This is a story from real life, one that will mark you. For those who missed part 1, read it here.
Hassan, his wife and two boys were settled in Sarajevo now where he lived an average life of comfort and happiness with his extended family.
Hassan's mother however slowly became unwell and was diagnosed with cancer. A woman in her 50's, she was then cared for by his sister Emina. Things went downwards from there on. His majka (mother in Bosnian) passed away and the family of 7 were devastated.
Unrest in Bosnia
Milosevic comes to power in neighbouring Serbia in the early 90's and the world for Hassan and his family is about to change in more ways than anyone could have ever fathomed. A wave of unrest is spread through the Balkans, some decide to leave, but most of the others like Hassan stayed on beliving that it would probably get better.
The war, one that would last for years, breaks out in Sarajevo by Serb hands and in a short period of time the whole of Bosnia becomes the scene of autrocity, massmurder and genocide.
Everyone is trying to leave. There are buses taking the men away. Most of the men are murdered. Others manage to flee to neighbouring countries or refugee camps. Hassan's sister Emina escapes with her daughter but her husband is placed in a concentration camp.
Hassan, intelligent and skilled as he was in his profession, was much too valuable for the Serbs to kill. They held Sarajevo under siege for 4 long years, the longest time for a siege in European history. Hassan knew the electrical wiring and system of all of Sarajevo and thus was held hostage together with his family.
His house was occupied by soldiers who made sure his family didn't escape along with everyone else, and everyday like clockwork, they would come early in the morning and pick him up for duty at the electrical power plant in Sarajevo, and after slaving away the whole day walk him back to his two boys and beloved wife.
Refugee in Sweden
Hassan's sister Emina made it to Sweden with her 4 year old girl, and eventually she managed with the help of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations, find her husband and get him to Sweden too. Hassan's other sisters and brothers fled to Germany, but his father, was not as lucky. The Serbs killed him along with most of the men in his family.
Hassan however, was still alive and his sister knew it.
The only way for a Bosnian stuck in his own city under siege, to leave the city, was through military escort and/or human rights organisations with letters from other European Governments, picking the people up. Even Serb soldiers would not be able to go against that and would have to let go whomever they held hostage.
Emina, herself traumatized by the news of the death of her and Hassan's father, did whatever she could to try and get Hassan and his family to Sweden. She wrote letters, and she was visited in the refugee camp in Sweden by humanitarian and Swedish government workers who helped her with a letter that would serve as a salvation for Hassan and his family. In it she had to state the exact names of his wife, son and Elvir, his stepson.
Coming for Hassan
An envoy came to pick up Hassan and his family and the letter with all names was presented to the Serbs, with all the names of written on it, but it was rejected twice because Emina had written Elvir's name (Hassan's stepson), with Hassan's surname instead of his mothers surname as is written in his passport.
In all her trauma, Emina forgot that Elvir had mainatined his mother's surname and not his stepfather Hassan's and when she was informed of the letter being rejected she quickly tried to rectify it and got a new letter made. Another envoy was sent.
One day Hassan didn't come back home after his long forced labour at the electrical power plant. The envoy came to get the family, this time with a complete and full letter with all the correct names in it, but of course Hassan was missing. He was to be missed for 30 days, when one morning Hassan's wife gets a call from the Serbs who had taken him and is informed that he is now dead and they wanted to know if she wanted his body, otherwise they would dispose of it.
His murdered body was later thrown by the gate of his home and word was now sent to Emina in Sweden. It was too late. Hassan was no longer. He knew too much, it was too risky to let him go.
Hassan's wife and two children escaped heartbroken with the envoy and were taken to Sweden.
As for Emina, she is tormented everyday having lost her father and most of his family and her beloved brother. She sometimes asks herself, "What if I hadn't written Elvir's name wrong? Maybe Hassan would still be alive."
What's in a name...
Note: Real names used in the story have been altered.