Bratislav Stojanovic settles down the dead in Nis
Bratislav Stojanovic settles down the dead in Nis

A homeless man Bratislav Stojanovic, 43, has been sleeping with the dead in a cemetery in Nis, south Serbia for the past 15 years.

The former construction worker has never had a regular job and spends his time foraging for candles in the cemetery to keep him warm in his underground plot.

Such an austere lifestyle is difficult enough, but finding candles has become more difficult of late because the cemetery is out of use, meaning fewer and fewer people visit.

Stojanovic lifted the lid - literally - on his life, saying that living among human remains is not as unnerving as human society.

"I was afraid in the beginning, but I got used to it in time. Now I am more afraid of the living than of the dead," he told Reuters.

But he still takes care not to frighten people when emerging from his dank underground lair.

"Whenever I want to crawl out I first check if there's someone around, otherwise I could scare a person to death," said Stojanovic.

Home for him is a garbage-filled concrete space, spanning only two square yards. Given his choice of homestead, headroom is at a premium, with his dwelling just one yard high.

Who lives in a grave like this? Bratislav Stojanovic does
Who lives in a grave like this? Bratislav Stojanovic does

The former construction worker exists on a diet of food he collects from heaps of garbage and he constantly forages for cigarette butts dropped on the ground.

Living in a grave is a lonely life, unsurprisingly. Stojanovic used to have a companion who also lived in the graveyard and a girlfriend - but today he is alone.

"I had a friend who also lived at the cemetery, but he left as his grave was damp.

"I had a girlfriend, also homeless, but she's gone. She died, but it is nicer to say that she's gone," he said.

Nor does Stojanovic know the name of his hosts because the names on the broken gravestone have eroded away.

Stojanovic has made cemetery home
Stojanovic has made cemetery home

When not rooting through rubbish bins, Stojanovic passes the time in the cemetery by observing people visiting the church and counting how long they spend inside.

He explained what made him move to the cemetery and disturb the peace of the dead a whole decade and a half ago.

"As other homeless people robbed me on several occasions, I've decided to find a place where no one would bother me, not even police."