One Step Beyond – Bosnia – People – Dejan Babalj
My name is Dejan Babalj. I was born in Sarajevo on September 6, 1977. The accident happened in the area close to the Base of Butmir, which is now an airport, on April 18, 1996. I was eighteen.
I don't know if it's right to tell you the story. I hate that day, and I don't want to remember that part exactly. How it happened. But I'll try.
Coming back from school, a friend of mine suggested we go check out some sport planes. These planes were destroyed during the war. Actually, they'd never been used in this war. So, after school, we went to that spot and played on the planes. It was the first time I had seen planes so close up; I could actually sit in the cockpits. They were completely destroyed – just a few switches left – and there was nothing in them.
After that, we headed home along a sort of country road leading to the main road. And I remembered: the front line of the war in Bosnia had been close to that road. All that happened after the war. And on our way home, my two friends and I just played with the concrete and rubble. And I stepped on the brick. And below that brick, there was a mine. I can't really remember the moment I stepped on the brick. I just remember trying to take another step. And I felt the pain in the area around my kidneys. The same pain you feel in your hip when you're walking through the dark and unexpectedly step into a hole. I looked down and saw that my left foot had been blown off.
I don't know, just after that, they called the ambulance and drove me to the hospital. My friends stayed with me. Actually, only one of them stayed with me because the car was too small.