Wednesday, May 3, 1995, was supposed to be a peaceful day in besieged Sarajevo for 12-year-old Dzemil Hodzic, as a ceasefire had been declared.
It was a sunny day and with no shooting or shelling from Serb forces who held Bosnia’s capital under siege, the streets were full of children, eager to play outside and enjoy the fresh air.
But two hours in, with a single bullet, the day turned into a nightmare for Dzemil, a chilling memory etched forever in his mind.
A Serb sniper positioned on a notorious cliff called “Spicasta Stijena” killed his older brother Amel while he was playing tennis, shooting him in the chest.
The 16-year-old managed to walk some 20 metres towards his home, bleeding from his wound, before he fell to the ground.
Amid the screams and cries, Dzemil’s mother rushed outside and attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Amel, but he had already died on her lap.
“I could tell she knew [at that moment] it was over,” Dzemil said from his home in Doha, Qatar, where he works as a video editor.
“That day I can say that my childhood ended, but I wasn’t aware of it. I was suddenly grown up mentally because his death made me stronger,” Dzemil said
Dzemil remembers his brother as a role model, a hero and a talented artist, who would often draw portraits of his younger sibling to hone his skills.
But like all other families at the time, Dzemil’s family did not have the means to take any photos during the brutal siege of Sarajevo that dragged on for nearly four years.
Memories can easily fade or alter after some time, but photographs last forever. Having only a small headshot photo of Amel from that time, taken for a scholarship application, is something that has bothered Dzemil for the past 25 years.
The last photo he has with the brothers together is from 1991 before the war broke out in Bosnia.