One thousand days ago, Sarajevo was an open, cosmopolitan place where people still thought of building bridges, not burning them.

The rumble of war that already had consumed neighboring Croatia was unmistakable, but Sarajevans were certain they could outrun or outmaneuver it.The illusion came crashing down in the balmy spring of 1992. On April 6, seven people attending a peace demonstration fell to snipers' bullets and the siege by Bosnian Serbs - some of them one-time neighbors - began.

In 1,000 days since, the city's landmarks have been destroyed, its trees felled for firewood, its cemeteries filled with 10,000 dead.

Sarajevans have been left freezing and hungry, dependent on handouts, embittered by a world they believe has failed and forgotten them.

Most have gotten used to living in the cage created by the Serbs and many, say mental health experts, have added walls of their own that may never come down.

Efforts to end the war are met with boredom and cynicism, including the latest U.N. efforts to broker a four-month cease-fire.

Samira, a 26-year-old woman with cervical cancer, said she will stay, even if it kills her.

Doctors have urged her to leave her native city through the one tenuous route - a tunnel under the airport and then over Mount Igman southwest of the city. She refused.

"I don't want to go," said Samira, who declined to give her last name. "Where would I go? They love me only here."

Like Sarajevo's 286,000 other residents, she is used to dodging snipers and taking precautions against mortar fire. Like a third of Sarajevo's residents, she has sought psychological counseling.

"Samira is a typical example of a Sarajevan who spend too long in her cage," said psychiatrist Meliha Kapetanovic. "She feels she belongs to a group here and is afraid of the outside world."

Anyone outside the cage - be they Bosnian Serb soldiers, U.N. officials who are trying to help, or even relatives not in Sarajevo - belong to the indistinguishable "others" who can't understand.

Kapetanovic questions whether Sarajevans will be able to live in harmony with others.

"They have created an `us' and `them' mentality, where everybody behind the surrounding mountains is a `them,' " Kapetanovic said.

Neither assistance nor expressions of sympathy are greeted with much enthusiasm.

Ismeta Dzemidzic, 52, sought counseling for the grief of losing her son to a shell that landed in her yard.

"I got an extra package of food from the municipality after I lost him," she reflected quietly. "I couldn't take it. It would be like eating my child."

Fazila Jahic, who was cleaning the floor in the health center where Kapetanovic works, found pity from others the most intolerable.

"It's humiliating," she said. "If I have survived 1,000 days, I will survive another 5,000."

Survival is the main concern.

It's difficult when a bundle of firewood costs the equivalent of $250 and the average monthly wage is less than $2.

When Sarajevans listen to the news, it's to find out whether there will be gas, water and electricity, rather than developments on the latest fighting or peace plan.

The siege has produced new professions. One of them is to be a sherpa. Some Sarajevans guide and carry baggage for people making the dangerous crossing up and down Mount Igman, trying to stay out of the sight of Bosnian Serb gunners.

One of them is a 62-year-old woman, who makes $6 for carrying small loads down the mountain, mainly for foreigners trying to get into the city.

The woman, who declined to give her name, said she had no choice but to take on the work. Her son is in the Bosnian army and her 68-year-old husband can't do it.

"I have to do it," she said. "Money is not falling from the sky."