By Reshat Kripa
Memorie.al / I were working as usual in my office, when I heard a light knock on the door. – Come in! – I spoke out loud. An elderly man entered the office. His face showed great pain. He closed the door and stood behind it. – “Order! Order”! – I invited him. He approached slowly and when he came near me, I held out my hand which he grabbed with both hands. – “Mirdita my son! – He spoke to me – My name is Milto Neranxi and I am from Himara. I came to you to tell you my story, or rather my son’s, who disappeared through the labyrinths of the communist dictatorship”!
– “Sit down, sit down”! – I invited him, gesturing to him from the chair. I ordered two coffees to be brought to us and addressed the newly arrived guests: – “I’m ready to listen to you”. – “The event I’m going to tell you about,” he began, “is my indictment against the overthrown dictatorship and some individuals who became its embodiment. Those individuals are still today and live with anonymous faces. I, the eighty-year-old man, burdened by the loss of his son, in the labyrinths of the inhuman dictatorship, make this accusation.
They made it the soul of a mother, who left this world after she could not bear the loss of her son. They made her a twenty-five-year-old woman, who lost her husband and her life. It is made by two children, who a bloody hand forced them to grow up without their father’s caress. Finally, this was done by every honest person who hears about the monstrous feats of the enigmatic disappearance of so many people, like my son.
The old man took a deep breath, letting out a long sigh. Meanwhile, the two coffees I ordered arrived. – “Happy”! – I said, addressing the poor old man. He turned the cup slowly, whispering a greeting that I couldn’t understand. He shook a cigarette from his case and mine too. I was looking intently at his face, waiting for the continuation of the story.
It was a very interesting story. However, I did not speak to him, but waited for him to start on his own. But the old man continued to drink his coffee without speaking. I also continued to drink without speaking. Finally, as he finished, he began:
– “Leandro Neranxi, or Levisi, as his friends called him, was my son. He was only thirty-two years old. He worked in the extraction factory in Himara. I’ll never forget February 15, 1988. Went to work on second shift and never came back. We anxiously awaited his return. It was a terrible wait. Especially I who knew some things about him, I was very worried. After midnight, I got up and went to the factory.
There I asked about it, but they told me that; Levis didn’t show up for work at all. What should I do? I returned home. I told my wife and daughter-in-law that I would work two shifts to replace one of his friends. That was the longest night of my life. So the next day passed in anxiety. Levis was not coming alive. Where would he be?! My mind wandered to all sorts of mysterious and terrifying circumstances.
– ‘Isn’t there a woman in the middle or a man’? – asked the woman who was also starting to worry. – No my wife, no! – I answered, convinced of what I was saying. Such a thing was not possible. I knew my son’s character. He would never accept, abandon his wife and children, for anyone else.
The next day I went to the police and told them about the boy. They left as if they knew nothing. Operative Agimi suggested me to ask my people in Tirana, Fier and Lukovë. I got them that day, everyone on the phone, but they didn’t know anything.”
At this time, the old man took out the tobacco box again and shook the second cigarette. He offered it to me too, but I told him I didn’t drink it. As he inhaled it three or four times, he continued: – “After two days in the evening, operative Agimi comes to the house, accompanied by Spirua, the Chairman of the United Council and several other policemen.
They checked and raided everything. Finally, Agimi asked me where my grandfather’s photo was. It was a big old picture, framed. I told him. He took it, took it out of the frame and behind it he found a letter which he put in his pocket.
– “What is that letter”, – I asked him. He did not answer me. As they checked a little more and found nothing, they left without saying a word. After a few days, they informed me that I had to report to operative Agimi. I went and was ushered into his office.
– “Your son has betrayed the homeland, – he told me – and has escaped to Greece”. I left not believing in the new version that was served to me. If only it were true, such a thing. But my heart stopped, that this was not so. My son, he could not do such a thing. He had told me many other things, and if he had such a thing in mind, he would surely have told me.
A shiver ran through my body. For the first time I had the thought that my son had been killed and they invented the alibi of escape to cover their tracks. The old man shook his third cigarette and offered me one again. This time I didn’t object, but turned it on. I ordered two more coffees. When they came, we started drinking them more slowly. Then the old man continued:
– “However, I wanted to make sure. I went to Vlora and Tirana. I became interested in the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry. But everywhere I got the same answer. The wires were tuned everywhere, the same. When I was in Tirana, I wrote a letter to a cousin of mine who lived in Greece.
He was interested and after some time, he answered me back. There was no sign of the boy. That’s when my conviction was strengthened, that they had disappeared from me. Such a thing strengthened me even more with an episode that the boy had told me some time ago”.
The old man was silent and thinking. I sat and waited without speaking. At this time, an employee entered the office and handed me a document to sign. I signed him absentmindedly and motioned for him to leave. After a long silence, the old man continued:
– “One day, Agimi called him and proposed to become an associate of State Security. The boy refused. Family tradition did not allow him to practice that dirty profession. They kept him for four hours, under constant pressure. In the end, they let him go, advising him not to tell anyone what had happened.
After a few days, they took him again and took him to one of the rooms of the “Adriatik” hotel in Vlora. There, Pirrua, the deputy head of the Branch, asked him to testify against Lea Dhimojani, who was arrested a few months ago. The boy refused again. Then they started to torture him. They kept him for two days. When he returned home, he looked disfigured. I was very shocked when I saw him in that condition. I asked him what had happened to him. He told me everything.
– “Congratulations, my son! You didn’t embarrass me. – I told him proudly, hugging him. From that day, they did not call him again. I thought they had forgotten. But I was wrong. After two months, they took him away, never to return. Such a thing is reinforced by the fact of the letter that Agimi found in the photograph of his grandfather. Who had told him that there was a letter there, where even I didn’t know, such a thing?! It must have been my son, constrained by inhuman tortures, which would have taken his life.
After a year, another disaster happened to us. The woman could not bear the pain and closed her eyes forever. This is the whole story, for which I have come to you. I only want one thing. Put it on paper and publish it in a newspaper. If I could not discover anything, at least humanity will learn the horrors of that period”.
I promised him that I would fulfill his wish. I also told him that I would pursue the case at the police station, where a friend of mine was the chief. – “There is no trace left. – He told me – I was interested. I also met the chairman. He was a good man. He searched everywhere but found nothing. They had destroyed all the documents. While the perpetrators of this crime, Pirrua, Agimi and Spirua, had flown to Greece, where a devil knows what they are dealing with. I tried all the way to Greece, but again I didn’t find anything”.
We got up and went outside. I begged him to stay for dinner and spend the night together. He did not accept. I escorted him to the Himara bus. We hugged and parted. When the bus left, I greeted him with my hand. From that day I did not see him again. After a year I learned that he had closed his eyes. I summarized my story in an article that I published in the local newspaper and in one of the central newspapers. Memorie.al