“At first, in the beginning, its weird. You feel as though you’re being set free of something. You don’t feel bad because at that moment you are saved from something worse.” To me, life as a refugee played a major part in shaping Alen’s psychology, not only because it consumed so much of his life during the war, but also because of the experiences, hardships, trials, tests, dramas and deeds he went through. I spoke to him about all of this extensively:
“Even though we’re forced to become the refugee, in the first moments, you were running into something better – because of what you were running from – the war itself – you just want to get out of the war. Then, later on, you start realising that that is the point of your life. There is no turning back…
no turning back”. The tone in Al’s voice changes, as though he regrets himself and his family being thrown into this dire situation. Sad, regretful, even though it simply wasn’t their choice.
“It took us a long time to grieve for everything we lost, because the entire time, you were struggling to survive, you had no time to sit down and cry “Oh my god! Oh my god!” – there was no point. Al pauses. “So the entire time we were refugees, we encountered danger upon danger, which made you think constantly: how where you going to get through? How could you make it? Its only after time do you acknowledge that fear, and it goes away.” “You relax and think about these things – the circumstances that you feel you can control – but the entire time you’re really thinking about survival, so you don’t think about loss. – its not that you don’t, you just know that there’s no point. That would only hold you back”.
“Things change when you’re moving. In a camp you begin to realise that you’re gonna spend a year here, or another year in that centre, which is no better than the other, you realise that that’s what some refugees think they’ll do forever!” “They start killing themselves or getting depressed”. Did you ever think that way? I ask: “No, I didn’t think that way”. So, once you realised this, did it lead you to take the next step (towards rising above it): “Most of what im telling you now” explains Alen “I didn’t take any steps. Im only realising all of this now”. – “I couldn’t do much – you’re a refugee in a centre, you have certain privileges and that’s it. You have no opportunity to become something or someone, the only steps to take, the only ones you have are don’t get killed, don’t die and hope for (a) better tomorrow”…
excerpt from a biography i am currently writing called “The Bosnian Way”.
Copyright Carlos Hurworth
see also previous blogs