By Vanja Velisavljev, Liceulice
Mirjana Vasic can be seen at the most popular meeting point in Novi Sad – at the Cathedral. In her own words, she is there every day from nine to five. Her spot is just next to the souvenir shops, which may work well, because along with fridge magnets of Petrovaradin Clock Tower or many other symbols of Vojvodina, she is selling the magazine that is portraying the real picture of its citizens.
Mirjana Vasic was born in 1979. Twenty years ago, she came to Novi Sad from Lipljani in Kosovo – as she sometimes may jokingly say, even today you can see that she is not from here judging by her accent.
My childhood and youth I spent in Kosovo were wonderful. I still struggle to fit in here. Ever since I left my birthplace, I have felt dissociated and struggle with my mental health. I used to live there with my mum, dad, brother and sister-in-law. My best moments in life were from over there. I met a young boy when I was eighteen years old. He was nine years older than me. We were so much in love. We were together for four years. Then the war broke out.
After moving, for the first three years I lived on my own in Novi Sad, then my family joined. When I came to Novi Sad, I felt awful. People in Novi Sad are not as generous as in Kosovo. Here you can have a chat with your neighbor in front of their door and they would never invite you in.
I love coffee bars in Novi Sad. In the Cultural Center called ‘Lab’, I represent Liceulice magazine. With my best friend Sneža, I frequently go to Škrip [a picturesque village on the island of Brač, off the coast of Croatia]. She is also a vendor. I also love Ledinci [nearby countryside to Novi Sad] – there’s a forest all over the hills, you can’t see any houses!
Sneža is my friend outside work. At one point we tried selling the magazine together, but working in pairs didn’t work out. After work we sometimes go to eat pljeskavica, ćevapi or at a cheap restaurant. Our favorite, pljeskavica, is the cheapest one. We are coping well, Sneža and me…
“In my life I have fallen and picked myself back up. And I will fall again. But I will also get up again!”
I also have another friend, Ljiljana. She sells souvenirs. Then there’s Luka, my therapist. It really means a lot to me that I go to the sessions every fortnight on a Tuesday. I am always in a hurry to catch the bus, a and my session lasts for half an hour, but he always manages to give me the right advice for that brief time. I had suicidal thoughts at one point in my life, and he helped me greatly then. Perhaps somewhere in the world there may be a better therapist, but he is truly dear to me and there is no one like Luka. Through Liceulice, I meet real friends!
Selling the magazine is not the only source of my income. I earn a small pension. I now live with my brother, my sister-in-law, and my nephew. Me and my mum live in one part of the house, and they live in another part. My pension and income from selling the magazine, means a lot to us. I went to secondary school for food technology, and even before the war I tried to find a job in Kosovo in my field, but those plans were unfortunately ruined. For nearly two years I have been selling the magazine. You can earn money as a vendor. Many people have heard of this magazine, and stop to buy one. I have my own customers. Those who don’t want to know about it, they just pass by.
I have a hobby, too. I love makeup very much. I love heavy makeup, maybe not so much heavy, but dark makeup. I do put on a lot of makeup, since makeup can mend a lot of things.
My nephew’s name is Vanya, and he is the centre of my world. Every time he sees me, he says to me: “Hey aunty, what’s up!”. He also loves to put makeup on me! He loves to put on my nail polish and do my hair. Vanya means a lot to me.
In my life I have fallen and picked myself back up. And I will fall again. But I will also get up again!
Translated from Serbian by Katya Ven-vujetic
Courtesy of Liceulice / International Network of Street Papers