By Dr. Sadik Bejko
(Memories from lived events)
Memorie.al/January of 1974. Not only my job, my career (these are yes), but also my life seemed to be taking the river. I was given a firm order to leave my job as an editor at the Albanian Radio and Television and go underground as a coal miner in Memaliaj. For months I had made all my efforts, I had followed my plight officially, legally, but also with friends, comrades and acquaintances and I had not walked. The end … I was surrendered. I would succumb to fate.
Some of my relatives, who could and how could, were making a last-ditch effort to help me. Without waiting, without asking me, my wife was put on this path. We were in our first year of marriage. Homeless. We lived in the hotel “Durrësi”, where today there is a 15-storey building. The woman then, 23 years old, eight months pregnant, worked as a proofreader in school publications.
She was reminded that a friend of hers from the Faculty had her father as the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers. He had no close friends, but grief forces you to knock on many doors, in the hope that some of them will open. Take her aunt, who knew her house, and go to her for help. At the entrance to the house, he cried for his student friend. The daughter of the senior state official, was touched that her ex-girlfriend with her belly on her lips, was knocking on the door for a scratch to play the mind of the head. He immediately invites them home with his aunt. Soon comes the senior state official. He was hospitable. He listened. Said: The order for your husband to go, where he has been appointed, cannot be changed. “For you,” he tells Frida, “there is no such order. Do not leave Tirana, keep working ‘.
“I am alone, in a hotel, I am expecting a child …, I can not stay in Tirana. At least, I’m looking for my husband to work somewhere in one of the mines near Tirana. ‘ The officer who promised nothing when he escorted them to the door told them he could talk to me. And left a meeting at the Prime Minister in his office. My wife, even after many years, does not forget the good impression left by her ex-college friend. Even her father’s behavior was prone to good. But perhaps her impression of the senior official was wrong. He, advising her (repeated several times) to stay in Tirana, to continue working where she is, indirectly suggested separation from her husband. This, according to him, meant that her husband’s affairs had already taken a turn for the worse. An evil that did not know the end. So … to see the work.
How did he know that things were going so badly for me that he suggested to this bride with children in her womb that she separate from her husband? What office had he called before giving such advice? Perhaps the top officials of the time had every right and opportunity to access the files with secret information about anyone the state did not want. But where did he find my file so quickly, when the meeting at his house was spontaneous, unannounced? Maybe at any time for the task he had, he could get the information he wanted. With a call to an office. With a call to a trusted friend. But in the Prime Minister, did that man do any other work? Such questions are not just speculations. The reception and conversation I later had with him in his office at the Prime Minister would prove that he was more than a well-informed official. He was also a man inclined not to do good.
Such meetings with important people who have had on hand to influence your fate, stay in mind and be brought there for a long time. Perhaps the man who seemed important to you in those moments, in order to influence your destiny for good, did not have enough power. He could not influence for better or for worse. Power may not have existed, but has it been inclined to help you? I do not want to judge the man I met only once in my life. And I met him because he wanted to meet me. There was no formal or friendly obligation to me.
The conjectures, the question marks above all remain mine.
The reception at the Prime Minister took place after a few days. He was a tall and very elegant man in his dress, in his demeanor. His movements were agile, resilient. His blue suit was well cut behind the body. The covers of the armchairs where I sat had a design with hunting scenes. Hunters, greyhounds, forest, birds stylized on tree branches. An ocher color that was exchanged for green. Besides these armchairs creaked when you sat down, that their springs were tired.
The man seemed busy, was in a hurry to answer questions about his office. Let me wait a bit. Then he turned to me with an unofficial attitude, almost as if I were the son of one of his friends. This was not one of those officers to raise blood. A smirk on his lips meant the conversation would be friendly. It made me somehow open up to him. In those months of grief, I knocked on many offices. I was not so excited by senior state officials. Even when they waited well, they did not finish work. This one seemed different to me for its non-strictly formal style. Hey, he said to me, how can I apologize for having so much work to do, what can I do for you? I told him briefly that I wanted help with what had happened to me
“They lead you to work as an underground miner in vain,” he tells me.
I explain that I am being wrongly accused of forging a 7-year school diploma.
“Without explaining more,” he tells me. His eyes knew everything, mastered everything. He almost knew what I was about to say. I explained: I was a teacher in school A. The forged certificate bears the names, signatures, stamp, registration number of school B. How could I issue such a certificate, I am the teacher of another school. With a half smile he tells me we should leave, not to talk about the receipt anymore. It is a mess, a mess …! Then? “You,” he tells me, “three years ago were appointed to one of the most important institutions of the state, ART. Who recommended you ”? I told him the names of some of the famous poets and writers. My friends. “You talked, you worked, you met writers, musicians. Can you tell me something about the conversations I had with these people …. ”
Mention the names of four people. Three writers, one musician. In literature they were among the most important names. I met them often. In the months when we were at the peak of work, we woke up together. We ate, we drank. As the saying goes, we talked back and forth.
After the shock, I recovered. What you are asking me does not make sense. “Do you remember the conversations you had with your friends?” Like all people I have spoken, without thinking of recording what we have spoken spontaneously to my friends. Is there a man who remembers the conversations?
Now he changed his attitude. Suddenly he had become provocative, attacking with a look. He told me: “You understand what conversations I am asking you about. “These conversations are remembered.” Finally, this man had his teeth pulled out. He was asking me to spy on my friends. And this in a high state office, in the prime minister, in a neutral administrative institution, away from the secret service offices, from the state police offices!
So a little above I asked the questions: Where did this man actually work? I told her that I do not make those conversations that you think.
“Why,” he told me? “Until now you said that he makes so many conversations that he does not remember”! But not from those conversations you mean. I’m sure. I am firm in my conviction that I do not make conversations with anyone that could put me in a dangerous position. “Because of this conviction,” he told me with an almost sarcastic grimace. He was like in heaven, and I could see him as a broomstick on the floor. Why did I not make conversations from what you ask me? Because I know that if I am in danger, I have nowhere to lean, I do not have strong shoulders to protect me. Dad, my brothers are in the cooperative, they work the land. On this dark day, who am I next to? Behold, who is protecting me? I have always known this, so I am convinced that it is as I say. “You are convinced, but we have evidence,” he told me. “Now you will forgive me, until I finish a couple of jobs. “Go out into the hall and think about what I told you.”
I sat back in the armchairs clad in fabric designed with hunting scenes. I sat carelessly on one of the huts. He was so strong that he threw me up. He did not accept me. I sat down to another that creaked but to accept. Pas pak dera u hap. Hyra. You thought, he told me. I have no answer other than what I gave. I have not had unwanted conversations about the state with anyone.
Go away, he told me, good way to the mine. And … listen: lower your head and work. The message is: Lower your head and work. Even today I wonder: Did that man work in both the Prime Minister and the State Security?
Years later, I learned from National Intelligence Service officials that in my form file, compiled by the State Security, three of the names mentioned to me by the Senior Prime Minister’s official had made denunciations of me. Unfortunately, my friends and co-workers. I have never mentioned them publicly.
In the first months of working in the mine, every time I went out on the streets, in cafes, on the bus or anywhere I had a man behind me. When I got upset with them, I met them and said: “Didn’t you get tired of me, did you get a spy ?! Another one came to me. Then another. So in six or seven months they followed me step by step. My file was filled with files and other secret “friends” who spied on me wherever I worked.
I made a request to the File Authority and they replied in writing, that I did not have a Security file.
Now, in the weeks leading up to the April 25, 2021 election, I find that I have a patronage following me, not a hafiz as they once were. This patronage engineer, R. Hasa, lives near my palace. He had my personal details. To do a better job than that of eavesdropping on its citizens, this my state. Apparently the Security has left us the task of keeping people under surveillance! /Memorie.al