This is a fragment from Sanja Zlatanović’s research, and it indicates that many Serbs from Kosovsko Pomoravlje, especially those from ethnically mixed areas, nurtured deep, multi-generational friendships with Albanians. This was especially true for men; women could maintain more formal contacts. An older respondent (born in 1942 in Donja Budriga, interviewed by Sanja Zlatanović in a collective accommodation facility in Vranjska Banja 2003) talks about how her dying husband, as a refugee, said that he would wish to see his old Albanian friend and how he would not mind dying then.

Respondent: Oh, what friends they were, he and my husband! When he was about to die, you’d hear him cry out: ‘If only I could go to Žitinje’, he’d say, ‘just to see Berqir, and then I wouldn’t mind dying.’ […] Every two or three days, that man would come to see him, my husband. And then, a couple of days later, my husband would go to his place. That’s what they were like, like brothers.

Interviewer: And when did they become so close?

R: Since childhood, when they were grazing cattle together. Ever since then, they never drifted apart. Whenever there was a dance in the village, the two of them would get together and go watch. Whenever there was music playing, you know. That’s what it was like back then. On Svintala, you know, we had those village fairs. And they used to go. Those two adored each other.

On a second meeting, two years later, this respondent returned to the relations with the Albanians in the village of Žitinje, and to parting with their neighbors when first their neighbors fled and then when they themselves had to flee. There are no Serbs left in Žitinje:

R: We got along great. Like you wouldn’t believe! […] First, when they fled, we all cried for them. […] And after ten days, they returned, and later, in August, we fled. They fled around Easter, and we in August. And they, when we left, they cried so hard.

Source: Sanja Zlatanović, Etnička identifikacija na posleratnom području: srpska zajednica jugoistočnog Kosova, Etnografski institut SANU, Beograd, 2018, p. 307-8. 

Image courtesy of aleksandarmiletic | MALI VELIKI LJUDI

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