Today, fifteen-year-old Zlata Filopovic (below), Sarajevo's
most celebrated diarist, writes for herself. She lives with
her parents in Dublin, Ireland now and keeps the kind of journal
she has always wanted to keep."When I started writing a diary
when I was eleven, I wanted it to be something you would open
up twenty years later and laugh about," says Zlata. "Then
war came and everything changed. No more parties, no more
happy times, no more friends. It became a war diary. I just
wanted to write down notes. But it became a place to express
myself. Paper can be a great friend."
Published around the world as Zlata's Diary, the book
offered a teenager's unvarnished view of urban war. It also
allowed her family to leave Sarajevo and move first to Paris,
then Dublin. Zlata says she likes Dublin, that people have
made her feel welcome, that she's made new friends at school.
But the war holds on. A few weeks ago, Zlata's 75-year-old
grandfather died, a result, says Zlata, of living without
electricity and too little heat for so long. "It's been very
hard for all of us, especially my mother," she says. "We could
not be there when he died, could not attend the funeral. We
could not even put a flower on his grave."
Last June, as the featured guest of an online chat for Kidlink--an Internet network of 60,000 students
and teachers from forty-five countries--Zlata spoke of many
things, from her experience of spending much of the past few
years in the basement to her favorite band (Pearl Jam). She
also talked about her grandparents. "Why did your grandparents
stay in Sarajevo?" one teenager wanted to know. "Because as
they say," replied Zlata, "you cannot replant an old tree."
Another asked: "What was the worst experience you had to
cope with in Sarajevo?"
"I don't know," responded Zlata, "because for me, the war
was like one day where each second was terrible. Maybe when
my mother went out, and she didn't come back home, or when
my friend was killed."
Now that Bosnia is back on the evening news, Zlata often
sees film footage of the place where she was raised. It is
ravaged, battered, and scarred, but she keeps in her mind
images of what she calls "old Sarajevo," a city she remembers
as "one of the most beautiful places in the world." She says
she doesn't know when or if she an