Sanja Zlatanović’s respondents demonstrated exceptional knowledge of Albanian customary practice, as well as awareness of family and social changes since 1999. Zlatanović believes that the fact her respondents were familiar with the situation in the local Albanian community indicates that contacts were maintained. Sometimes members of the other group can more easily be confided in with family problems and other similar issues, or there is an ease in communication that is not there within one’s own group. Many respondents, for example, said that younger Albanians were happy to eat pork in Serbian homes, especially pork crackling, but they kept that a secret from their families. Zlatanović notes that some older respondents produced nostalgic reflexive discourse. They spoke excitedly and enthusiastically about mutual visits and conversations, deep trust, attentive exchanges, words of consolation that Albanians offered in difficult situations, home-made baklava that Albanians sent to their families on Bayram. The couple from Žegra repeatedly mentioned that Albanians are “gayretlis” (they know how to do gayret, to comfort and encourage; Gajrét, m. (Alb.) commitment, effort, help, encouragement. A college educated middle-aged respondent said that her Albanian colleagues made an effort to help her when she had health and family issues, and her Albanian manager also showed consideration and helped her keep her job. Returning from the world of memories to a gloomy reality was difficult. Some respondents had trouble understanding what and how in fact eventually happened with them. (Respondents R1 – a man born in 1928 in Žegra and his wife R2 born in 1934 in Čerkez Sadovina. R1 and R2 are a married couple, internally displaced in Gornje Kusce near Gjilane; the interview was conducted in 2006.)

R1: Where you go to their houses, you must talk family. It’s how you conduct yourself, how you show respect.

R2: First they ask you how your kids are doing, your family. Everything, everything about the kids, they’ll ask about each one. […] As for that, for that respect, I can’t say, they are much better at it than we are. I swear to God!

R1: They are gayretlis. […]

R2: And then we go visit them on Bayram, they would welcome us. They would visit us on Easter. This is how it was! And when the bombing campaign began… I couldn’t go, and he was there while the bombing continued. We still have the plate they sent us with the baklava. […]

R2: We went to the field. They built houses by the road. We’d go to the field to dig. Me and S, I was with S, me and S. were heading getting back home. This cousin of mine. And when Amet was building his house, his wife made tea. ‘Oh, M! Come in, S! Let’s have a cup of tea, you’re tired.’ You know, when you drink a cup of tea, you get your strength back.

R1: It’s Russian tea.

R2: It’s like a shot of liquor.

R1: Russian tea.

IS: Yes, yes, strong tea.

R2: ‘Come on, you’re tired,’ she says, ‘you were working in the field. Let’s get you a cup of tea.’ And we came in and had a cup of tea, we talked, she spoke Serbian. And we had a nice chat. We never had any trouble with them. But what happened? How did it happen? What is this misery? It’s uncanny! […]

R2: We were close, very close. Uncanny! I was amazed, that our Žegra would turn out that way, and we got along so well.

Source: Sanja Zlatanović, Etnička identifikacija na posleratnom području: srpska zajednica jugoistočnog Kosova, Etnografski institut SANU, Beograd, 2018, p. 309.


Image courtesy of Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.