Bjeshka Guri (interviewer)
Hidajete Tola (interviewee)
Acronyms: BG=Bjeshka Guri, HT= Hidajete Tola
BG: Can you introduce yourself please?
HT: I am Hidajete Tola, from the village of Potaqan, but we have been living in the city since 1969.
After several attempts, the eldest son started working, when the demonstrations started they went on foot, without bread and water from Prizren to Prishtina, from Krusha e Vogël where he was working he went to Prishtina on foot, without bread and water for demonstrations.
The next day he came back, he was tired, he had been in very bad condition, he was very upset and he was tired.
BG: Do you remember what the situation was like before the outbreak of the war, what was the atmosphere like, how did you find out that the war was breaking out?
HT: When the demonstrations started, the demonstrators came through Prizren, passed by our doors and I served them with onions to help them.
While one day after they returned from work, they left my table served (laid out dinner) and went out to go for demonstrations, it seems it was 1989.
They came out too late, when they all came out I was the only one left, the table remained served (dinner was left laid).
Then, when the war started my son went to war, go out here and there, come back late at night. He did not tell me what they were saying, what was happening.
I told him to tell me what was happening, he told me that nothing was happening, we are just holding meetings, we are staying, nothing is happening. He was trying to calm me down.
When the war broke up we became very upset, 40 people were in the family. We were together 5 houses (family). One day while staying at home, my son came and said, “Landovica was expelled from the village, and some went upstairs through our doors. I want to go and see if I can find Sakipe. ” When the son returned, he found her bleeding at Rasim Landovica’s and told me “I found her” and said “he was going to get Hyrije, the nurse who was in our neighborhood and was sending her to aunt Sakipe, to clean her wound, to check on her.
He did not find her there, they transferred her to another place, they sent her to a house but they did not know to tell which house they sent her to, but the son could not find her and said “If she had been in hospital I would have found her, but in the house, I do not know where to find her”, I said no to my son, God help her, what can you do.
While standing, the son took it and wrote 3 letters, one he gave to his father, one he kept to himself and the other he gave to his brother. He owed some debts, he said, you never know, he said, I told not to tell me to me, he told me “mother, this war is unknown”.
Then we made an Eid (Bayram) lunch for all the persons (guests) and as soon as we had lunch we were immediately ordered by the police to leave the village, took our bags in our arms, the Eid lunch was left and we were not allowed to enter the city, but we went straight to Nashevc for Albania, telling us “go to Albania, you have no place here”, scaring us…
My elder son was a bus conductor and I was afraid that they would know him because he travelled by bus and they abused him a lot, they have beaten him by buttons (police stick) but he did not leave his job, his whole back was bruised and the whole neck was yellow (from tortures) and so it went.
And for that reason, I was afraid they would recognize him.
We all left the house immediately, lunch remained served, the bread was ready, the food was left on the table, we set off for Albania, all on foot. I took my 3-year-old daughter at my back. I took on a pair of shoes, which hurt me if taking off the bare feet would hurt in the gravel if keeping on my feet hurt, I kept the girl at my back.
One of our boys was 7 months, the other one 1-month-old.
We walked from the house to the border.
After crossing the border, we stopped at a place and there we cleaned the children, in a very bad situation.
After they saw us having small children they took us, sent us to an army barrack, a pit was in a mountain, as deep (far) from there.
They put us there and we stayed there all night, in the morning we continued on foot again near Kukës. there the boy separated from us, he stopped for a while he spoke I did not know he got a letter, he wanted to stop and stay there, he had served army but a friend of his did not let him stop and he came with us on the bus.
Then they sent us straight to Korça, then they sent us to a kind of stable, to a place, as refugees, without having anything with them.
Then we entered there, we stayed 2 nights until my brother came from Tirana and took me and my family and the niece with her own family, one girl stayed here (in Korça) with her husband and children.
Then he sent us to Tirana. When we came to Tirana we stayed 2 nights with my brother, but it was very crowded and we had to rent an apartment. We paid 300 marks rent.
We stayed in that apartment, while when they sent us from Tirana to Korça, my son got on another bus, he did not get on the same bus with us.
The 7-month-old boy was waving at him, come here with us and said “no, he was getting on the other bus, more comfortable” he had thought of getting off and going to get enlisted (to join the army).
Then the eldest son came (the one who is left to me) who said “either today o never”, then the other boy also came down, 2 cousins of my husband came down as well, one of them left only the daughter, 2 women, they returned him and also my youngest son Nevruz was returned to me, he was told not to have both brothers gone.
BG: How did you get to Tirana?
HT: In Tirana we had a very bad time, because we did not have help for about 5 weeks, we did not have help at all. We were in Lapraka, they did not supply us with assistance until 2 weeks before we returned to Kosovo. We had a very bad time, we managed with the help given to us by some people, they sent us money from abroad …
It was God’s will and I caught TEMPLE (Temple Stones) disease, I was operated on for temple, and I stayed a week in a military hospital.
And then my son killed in the war.
I got sick after I had surgery, my husband went to boys of my brother-in-law with the first daughter-in-law and he said maybe taking it easier because our son was no longer with us.
They went to those who were from Gjakova and who were located outside Tirana.
When they went there, the son called me from my brother where he was staying and lied to him and told him to come because the little daughter of the bride was sick.
Then when the bride came to the apartment, she said “daughter you are not used to having fun, Nevruzi has a sick daughter, Ruzhdi was killed” and started taking her clothes. I said, slowly that this is not good news. And holding the wound I had I went there too.
The daughter went in front of me, she went there and the groom had come there and brought the news that my son had been killed.
I went to them, they all came out and when we set off for here, my aunt’s son on one side and my brother on the other side, I told them what do you have that you behave like that. They said nothing but asked Nevruz to go and join the army. I was telling my brother do not send him because I have enough of one, do not set me on fire.
After we came to the apartment, they did not tell me anything, the first bride from the balcony shouted after seeing us in a hurry and said: “Did they kill Aziz?” They said no, I started screaming too. It became crowded as if a man was killed.
One week people came there to pay condolences to us.
My son was killed, without seeing his corpse, without seeing his death, without anything.
He left the bride with 4 children.
This other son with his children and his brother’s children taking care of them, his brother’s bride and his 4 children, even himself with a wife and a child, and also with parents, so he took care of 10 people.
When we came we were without a salary, without a job, without money without anything.
He talked about selling peppers in the streets so that we could survive.
BG: Do you remember when you returned from Tirana, how did you find out that Kosovo was liberated?
HT: When Kosovo was liberated, we heard in the news in Albania, on neighbour’s TV, it was announced that Kosovo was liberated, an agreement was made and the Serbs left Kosharja.
We stayed another week after Kosovo was liberated, and then we came to Kosovo.
When we returned to Kosovo, we found the same as the son left his shoes, as was the served table (ready lunch).
Many thanks to the son of the brother-in-law, the sister-in-law, because they had removed all the items so that I would not see them, and I would feel bad.
Then we observed the condolences for our son. Many people came to express their condolences.
Such a sadness, a 34-year-old boy was killed by Serbs for no reason, without any guilt.
Yes they could, they did everything.
BG: Now do you often recall the war?
HT: Yes, I recall it.
If I think at night, I cannot sleep well until in the morning recalling how we went out, how we set off, how we came back, how my son spoke to me, what he told me. It dawns.
BG: Do you have anything else to add?
HT: I have a lot to tell, but I am forgetting.
BG: Thank you very much!