I thought that he is still breathing

Ajete’s husband joined the KLA in a time of war. She was left with four children, with the youngest child not even three years old and her old father-in-law. When the Serb forces approached the village, same as elsewhere, the residents were forced to flee to the nearby forest.

Ajete says that during the war she did not see mass killings of civilians, the rape of women, the inhuman torture of men. But, on the day when they escaped, just before she entered the forest with her eleven-year-old son, Ajete experienced something that would mark her entire life – the sniper killed her son, split his head in two.

Ajete Ahmeti

My name is Ajete Ahmeti and I am from village Selac. I was born on January 20th, 1967. We were four brothers and six sisters. My father was not employed anywhere but he had cattle and he dealt with in agriculture.

My family was not rich, we were like many other families. We lived a happy life together with our parents, brothers, and sisters. I am the eldest of all the children. We didn’t have much, but we were happy with what we had.

My parents had their last say in our family, whatever my parents would say that would be final. They assigned everyone with duties, ”You will do this, and that task will be done by you, you and you”. Everything was done as we were told. We had to deal with corn, wheat, beans, mowing the grass, collecting the hay, everything had to be done. We never dared say, “I am lazy to work today, let the others do my tasks.”

We didn’t get much education from school. I finished only primary school, and I didn’t continue my education because of our living conditions. I was good at school but the circumstances, the distance, the transport, there were many reasons why I couldn’t go to school. I wanted to go to school, but we had cows, sheep, we had to milk them, to do our chores. I would get up early and start cooking at 8 o’clock. Today I have my diploma from primary school, where I had all the best grades.

I had many friends. We were 20-25 pupils from the same village, Selac. At that time it used to be a big village with many people but now there is no one living there. In total there are five, six houses, not more than that. Our teachers were good, and they taught us very well. They used to teach us the Serbian language and French language as well. The director of all schools was a person called Mursaik Ajvazi. Whenever there was a rally there, they would ask me to speak because I loved school very much. I loved studying very much.

I remembered for a long time many of the lessons I learned in primary school, but after the war, I forgot them. When this happened to me, I forgot almost everything. But when I think about the past, when you are focused on your studies, you never forget them. I will never forget the teachers I had in primary school. From all the teachers I had, I only met Murat Jusufi after the war, he works in the municipality of Mitrovica.

After the war ended, I was in contact with only two friends. Now I am friends only with my cousin with whom I was in the same class until the fifth grade. I am friends also with another girl who was from our village. Now, I don’t know what happened to them. I don’t know whether they got married or if they went to live abroad. We had a very good time together. As a friend, I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. I still don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. If I would take a piece of paper, I would share it with my friends. We would break a pencil into two parts and share it with friends because we had a great relationship.

I didn’t go to secondary school. The eldest brother and the third brother finished secondary school, but none of us, sisters, attended secondary school. We just finished primary school. I wanted to continue going to secondary school. When I was in the seventh grade, I remember a girl called Ferdane who came from Prishtina, I don’t remember her last name, and she gathered all the parents at the school. They gathered and after the meeting one of the parents said, “By God, I will take my daughter to secondary school.” Of all the parents, only one said that he will take his daughter to school. Today that girl is a nurse.

And now I am 53 years old and I always dreamt of going to school. Since I couldn’t do it myself, God fulfilled my wish and blessed me with my children. I always dreamt of going to school. I told my children, “It doesn’t matter if you work or not, you must attend school, you must give your best, you must study”. 

When I finished the eighth grade, my father died. I was 15 years old. My dad went to get some corn and take it to the mill. As soon as he came from the mill, he died at home. He suffered a heart attack.

Our mother struggled to raise us, and she made great sacrifices, all while in poverty. But Allah rewarded her efforts, we are now all doing well and we have our children. When my father died, we were very sad. At that time my youngest brother was only five years old. None of us were working and my eldest brother was in the army when dad died. But everyone helped us a little. Two years after my brother came back from the army, he went to work in Germany and the rest of us siblings (six sisters and three brothers) remained here. Our brother helped us a lot.

My mother cried and she was worried so much, “He left me with all these children, what am I supposed to do with ten children, without income, without anything.” Someone had to go work as a shepherd and take care of the sheep and cows. The girls started to grow up and you never know how the boys end up; my mother was worried all the time. When my brother came from Germany, he would tell her, “I promise you, everything will be fine, just don’t get upset.” I used to tell her as well, “Mom, we will do everything you tell us.” She guided us very well, and fortunately, we all prospered, we all got married well.

At that time, we didn’t have cars to travel back and forth to Selac, we had only horses. There was no way to get groceries; in those times we didn’t need much because we had our milk, cheese, and everything else. There was a shop in Bare, in Shale of Bajgora. We used to go there by horse and get what we needed and turn back because the road was bad. Our village was very good.

After the war ended, we went to Kroni i Vitakut – my brother lived there. He doesn’t live there anymore, now he lives in Sweden. His house is still back there. My mother, two brothers, and four sisters lived there. My second sister and I got married. After that house got burned, they came again to Tunel, and they stayed in an apartment. But, my mother was very upset about my brother, because he went abroad when he was very young.

I got married in village Kutllovc. I got married in ’87 when I was 20 years old. When I got married it was very difficult for my mother because I was the eldest daughter and I was always by her side. After I got married, she would ask me, “Ajete, please come to visit me at least once every two or three months.” Thank goodness, even though she lived far away I had the possibility to visit her quite often. I did it for her sake. And then my sisters and brothers grew up. But the sadness for losing our father never went away.

Dad always loved working in the field. We were always nearby him, at the wheat or in the cornfield, we were always there. Father loved his daughters more than the boys. And my mother loved the boys more. Dad looked after us a lot, we respected him, we were ashamed to say something in front of him. I loved my mother more. I don’t know why. Maybe because I was the eldest daughter and I could see my mother working hard. That women’s work was never done, and that’s why I loved my mother very much.

Now I feel sorry for my mother because she lives alone in an apartment. She has four sons, and all of them live abroad with their families. Only my nephew lives here. He is 19 years old and he lives in Mitrovica. Thank God, he is doing fine. They take him abroad, he goes and stays for five or six months, sometimes a year. Then he comes back and after a while, he goes again. He doesn’t like living abroad. But thank God he is doing well now because in the past he suffered a lot. Life was very difficult.

I got married when I was 20 years old. My husband is nine years older than me. I remember the wedding day. It was September 23rd and it was a very nice and sunny day. It was far away to travel from village Kutllovc to Selac, it took three hours on foot or one and a half hour by carriage. But there were not many carriages at that time. They were horse-drawn carriages. So, four such carriages came and took me. There were many men and family members. There were plenty of people.

When I came here to my husband’s place, there were around 30 household members. We got married as they used to in the past. My cousin and my brother-in-law worked together as school handymen. He spoke of his brother and my cousin talked about me. Then my cousin met my brother and told him, “They are asking for Ajeta’s hand in Kutllovc”. I told my mother, “Mom, don’t do this to me, I am still young. I still want to stay with you, I am the eldest” She was all alone and someone had to help her. My mom said, “My dear, nobody wants to marry an old woman. You are almost 20 years old.” And then I said, “Okay, as you wish.”

That was my fate. Three weeks later he came again and I got engaged. We were engaged for six months and then we got married. I got married on September 23rd and on January 20th I celebrated my 20th birthday.

When I went to my husband’s house, I couldn’t find peace because I left my mother. I never believed that someone could replace me and do the work I did for my mother. But all of my sisters replaced me, one by one. Because all of them got married as I did, with the consent of our mother and brothers.

When I came to live here, my husband was unemployed and only his brother was employed at the school. The other brother-in-law who lived with us used to be a teacher in village Rahova but the Serbs fired him. A year after I got married all of the brothers-in-law went separate ways in their own houses. After Jeton was born all of the brothers went separate ways.

Jeton was born on August 6th, 1988, in a hospital in Mitrovica. The day I went to give birth, the situation was not good. But when you become a mother for the first time, you are very happy. He was a good and intelligent child. When Jeton turned seven years old, he was crazy after his father. He went and collected wood, planted wheat, collected hay, he went after the cows and sheep. On top of that, he went to school and he never stopped. When he attended the first grade, he said, “I will study hard and I will become a Kosovo soldier.” He heard this from his father. Whenever our family gathered, we talked about Kosovo, we said that it’s good to give your life for the homeland, and my son heard this. My son never went to school without hugging his father and me.

He attended the first and the second grade in a house; they were teaching the children from the first until the fifth grade in some house so they wouldn’t come to Tunel. He was a good pupil, but he didn’t live long enough to finish school.

Two years after Jeton, our daughter Fitore was born. By that time Shefqet and his brothers parted ways but we lived in the same yard. Our children had a great time with the other children. We enrolled Fitore in school when she was six years old so she would go together with Jeton. He was attending the second grade and she was in the first. She was more energetic than him but they had a very good relationship with each other. Then Liridon was born two years after Fitore. Liridon didn’t attend the school there, he just attended school in Tunel, because that school in Kutllovc was closed.

Four or five years later, Dafina was born. Dafina was born in ‘97. Dafina was two and a half years old during the war. We got Dafina five years after Liridon. When she was born, the situation was very bad. She was born in Mitrovica, on the north side, in a hospital in Mitrovica. Then after the war ended, we got Valentina and Jeton. They have a year and a half in between.

Children have very good relations with each other and they help each other. We were always a quiet family; we always paved the way for how to behave well. And thank goodness they learned our lessons.

Also, their father has always told them how to be better and better. He talked to them about family values. When he went to become a soldier, he told them, “Look, I am going to be a soldier…”

I never thought that anything will happen to him, I thought to myself – he will go and he will come back one day. He left me with my father-in-law and four children. The brother-in-law took his children and he went to Germany, he left just before the war started. We were alone there, there was no one in that neighborhood, there was just one house a bit below our house. My father-in-law was 80 years old.

We had a lot of cattle, and Jeton worked hard. At 11 o’clock, he was always running to bring the cows inside. All the jobs that a man would do around the house, he has done it. He was just eleven years old and he would do everything because my father-in-law couldn’t work anymore. We were looking after the old man, the children were young, my husband went to become a soldier, and there was no one to help me. But, thank God, we did well. We had just enough. Thanks to Allah, may He bless us, we had just enough.

When Shefqet went to the KLA, he just got up early one day and said, “I am leaving.” He left together with his cousin. Jeton and I were looking out from the window and Jeton said, “Dad, where are you going?” He said, “I am going to liberate the homeland. Do you remember what I have told you earlier?” Jeton said, “Yes, I know.” And then my husband’s cousin asked me, “Ajete, how is your mood?” I said, “I am okay.” He then asked me, “Please go and calm my wife down.” They were living a little further down from us.

After they left, I still thought that it’s not a big deal. I went to speak to the wife of that cousin, and I asked her, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you crying?” She said, “They are gone, and no one knows whether they will return alive or not.” I said, “It’s up to God to decide. If it was meant to – they will die, if not- they will survive”

After about two or three months, Shefqet returned, but he would go back and forth again. He was always insisting that the children must attend school. When we came here in Tunel, a neighbor asked Jeton when he was at school, “Where is your father?” Jeton said, “He is in Germany.” “You are lying, your father is in Albania. We will kill you and your father.” I don’t know who that person was, but my brother-in-law knew who he was because he was their neighbor. That brother-in-law came to Tunel before the war started.

We stayed in Tunel for a month and he went to school here. I was very scared. One day he said, “Please mom, for God’s sake, let’s go to live in Kutllovc, even if we live under a tree.” I said, “My dear son, we can’t live in Kutllovc, all the shops are far, everything is far away”, he said, “Let’s go mom, we will take the children and grandfather and we will go.” The next day I took the children, I took the father-in-law and we went to an old house.

When Shefqet came from where he was a soldier, we repaired a bit the place together with a cousin and I started living there. I was staying there together with four children, also the cousin was living in a house close to us.

One night, it was snowing, it was very cold and windy, the whole door was blocked with snow. We hardly managed to gather the cows. The Kutllovci antenna was above us. I was afraid. I remember at one moment I said, “God, help us.” And my son said, “Don’t be afraid, dad is a soldier and it’s shameful to be afraid.” My father-in-law said, “Bravo! That’s right!” He was not even eleven years old when he said that.

The dog barked that night, we could hear the rifles shooting, and we didn’t close our eyes that night. After some time, my father-in-law got sick, oh my God, he got sick badly. His back was hurting, his stomach too… I called my brother-in-law to come and take him to the doctor. Jeton was dealing with and feeding the cows all the time. We were doing it together.

Two or three days or maybe a week later, we made a tent in the forest. We were two families living in it, Shefqet’s family and us. The Serbs noticed us and they started shooting grenades at us, they were just shooting and shooting. There was a boy, cousin’s only son, I told him, “Isuf, take Jeton with you”. Then they went out, they went to the river and they stayed there. When they came back, their faces were all pale because of the grenades.

The next day we left for Bare. We went on foot there; we all went there together with the children and we walked as much as we could. We spent a month in Bare. After some time, we didn’t have bread nor flour anymore. I got up and I took Jeton, we got on the horse and we went to Selac. We loaded the horse with 100 kilos of corn, my uncle helped me load them. From Selac we came to Bare on foot together with Jeton. As soon as we took the corn to the mill, they told us, “The Serbs surrounded us”. We left everything behind. We went from Bare on foot towards Kutllovc. And then we didn’t get out of the house at all.

The day when Jeton was killed, my sister-in-law was here as well, we cooked and we baked bread. It was May 22nd, at 11 o’clock. We saw that the Serbs were coming, but we didn’t think that they were Serbs, we thought that someone came to collect the cabbage from the field. 

My son asked me to put sugar in his glass of milk, and I told him, “My son, we don’t have any.” I still regret why I didn’t have sugar for him. As soon as we went out in the yard, the forest was maybe two-three meters away, everybody started running and they went to the forest. My sister-in-law, took my daughter Dafina because she was two and a half years old. I told my son, “Jeton go, I will just take a piece of bread for us”. I thought to myself, I need it for the children because they will be hungry. He said, “No, I will not go out without you.”.

My father-in-law went to the forest. They all entered the forest. The two of us, as soon as we stepped out, he was by my side, God made him bigger, he became much bigger than me. As soon as we stepped into the forest, he just fell. I just saw that a part of his head went off, and his brain fell on the ground.

When I saw him, I screamed, “God we are in your hands, they killed my Jeton.” God gave me strength and I grabbed him and I went into the forest.

Before taking him up, I tore my shirt and I wrapped it around his head. My sister-in-law threw me a sweater, I wrapped him up because I didn’t want his brain to fall down. But until I reached that place his brain fell on the ground. There was nothing left.

I laid him there. The Serbs were coming towards us. When they got close to us, they started firing their rifles. In order to reach village Rashan, my brother-in-law said, “Ajete let go of Jeton!” But God sent me strength, and I couldn’t let go of him. He said, “Leave him here.” I told him, “I can’t leave him here, he is still alive”. I thought that he was still breathing. He then told me, “Ajete, no, the boy is not alive.” He said, “The Serbs are coming.” There were seven or eight of them, maybe more. He said, “Leave the boy here and we will come back for him because I am afraid that they will catch us all”. I told him, “I will never leave my son behind for anything in this world. Let them catch me, let them kill me.” I told him, “You go ahead and go.” He said, “I will not leave you alone.”

Dafina, my youngest daughter, stayed without food and water until 2 o’clock after midnight. She stayed together with us, close to Jeton’s body.

And then a couple of soldiers, at around 2 o’clock, started burning the houses. Not only that they killed my Jeton, but for two days I couldn’t find my other son, Liridon. When they started shooting, Liridon started running towards the forest, and he ran to village Zasella. I said to myself, “Oh God, I will lose my mind, this child has gone, Allah has written it that way, but where is my other son?” Two days later my brother-in-law called me and said, “We found Liridon in village Zasella”.

The men came and they buried my son. I went and I collected parts of his brain and I told them, “Take this, it’s my son’s brain”. I buried him near the forest. Also, his brain is buried with him. He lost all of his brains, he shed all of his blood. His eyes dried out, his body completely shrunk, because half of his head was shot.

No one heard me cry, and no one has seen me cry. Why? Because Shefqet has spoken to us as if we were children, he told us, “If the war starts, whatever happens, must be faced, we must stay strong”. I always thought of his words. My husband didn’t know at all that his son died. He found out when the war ended. They all knew what happened and when my husband came, he saw the grave and he asked a relative, “Who is buried in that grave?” and the relative told him, “Your son was killed.”

When they killed our son, we went to Reshan that night. I couldn’t find my other son. Two days later we found out that he is in village Zasella, and we went there and we stayed there for three nights. We stayed with my brother-in-law’s relatives. They took us to Montenegro. I remember screaming, “I don’t want to go, my son was killed. I have nothing left!” and my father-in-law was insisting, “You have to leave, you must.” And so, we left.

The police stopped the bus and they pulled out my brother-in-law and Shefqet’s father. I had no documents, no ID card, nothing. They came in and they started asking. My father-in-law was crying, “I don’t care for us but Ajete has no documents”. I told him, “Don’t worry, nothing will happen. There is no point to live anymore because Jeton is gone.” “No, don’t say that. Don’t forget about the other children?” and I said, “These three are my children too, but…”

But thank goodness, they didn’t stop us and they didn’t ask me for documents. My brother-in-law and Shefqet’s father returned to the bus, they were asked for documents.

We spent three weeks in Ulqin in Montenegro. They made some tents for us and we stayed near the Little beach. Some people were crying for their property and those that lost their loved ones didn’t care for the property. I didn’t care about the property we lost because my son was killed. And many of them were crying, when we were in Montenegro, “Our house was burned, we had this, we had that…” I was not interested in listening to them. Because I had my heart crying for my son that was killed. No one can replace him but God blessed me with another son.

When we came back from Montenegro, we came directly here. My brother-in-law bought this place before the war. Shefqet stayed here since there was no other place for him to stay because everything was burned. So, we stayed there for three weeks and then we came here. We found Shefqet here. We lived in that place for five years without buying it, and after five years we finally bought it. We bought this apartment, and then he bought the one on the other side and so the entire family came together.

When the first Eid celebration came, it was very hard for me. In the past, we were all happy to come together for Eid, because we were a happy family. We hardly managed to go through the first day of Eid without our Jeton. My mother came to visit us and that day and she said, “You can’t behave like that, you have other children as well”. She said, “Think about how I felt when I was left with ten children and being the head of the house, what was I supposed to do?” She said, “I faced my problems, and God rewarded me for my suffering. Also, you have to find peace.” My mother’s words calmed us down a bit. And thanks to God, we found peace.

Immediately after the war ended, my brother-in-law was thinking of organizing a wedding for his two sons – and they didn’t want to celebrate. But I was the first one who went and turned on the music. I did the same for his second son as well. I don’t want to affect anyone’s happiness because of me. The living needs to stay with the living, and the dead with the dead. I always said that, and even today I still say it. Everybody felt sorry for what happened but all the people that died had a mother somewhere. Everyone suffers the most for their own child.

Even today they ask me, “How can you cope, why did you play the music?”. I did it because I didn’t want others to suffer because of me and say, “Just because of Ajete, I couldn’t play music at the wedding, or, I didn’t enjoy the wedding …”.

I am very happy with my children; I hope that whoever has children cherishes them. Very often I get very sad. But I always relied on God, and I am thankful to him, I am not the only person that experienced this.

It was war time, and I understand that people die but he was just a child, he never did anything wrong to anyone. I guess God wrote it.

When I was 35 years old, I got pregnant. My daughter Valentina was born. I never said, “Why God did you give me a daughter?” I love my daughters. She is a very beautiful girl, a very good person. And then I got pregnant immediately. When my son was born, I was in dilemma: should I renew the name or not? Someone said, “No, it’s not good to renew the names.” But I made the choice. I decided together with my husband. It wasn’t a matter should we renew his name or not, for us it was important to start calling the name Jeton again in our house. And thank God, they even look alike. Whenever we go to the graveyard to commemorate, we all go together and young Jeton never cries when we are there. “God commanded, and we have Jeton here” Yes, we have Jeton, but no one can replace the one that passed away.

After the war ended, Shefqet worked for free for a year at the KPC – Kosovo Protection Corps. We had a cow, milk, cheese, we had all of it. We educated all the children. We also had bees and honey. We still have. All the kids managed to attend universities thanks to him. He would sell milk and cheese. Most of the school teachers would buy from us because the school was nearby.

In the past, when Shefqet was in Kutllovc before the war started, he brought milk here. He was unemployed, so he sold milk and cheese as much as he could here in Tunel; he carried everything on his shoulders. Even the children, after we came here, they carried the milk, just so they could earn some money to get educated. They never misused that help, and they repaid him by studying hard.

But as a family, we never had money. Our children never asked, “Why don’t you give us 50 cents, 20 cents, or buy me something.” Never. Because they knew that we don’t have. Today they earn themselves. My daughter got married and she has two children. Liridon graduated from university. He studied abroad, he bought a car, and he built a garage. He also helped us repair this house. This house was in terrible shape, it was impossible to enter and live here. Even the stairs were not safe.

Liridon, thanks to his father with the honey he sold, but also thanks to the scholarship, had the money for himself to buy a car and also to send some to us. We don’t have a lot of wealth, but we are doing fine. The greatest wealth is being happy with your children. We have just enough. I take a pension because of my son, Shefqeti gets his own pension and also, he earns a bit with honey. This year was not good but overall, we are doing well. But Liridon gave us wings.

Fitore is the oldest girl. She graduated law at the university. Fitore was always very polite and very smart. Whenever we have an issue, we turn to Fitore. Before we take any kind of initiative, first we discuss it with Fitore. Fitore is incredibly intelligent, and she is well-spoken.

She completed her master’s degree, and then she met a boy. That boy was her friend’s brother. Fitore opened the office and started practicing law, in fact, Liridon helped her open it. She got engaged when she started practicing law. After she gave birth to a son, she had to take some time off from the office, but then she started working again. Then she had a daughter and she still didn’t start working.

Dafina is about to graduate from the faculty of education. She has prepared her dissertation, she will defend it in September, and get her diploma. Also, Dafina received a scholarship. Dafina had all the best grades. Also, Liridon and Fitore did. Valentina is attending the faculty for Albanian language and she is studying in Prishtina. She is doing very well just like all the others. Jeton is in the gymnasium, and he is a straight-A student. My dream became a reality since I couldn’t go to school myself. I still dream of going to school.

In this Jeton whose name I have renewed, I see the old Jeton when I look at his eyes and body. I couldn’t stand if someone would shout at him. I would get upset if he would complain, “It hurts me here” or things like that. My heart immediately aches for him. All of them are my children, but I couldn’t bear listening to him crying. I can’t even bear seeing him nervous. It just breaks my soul.

Three years ago, he was here and it was very cold, it was wintertime. He took a sled and he went down the asphalt, and on the way, there was a broken car, and he injured his leg there. A boy from the neighborhood said, “Come and take Jeton, because he got injured.” That time was the only time I yelled at him. When I saw his leg, he almost tore it to the bone. I said to myself, “Oh God, look what happened to him.” We took him to the doctor. A total of 17 stitches were needed. But thanks to God, he is well, of course he has a scar but he is fine now. What I wanted to say is that I can’t bear listening to him crying. I can’t even see him be nervous, because I always fall weak. Whenever I look at him, especially when he turns his back on me, he looks just like one that passed away.

In the beginning, after Jeton died, I dreamt of him but now it happens very rarely. I don’t see him anymore. In the beginning, I dreamt of him telling me, “For God’s sake, take Liridon and bring him sometimes to Kutllovc because you are keeping him inside all the time. It’s very beautiful weather in the morning, bring him”. We kept him inside, we would not let him out. They all would go to a swimming pool there, but we didn’t allow him. Today he rarely goes out, he even doesn’t go out during the night. He does his tasks and he doesn’t envy going out. The little one goes out more often.

When I dreamt of him the second time, he was all grown up, he was an adult. He was bald. I asked him, “My son, why did you shave your head?” and he said, “Over here where I am, they don’t allow hair.” I asked him, “Please stay with me a little longer.” And he said, “No, I stayed enough, I am leaving, it’s much better there.”

I remember these two dreams I’ve had. Now I don’t dream of him so often. 21 years have passed. On his birthday I wrote one page of text and I sent it with Viber to every member of my family. I will always remember him, a parent never forgets. Maybe also his siblings will not forget him.

When I go back and start thinking about it, I understand that it was wartime. Many people lost their loved ones. We did not see much of what they did. We just saw that our son was killed by a bullet. We did not experience rape or being beaten up. We didn’t see those things. But for me, it was enough of war.

All the Serbs that were here, I think that surely one of them has killed my son. That day they killed my son and then they went down, they caught my uncle’s daughter-in-law with family, they beat her up, they did terrible things to her. They beat her in the presence of the children, they hurt her. Her mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and children were there.

If I knew who killed my son, I don’t know what I would tell him. I couldn’t do anything to him because Allah is the only one who punishes. Whoever did this to a child of God, because my son was a child of God, he was only eleven years old, I would say, “May Allah punish you. May Allah bring upon you what you deserve. Because the child of God didn’t do anything wrong to you.” But, he was a Serb, he didn’t care if it was a child or a woman.

My son loved school very much, he loved reading books, he loved studying. A year after he was killed, I went to his school because they commemorated him at school. There was a girl and she recited a poem about him. No one could stop my tears. They even put flowers at his desk.

It was very hard for me, but some people lost their whole family. If only one survives, you must keep on living. I am happy with my children and I believe that God will give goodness to all. May God unite us in heaven with our loved ones, and I hope I will unite with my son. I hope everyone finds happiness with their own loved ones.

The story is extracted from the book “Hijacked Childhoods: Accounts of children’s wartime experiences’ and is published in series as part of the framework of coordinated activities of CSO’s in Kosovo, organized to mark the International Day of Enforced Disappearances – 30 August 2023. The book is published in partnership between forumZFD Kosovo program and the Missing Persons Resource Center, and is supported by funds received from the German Federal Ministry on Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Embassy of Switzerland in Kosovo. Prishtina, 2022.