our mom and dad on the couch. Dressed in a green camouflage uniform, Rasim sat on a chair, smoking one cigarette after another. His machine gun rested near him on the dining room table, the gun barrel pointed toward us. I watched his hand move toward the AK-47 whenever an answer didn’t satisfy him. Fondling the barrel, sliding his finger toward the trigger.

The spy and flashlight stories weren’t new to us. My teacher, our friend Todor, and many others were accused of being spies and killed without a trial. The killers could never find evidence, and in our case the flashlight accusation defied logic. Buildings surrounded us.

“The police were here once and they searched the whole apartment,” my father said. “They didn’t find anything illegal. I had a gun procured with a permit and some bullets. They confiscated them and gave me a certificate.”

My mother almost shouted, “The police can come again and search our home if they suspect we are still hiding something.”

Rasim ignored them, “Better you admit guilt now, rather than later. I know people who are ready to take you to the river. A bullet in the head, they roll you into the Drina, and then you float all the way to Serbia.”

My parents looked at each other, then at my sister and me. I could see they were frightened. They said nothing.

Rasim sat for a moment waiting. Abruptly he brandished his gun and said, “If you don’t cooperate, the river will be your grave.” Then he got up and left, slamming the door behind him.

We sat frozen. Terror seized me; bloodcurdling thoughts spun around my mind. We could only wait for death! Our only hope was for a quick death without much pain.


The next morning at about six, the sound of someone breaking the building’s entrance door downstairs awakened me. Sanja and I slept in one bedroom, our parents in the room next to ours.

I shut my eyes tightly and decided I was having a bad dream. Thuds on the door downstairs and yelling from the people breaking in proved me wrong.

They broke the main building door downstairs and ran up the stairs, shouting obscenities. Within seconds, they kicked at our door with their heavy boots and bashed it with their shoulders.

“Open the door, you bloody Serbs. This is your last day!”

My little sister cried my name in fright. She jumped from her bed and started dressing. I jumped from my bed too and rushed through my stuff on a chair, looking for pants and a shirt.

“Open the door! We know you are in there!”

Our room door was open. I saw my mother, frantically trying to dress in the hallway. She asked them to wait, not to break down the door.

“Open right now or I’ll blast it open with my machine gun. We don’t have time for games. Too many of you chetniks live around here. This will be a busy day for us!”

I heard them cock their guns.

“Whatever happens, please don’t leave your room,” Mom pleaded with tears in her eyes. She hugged Sanja and me before closing our bedroom door.

“No!” I flung the door open. “We want to be together.” I looked at my parents and sister, thinking that it could be the last moment we would see one another alive.

There was no time for discussion. My mother opened the main door and asked what was going on. No answers, just yelling. Four men with guns in their hands and long knives and hand grenades hanging on their belts cursed and took aim at my mother: “You dirty chetnik, this is your last day.”

Four monsters with haggard faces, hatred pouring from their bloodshot eyes, and reeking of brandy, screamed, “Bastards! Chetniks! Animals!” They made one promise: They would exterminate us once and for all.

“We’re going to kill you like dogs!” one of them yelled over and over and over again.

My mother knew him very well. A man named Suljo. She and he had been neighbors in their youth and had grown up together. A short, bald man in his late thirties, he had worked for the municipal government before the war. The faces of the other two men, in their early twenties, looked familiar to me. I’d seen them many times in the yard before the war. They had friends living in our building. I remembered the nickname of one of them. Celo. The fourth man didn’t look familiar.

One of them grabbed my dad by the collar and dragged him out to the stairway. Another one did the same to my mom. She held out my father’s leather jacket, trying to give it to him.

“Drop it or I’ll kill you! She has a grenade in the jacket!”

“It is only a jacket. . . .” Her voice was trembling. “See, nothing in the pockets.”

One man snatched the jacket from my mother and searched it. “Your husband won’t need the jacket. After today, he won’t be able to wear it again.” Checking the size of the jacket, he said, “Look, guys, nice leather. It’s my size.”

Then he looked at Sanja and me. He seemed confused to see children.

“Kids, get out of the apartment and follow your parents,” he finally yelled. When Sanja and I started to slowly walk outside, he shoved me with his gun barrel, almost knocking me on the floor.

“Please don’t hurt the children,” my mother pleaded with them. “Do whatever you want to us. Just don’t take the children.”

“Shut up. You won’t tell us what to do. You Serbs, you are no good! You are nothing!” one of the intruders said, laughing madly in my mother’s face.

In the stairway, our Muslim neighbors Adem and Amra, parents of my best friend Mirza, appeared at their doorway. They’d awakened after hearing the racket coming from our apartment. They wanted to find out what was going on and where the four men were taking my family.

“Go back to your apartment and don’t ask any more questions, or else you could get hurt too,” one of the intruders said.

Adem and Amra didn’t retreat. “Please, at least don’t take the kids with you. Leave them here with us,” Amra begged.

The four men stopped. The intruder named Suljo took another man aside, talking to him for several seconds.

“Okay, the kids can stay with you for a while. That will make our job easier,” Suljo said.

“When we are done with their parents and the other Serbs from the neighborhood, we will come back for them. They’d better be here,” another man added.

My sister and I didn’t want to stay with our neighbors. We cried until our throats were raw; we wanted to stay with our parents. If we had to die, we wanted to die together. Our neighbors pulled and pushed until the two of us were safely inside their apartment.


Dva kratka izvoda iz knjige na srpskom jeziku

Prevod: Saša Važić

Prvi put objavljeno u Švedsko-Srpskom časopisu za kulturu “Dijaspora


Mirišući na domaću šljivovicu, čovjek po imenu Rasim klatio se u stolici dok je optuživao moje roditelje za gnusne zločine. “Svi ste vi isti! Neki od vas nas ubijaju granatama i snajperima, neki dostavljajući obaveštenja svojim prijateljima. Znamo da obavještavate četnike radio stanicom o našim vojnim položajima. A vaše komšije su nam rekle da su vas vidjele kako džepnim lampama odašiljate signale prema brdima.”

Bio je 17. jun. Čuli smo od komšija muslimana da je Rasim spalio više srpskih kuća u našem dijelu grada od kada su počele borbe. Pijanac izranavljena lica koji je volio da izaziva tuče pre rata, on je od onih koje moj otac nikada ne bi pustio u kuću. Niko pametan mu ne bi vjerovao.

A ipak, muslimanska policija ga je vrbovala kada je počeo rat.

Roditelji nisu htjeli da ga puste unutra. Njegov mitraljez ih je primorao da se predomisle.

Ispitivao ih je više od četiri sata; moja sestra Sanja i ja smo bez riječi sjedili na kauču između mame i tate. Obučen u zelenu maskirnu uniformu, Rasim je sjedio na stolici, pušeći jednu cigaretu za drugom. Njegov mitraljez je ležao blizu njega, na trpezarijskom stolu, sa puščanom cjevi okrenutom prema nama. Posmatrao sam kako njegova ruka kreće prema AK-47 kad god ne bi bio zadovoljan nekim odgovorom. Milovao je cjev, klizio prstom prema obaraču.

Priče o špijunima i svjetlosnim signalima nisu za nas bile nove. Moj učitelj, naš prijatelj Todor i mnogi drugi bili su optuženi kao špijuni i ubijeni a da im prethodno nije bilo suđeno. Ubice nikada nisu mogle da dođu do dokaza, a u našem slučaju optužba za davanje svetlosnih signala je bila potpuno nelogična. Naš dom je bio okružen zgradama.

“Jednom je ovde dolazila policija i pretražila cijeli stan”, reče moj otac. “Nisu pronašli ništa nezakonito. Imao sam pištolj, dozvolu i metke. Oduzeli su mi sve to i izdali potvrdu.”

Moja majka skoro povika: “Policija može opet da dođe i pretraži kuću ako sumnja da još uvijek nešto krijemo.”

Rasim ih je ignorisao: “Priznajte, bolje sada nego posle. Znam ljude koji su spremni da vas odvedu na rijeku. Metak u glavu, skotrljaju vas u Drinu i onda plovite sve do Srbije.”

Moji roditelji izmjeniše poglede, pa onda pogledaše sestru i mene.

Mogao sam da vidim da su uplašeni. Ne rekoše ništa.

Rasim je sjedio na trenutak čekajući. Onda odjednom poče da maše puškom rekavši: “Ako ne sarađujete, završićete u Drini”. Zatim ustade i ode, tresnuvši vratima za sobom.

Sjedili smo sleđeni. Uhvati me strah; jezive misli su mi se motale po glavi. Mogli smo samo da čekamo na smrt! Jedino smo se mogli nadati da će smrt biti brza i ne previse bolna.


Naša uobičajena ishrana sastojala se od dvije tanke kriške hljeba na dan i nešto čorbe od pirinča ili pasulja. Večera je postala rijedak luksuz rezervisan za ona vremena kada bismo nekako došli do posebne hrane. Moji roditelji su često pokušavali da sestri Sanji i meni daju da pojedemo više odvajajući od svog dijela, ali smo mi uvijek odbijali.

Kako je oskudica hrane bila svakodnevna pojava, nikada nismo bacali ništa što je bilo za jelo. Ja bih jeo i najsitnije mrvice hljeba koje bi ostajale na stolu posle sječenja vekne hleba. Majka nikada nije morala da briše sto.

Ja sam često zapadao u očaj i bio umoran od višednevnog gladovanja. To što nisam imao šta da radim, sem da mislim na glad, samo je potpaljivalo moje beznađe. Tada bih lutao po stanu u nadi da ću naći neku zaboravljenu konzervu mesnog nareska ili bilo kakvu drugu hranu. Uzalud bih pretraživao sve fioke i police u stanu i zavlačio se pod krevete i otomane. Ne našavši ništa, ostatak dana bih proveo osećajući se jadnim.

Jednog hladnog, zimskog dana, deda je otišao da vidi da li će Crveni krst uskoro dijeliti neku hranu. Prošlo je skoro mjesec i po dana od kada su raspodijelili male količine ulja, brašna, mlijeka u prahu, žita i pirinča. Mada smo bili veoma štedljivi, pokušavajući da razvučemo hranu, sve bi bilo potrošeno u roku od mjesec dana. Poslednjih nekoliko dana majka je kuvala tri crvena krompira a onda ih prepolovila, tako da je svako od nas mogao da dobije po pola krompira na dan. Sada više nije bilo ni krompira.

Utučen, smrznut i gladan, deda, kada je saznao od Crvenog krsta da će se neka hrana možda djeliti za par dana, rješio je da krene kući. Vraćajući se, sreo je Ibru, prijatelja muslimana.

Kada se vratio kući, deda nam je ispričao o tom susretu.

“Sreo sam Ibru i njegovu suprugu na putu u njihovo selo. Moraće da prepješače oko dvadeset kilometara da bi počeli da pripremaju zemlju za sjetvu. Rekoše da moraju da krenu rano jer moraju ručno da očiste i izdrljaju zemlju.

“Pitali su me kako živimo i kako izlazimo na kraj sa nestašicom hrane. Rekoh im da danima imamo malo hrane ili da je nemamo uopšte. Ibro reče da bi nam pomogao da može, ali ni oni nemaju dovoljno hrane za svoju porodicu. Reče da će pokušati da nam pomogne na ljeto.

Pričali smo neko vrijeme, a prije nego što su krenuli, Ibro reče da imaju samo veknu hljeba koju su ponijeli da bi imali šta da jedu u selu tokom vikenda. Rekao mi je da je uzmem. Kaže da je za Sava i Sanju.

Odbio sam, ali je on izvadio hljeb iz torbe, strpao mi ga u ruke, brzo se oprostio i otišao. Nisam imao vremena da odbijem.”

“Evo hljeba”, reče deda i stavi ga na sto. Ta vekna hljeba nas je održala u životu skoro nedelju dana.

Priča koju nam je deda ispričao pomogla mi je da shvatim da se ljudi ne mogu djeliti po etničkim pripadnostima, religiji ili bilo čemu drugom, već samo na dobre i loše. U svojoj glavi sam Ibru i njegovu suprugu smestio na vrh grupe koju su sačinjavaju dobri ljudi.

Ovaj događaj me je naučio i nečemu vrlo važnom kada je moj deda u pitanju. Sigurno je ostavio veoma pozitivan utisak na Ibrin život kada se on tako rado odrekao jedine hrane, hrane koju je namjeravao da podjeli sa suprugom tokom narednih nekoliko dana.