He did not die alone, with him twenty- two others were murdered. They were massacred . They were buried in a common grave , because thats what the families decided . Over night the childhood was gone.
I remember every little detail of those days. The picture of my massacred father who I coulld not recognise, I will never be able to erase from my memory. Those are traumas that will probably stay with you for the rest of your life. Two or three days after the funeral , my mother got sick . She had a nervous breakdown, and from January to October she was in the hospital .
From time to time she came home , but she could not stand it. She hanged herself ten months after father's death . So my sister and I stayed in the war all alone says for the " News " Aleksandra Budimir Mandic from Gracac with the current address in Gracanica. Memories as she fled from the " Storm " to Serbia , as a child , without anyone from her family with her, finished in Pristina recently she poured her story into the novel “unleashed monster." She unleashed everything that was eating her for years, and for which she had no power to speak about to her children.
After the death of your parents , who took care of you and your sister in Gracac ?
- We took care of ourselfs . We did have family , my mother is originally from Bosnia , and there she had brothers. At that moment , my father's father was alive, his brother and cousin , but none of them were very interested to take care of us . Why ? I do not know . Maybe those circumstances in which they lived . It was a war . They were all on the battlefield, and the battlefield was everywhere . And so, we still were completely alone in Gracac from 1993 to 1995. Until the "Storm" . Now the family is scattered everywhere . The only one with whom I am in contact with is my uncle who still visits us.
How did you manage to live and survive ?
- My father was in the good times working in a familiar motel “Lika roofs” . And with that experience , two or three years before the war, he and mother opened their own restaurant, so that there were some salaries and savings , but it was not unlimited . It was good while it lasted . After that we received some compensation from the Army , and that was barely covering the most urgent needs. We went to school and took care of everything ourselfs the best as we could. If you ask me today how did we make it - I do not know .
When you look back what do you remember most ?
- The father and mother's death . I remember every detail, every word and sentence. Do you believe that after so many years , I can smell their skin , how those memories are fresh . When I talk to my friends , they ask me , "Why do you not try to forget ? " But it's something I can not forget . It is unforgetable. I've learned to live with it and suppress it somewhere , but sometimes comes moments when it all comes back.
And then you were expelled ?
- Yes. Exactly, August 4. In general, my memories are so fresh, and always somehow present in me. And since I've been here in Kosovo , everything reminds me even more of that event . What can I say - I was fleeing eleven days . It was hard and painful for me. God forbid that I experience that now , I would not survive. But then, we have survived trauma after trauma , stress after stress. I never got to deal with one tragedy before i get hit by a new tragedy .
August 7, with just a few hundred feet I escaped the bombardement of the convoy in Petrovacka Street. I saw the airplanes, I heard the screams and cryings. There was blood everywhere, trucks on fire and parts of different vehicles scattered all over the place. It was the “Road to hell”, just horrible.
So to Pristina .
- I came first in Indjia from Inđije to Novi Sad, and then right to Pristina. In Pristina it was very difficult , because I was there alone. I came to Kosovo in mid-September , and only after a few months I found my sister through the Red Cross in Belgrade. The two of us got apart before the " Storm " , because it was summer vacation , and she finished the eighth grade and had a desire to enroll in secondary school in Belgrade . That is why together with a friend she went there , and during the " Storm" she was not in Gracac . So we lost all contact . Only a few months later she came to me . In the book, I put everything that 's been bothering me all these years. I just felt that I have to do this , because my son is exactly 14 years as I was when I was alone .
From Croatia to Kosovo
Aleksandra Budimir was born in 1979. in Zadar. She spent her childhood in Gracac . She finished elementary school in Gracac and two years of high school.
The winds of war had taken her in 1995. to Serbia , where, after a short stay she had to move to Pristina. She received her BA Secondary School of Economics , and then enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy .
In Kosovo she started a family . She is the mother of Philip and Andrew . She works as a teacher in preschool in Dobrotin in Kosovo, where she lives.
The book " unleashed monster ," Is her literary debut that is dedicated to " the shadows of our dear parents Dušan and Mirjana Budimir and children Philip and Andrew who are my everything in life ."
Have you been back to Croatia?
- I didnt go there for 18 years, then 2 years ago I went there for the first time alone . I can not describe it. I went for the exhumation of father's body , because I wanted to bury my father and mother side by side. The month in Gracac was like I never left. I came to the cemetery , as if I have been coming here every day. I was not even able to cry . Unconsciously I go through these stressful situations , but it gets to me later anyway.
A few years after your arrival in Kosovo, the war broke out . Everything happened again .
- As soon as I arrived in 1995, I knew what would happen . I said that right away . I just got lucky in the tragedy , since my husband is a professional football player , in 1998 we coulld go to Montenegro. So I was there and gave birth to the elder son , and we lived there at the time . However , all of Dragan's family remained in Kosovo , and again I went through it all with him. When the situation calmed down , I often came and stayed here for a month or two. Honestly, I knew it would be like this . I do not know if it's a same scenario , but every day here reminds me of how it was in Croatia. Only here it lasts longer .
Would you go back to Croatia ?
- When I went back two years ago, I thought I would find everything as I left . But all that was behind us were destroyed and burned down in 1995, and so it is still today . There is no change. Other than elderly people who have come here to die in their own homes , there are no more people . It's not the same city . In Gracac I spent the most beautiful, happiest and saddest moments , and I will always go back there. Now I also want to take my kids there to see it.
Because of your sons you wrote the book?
- I have two sons . One of 14, and a second one soon eight . The younger one still thinks that my husband's mother gave birth to me. In the house we do not talk about what was happening to me , so he has no idea. It was an additional inspiration for the book. To me now with two children to sit down and start talking about what happened to me , it never crossed my mind. I'd better write it so that when they grow up , let them read . They may then realize that when I was sad and feeling down , they were not the reason . I'm really trying to not involve them . But when the anniversary of the death of my father and mother, marking the "Storm " or when baptizing the children, and no one come to you in baptism ... thats heavy. It is not easy .
2007 the family goes to Norway in search of a new life, but after 3 years they are sent back. So in the ocean of beurocracy between 3 newly created Countries. (Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo) Alexandra today is neither Serb or Croatian citizen.. (!)