“I felt like a traitor and the betrayed”

In an interview with journalist Mišo Marić, Sonya described her refugee experience. Among other things, she stated:

“My thoughts were in Sarajevo, with my loved ones, who did their best to dissuade me from returning every time we spoke on the phone. But what about my exhibition, my students, the school, my responsibilities? All became clear when we bought a copy of The European with the front page headline: ‘War in Yugoslavia heats up’.

“By way of three one-way tickets, we found ourselves on the rainy streets of London one October afternoon. I don’t like to think back to that time and don’t particularly want to describe the misery we went through, but can share one detail I remember vividly – the day before Tara’s first birthday, we had two pounds in our pockets, a room paid for another seven days, and my portfolio with about 15 drawings.”

“Once again, my craft came to my rescue. We managed to get £150 for one of my drawings in a gallery somewhere in London. Right then this seemed a fortune. We could even afford a muffin with a single candle for Tara’s birthday. We also managed to make a few calls from a telephone box and arrange a meeting with a representative of World Jewish Relief, who finally offered us a roof over our heads. I remain eternally grateful to them.”

“In late ’92, we were advised to hand over our Yugoslav passports and apply for British citizenship. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. Giving up something that you had been for 30 years was immensely sad – I felt like a traitor and the betrayed.”

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