Suzana: ‘A grenade fell and she just lay down’

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Suzana: ‘A grenade fell and she just lay down’

I was born in Sarajevo. Wherever I go I dream about that city. But then that damn war broke out. We fled down into the basement. We were there for four months without going out at all.

At last, we could finally go out. If you have been locked up for four months, the first thing you want to do is to jump in puddles. Large water puddles, because the asphalt had been bombed to pieces. Then came the alarm. I was out with my best friend at the time. We were wearing red boots. Dungarees. Hoody and dotted t-shirt.

We were known to be quite mischievous. ‘We have to run inside,’ I cried, but she stayed there and jumped in the puddle.

A grenade fell and she just lay down in the puddle. I went in by myself and told my mum that my friend was boring; she just wants to stay in the puddle and sulk. My mum understood what had happened.

We took her down to the basement and buried her there.

I talked to her when she was dead: ’You know, I will live double. I will live for both you and me.’

Then we came to Sweden, and I experienced it as beautiful and solidary. But perhaps it was only my childish naivety. I walked around like a queen. Mum was so clever; she told me all Swedes smile at you because they want you to be here. One time, a lot of people gathered outside the refugee housing. I heard them shout ‘Suzana! Suzana!’, and I thought, shit, they have gathered for my sake! I walked around in the sea of people and greeted everyone. But apparently the name of the biggest political party in Sweden sounds like my name.

We went back to Bosnia and I missed cinnamon buns, hot dogs and the Christmas spirit.

We returned to Sweden and I missed the solidarity I experienced as a child.

Now I ask people: ‘How have you been affected by Syrians who come here? Have you purchased fewer bananas? Shut off your electricity? Received worse medical care?’ They usually reply that they haven’t been affected personally.

So I ask: ‘What is it you are critical of then? Why are you angry?’

Go to Sweden and migration to get the bigger picture and the historical perspective.


of the immigration peak
from ex-Yugoslavia were
Bosnians & Herzegovinians

During the 1990s ethnic cleansing wars plagued the Balkans. In 1994 immigration from former Yugoslavia peaked: more than 40,000 people came to Sweden – the majority from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Last updated: 5 April 2017

Alexander Mahmoud


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