Wednesday, September 20, 2017
St. Louis Bosnians

Stories from Before – Lela Jasarevic

Today we are sharing second story from the book called “Stories from Before – The New Voices of Immigrants in St. Louis“. Book itself is a collection of more than 40 stories, that recount tales both dramatic and mundane of immigrants now living in St. Louis. This is second story featured in the book, written or narrated by the Bosnian immigrant attending classes at the St. Louis Community College

Lela Jasarevic

Lela Jasarevic in 2003

I was born February 10, 1966, in Ivangrad, Montenegro. When I was three months old, I left Montenegro and went with my parents to live in Sarajevo, Bosnia. (At that time Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Serbia and two provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina, were one country named Yugoslavia.)

Four years later, my father died. I was four years old, and my brother was four months old. My mother took good care of us, and we had everything, except a father. I grew up in Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city of my youth and love. I had my first step, my education (elementary school, high school, college), my first love, my marriage, and my fist child there.

In 1992, war started in my country and I had to leave my hometown with my two-year-old son. I left everything there; my mom, brother, husband, house, car, job, and friends. I just took my son and two suitcases and went to Austria, where my life became uncertain. In Austria I lived with my son for ten months. After ten months, my husband came to be with us. After Austria we went to Germany where something incredible happened. My second son was born. In Germany, we lived for three and a half years. Then we came to the United States.

Today we are here in St. Louis, American citizens. I am a mother, wife, full-time employee, and student again. I am happy with my family. I realize that my travels started when I was three months old, and God only knows what is going to happen tomorrow. I can pray and hope that I am done with my travels. I have found peace in this beautiful country.

The Fishing Boat

Every time my mother and brother and I went to the Adriatic Sea on vacation. We stayed in the same hotel. The people who worked in the hotel were nice to me, and I liked them a lot. I remember a day in the summer when I was six years old.

It was a perfect day. The sun blazed a hot, golden yellow, and the sy was cloudless. My mother had told me never to swim far from shore. She said that was dangerous for me. I told her not to worry. I loved to swim, and that day, I looked for my friend, Emina, who I had met there. She was the same age as me. Emina’s father was a captain in the army, and she and her family had moved by the sea when Emina was one year old. We swam and swam. I forgot what my mother had told me. When we turned towards shore, people looked little, like ants. My friend was in a panic, and I was afraid too.

Just than, I saw a fishing boat coming toward us.It was red, and blue, small and very old. When I told Emina, she became calm. The fisherman was an old man with a pipe in his right hand. His hair and beard were white. His skin was a golden brown from the sun, and his eyes were as blue as the Adriatic Sea. Barefoot, he wore a blue and white short sleeved shirt and blue pants. I especially remember his face. Something in his eyes reminded me of my grandfather. When he pulled us into the boat, I felt safe and secure. I was alos a little scared, bu his smile encouraged me. He spoke softly to us as he brought us to the shore.

My mother was furious. She hissed at me. I was so ashamed. I wanted to tell her how I felt, but she didn’t want to listen to me. I had a bad presentiment, I was in big trouble. My mother punished me, I could not eat ice cream, candy, or chocolate for one week. One week without ice cream and candy was for me a long time. But I ad to accept the punishment. I promised her that I would never do something like that again. She kissed me and gave me a hug.

Everybody in the hotel knew how much I loved chocolate and ice cream. They decided to help me out, and they sneaked me a little ice cream after lunch. We stayed one more week. My mom forgave me for disobeying her, and we enjoyed the rest of our vacation.

Lela Jasarevic, Bosnia
St. Louis Community College

Information!
Book Stories from Before – The New Voices of Immigrants in St. Louis can be purchased through Amazon, or in the Missouri History Museum giftshop.

About The Author

stlbosnians

The St. Louis Bosnian is an online database of Bosnian community in St. Louis. The purpose is to document and preserve existence of the Bosnian immigrant community in metropolitan St. Louis area. Through published books, articles, interviews, researches, videos, photos as well as speaker series, seminars, workshops and educational classes. We hope to leave the legacy of our community to the future generations.

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