From Novruz Xh. Shehu
Memorie.al / Although with two heart operations, at the age of 69, the poet Dalan Luzaj, the president of the Association of Albanian-American Writers, in those days felt it necessary to cross the Atlantic, from Chicago – Illinois, and arrived in Albania, to celebrated his birthday on August 3, in the internment hut in the village of Sherishte Vlorës, together with his wife, Burbuqe. Both had not known their fathers, after both had left for America, persecuted by the communists, both had been associated everywhere with the zeal of vigilance against the “enemy”, both were engaged under the conditions of this paradoxical “equality”, they got married, four children were born and for 23 years in a row, they spent the internment in a straw hut, in the village of Sherishta, a hut that will remain in their memory for the rest of their lives.
I had met him in June 2010, at the “Tirana” Hotel, where he had accompanied the Anglo-American poet Frederik Turner, together with the researcher, poet and writer, Gjek Marinaj, in a meeting with Albanian writers and artists. On July 27, that year, while I was drinking coffee, in one of the thousands of chairs placed on the sidewalks of Tirana, a charming man stood next to me, radiating kindness, peace and obvious nobility.
“Excuse me; do we know each other…”?! He asked me. I told him that we should definitely get to know each other…! “I am Dalan Luzaj…”, he affirmed, and this name reminded me of the words given in an interview for “Illyria”, to Mrs. Kozeta Zylo: “I have never in my life confused the Motherland with the Parties…! He left a pain on top of the pain, which conveys the wonders of the sons…”, he said.
He gave me his book “The Internment Hut”, published after four poetic volumes. To the question of what the “Hut” represented, he answered that; He spent his childhood in the Cold Water of Vlora, where he also attended primary school. In 1962-1963, he graduated from the Pedagogical High School “Jani Minga” in Vlora.
He worked for a few years as a teacher in the villages of Tepelena, but they remembered that he was the son of Professor Isuf Luz, one of the most prominent personalities of nationalism in Albania, co-founder of the Social-Democratic Party with Musine Kokalari and Kastriot Muço…!
Prof. Isufi, although he was for a while a friend in Paris, with Enver Hoxha, and later a teacher at the same Lyceum, in Korça, as well as with his family, was targeted by the shooting, which he narrowly escaped immediately from the Motherland in October 1944, leaving behind his wife and five children, who were chased and kept under the hellish agony of the chains for every night in his dreams.
This particular hut in Sherishte, covered with sheets that dripped in the winter, with walls of straw and mud that often fell from storms, with water that often ran between the beds made up, could not be forgotten and it would be placed in the memory of Dalan, sisters and brothers and nephews and nieces, to make a pilgrimage to that place…! That hut has been demolished, but the place is still there, and Dalani has ordered a plaque to be placed on it with the inscription: “Friends, sons, and compatriots of every stratum and period of time…, we stayed here for 23 years, exiled without any guilt…! May we never forget you, may it never happen again…”!
In 1990, Dalani went to the American Embassy, where he told the employee Gabriela that he hadn’t seen his father in 45 years and he was in America…! Gabriela could not speak…! It is not known what pain and drama he felt in those moments…! He just wrote in a letter: “Tell my father to write to the American embassy that he is sick…”! Eh, Gabriela decided to ask to lie, even to be punished, but only to erase from the face of the earth the drama of this boy who….!
Right now, I just can’t write…! It is impossible for me to describe, overwhelmed by a feeling that I cannot bear, I am repeating word for word, (apologising for how I took permission), what Dalani wrote in 2010:
“I left the office and went to the post office; I explained to my father what Gabriel told me
– Yes, son – answered my father, – now leave it to me.
He had talked with the Italian ambassador and we were left with the preparation for departure.
In a short phone call I asked him:
– Well, I’m going to leave, but I don’t know you?
– The man you will see wearing white at the port in Trieste is your father.
Testimony of Dalan Isuf Luzaj
The departure took place one day in August 1990, with a modern ferry “PALLUMBJA”. Oh God, how long was the road from the port, the entrance to the ferry…! Emotions and the fear of returning, or worse, an arrest, accompanied us the whole trip. This nervous war of motives was accompanied by a constant movement of mine, without seeing and feeling that my whole body was water, I could feel the sweat all the way to my shoes, and it felt like I was in Sherishte with my boots cut with water inside…! I was separated, my body on the ferry, while my depraved mind found no place to stay. I was brought to my senses by the shock of the moving ferry; I still couldn’t believe it…!
The ferry floated into neutral waters and I started saying BABA, I practiced how to say it, how to pronounce it, this was a word from a dictionary unknown to me, would I say it giving the feeling that the words mother and father, they have inside the sweetness and love, duty and responsibility that we lacked, so I didn’t build them correctly.
I couldn’t sleep, next to me was the “Dalmatian” coast and above me a full moon that traveled with us until the morning dawn.
Slowly, which for me were months away, Trieste was approaching, in which the buildings and the people could be seen. A crowd of people was seen in a mere seaport.
Behold, I said to my heart, among the crowd a tall man in white who stood out among them as a stranger among strangers.
As soon as the ferry touched the ground, I went over to the ground without leaving the boats.
I was getting close to whom…?!
The sun was burning, my father didn’t expect me to come out so soon and he was talking to someone in a language that even today I don’t understand, I didn’t understand, because I didn’t ask him.
I approached him, O Lord, give me strength, I was praying!
I faced him…! Love, pain, shock, absence and sorrow of the mother, who a year ago we left under the cypress tree and did not see a white day, and today she was missing, the suffering and all the worries of life are stuck in the throat and I no longer they allowed me to speak…!
These kinds of emotions are very rare that I have experienced, but my bad thing is that I cannot convey even the smallest part of them…
I was full of sweat and a strange phenomenon happened to me like: “if any of you have tried it in your sleep, in the middle of a scary dream that asks for help, wants to speak and can’t speak…”!
FATHER, I don’t know what came out of my soul, a part of him or that guy who took my breath away…! A chain of tears fell from his eyes…! We were face to face. He was wrapped up, he was holding me, and my head was on his chest. I felt my father’s scent after 45 years, to believe that it was mine; I felt on my hair the drops of the shelter of the hut, where we were interned, that dripped on me in the fall.
I was in an unknown world, is the world of parents big and especially of the one who had left us such a big gap? I don’t know how long we felt that I wasn’t focused, it was time, or a lived dream…? He pushed me away and with his hands on my shoulders he looked at me deeply, that look that penetrated to the blood…!
– Why so weak my son…?!
I heard “son” for the first time which came and became like an umbrella. I felt a kind of warmth that I had not felt, warmth of the soul not of the skin.
It rocked me and I felt a seismic shaking centered in those square inches where our souls communicated with a divine command.
The one, who had lost the war and the family, was knocking inside himself the bitter past and undoubtedly, affirmatively carried the part of the “guilt” that he had burdened him all his life.
I looked into the glasses of Trieste that sent all the sun with a light that seemed to be the soul of that Light (my mother’s name), who suffered so much pain, which we were never separated from…”!
– Dalani, has four children. In America, in the year 2000, a few days before his death, his father, Prof Isufi, was given the task of publishing the collection of 120 handwritten books, placed in a coded safe. So far, 10 books have been published by Professor Isufi, by the poet and researcher Xhevat Beqaraj…! Unfortunately, the media has done very little, or more precisely, Albanian intellectuals have not seriously focused attention on this multifaceted figure: Philosopher, poet, writer, politician, appreciated by American presidents Reagan and Bush, among the greatest personalities in Italy, France, Argentina, etc.
The work of Prof. Isuf Luzaj, despite the unusual dedication of Xhevat Beqaraj, has not been spread and propagated enough.
The Academy of Sciences and the Albanian universities are not putting this distinguished personality of the American universities and beyond in their programs. The Publishing House where his books were published did not distribute and advertise at the level that this great man of the nation deserves…!
Portrait of Isuf Luzaj
– Life on the run and career peaks –
Isuf Luzaj (1913-2000) was born in Kanina on February 21, 1913, in a religious family; his father was the village headman. Isuf Luzaj completed primary school in Vlora in 1926. He attended high school in Shkodër, where he graduated in 1933. In the second year, he won a scholarship from the high school to study abroad; he applied for a scholarship but was rejected. In order to study, he was forced to sell his part of the land with olives. In 1933 he went to Paris.
After enrolling and completing high school, he enrolled at the Sorbonne University. Due to economic impossibility, he was forced to withdraw from his studies in France. He returned to Albania in 1936. After swearing in front of King Zog, he began working at “Normalen” in Elbasan, as a French teacher, whose director was Aleksandër Xhuvani? Then he was transferred to the high school of Korça, also as a French teacher, in the period 1936-’38, where the future leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha, also worked at that time.
After the “Bread Protest” held in Korça on November 28, 1938, he was transferred to the Commercial Institute of Vlora where he taught literature. In 1938, he published the first collection of poetry entitled “Confessions”. After publishing this collection, which did not even manage to be distributed properly, he was imprisoned, and the poem “Neroni” was the trigger. After he was brought to court, after 94 days in prison, he was released as innocent…! With 120 students, he had decided to fight against the Italian troops (which landed on April 7, 1939), together with Hysni Lepenicës and Skënder Muço, he participated in the protests of the youth and citizens of Vlonia, on November 28, 1939, with the Albanian flag without the marks of the Lictor.
Suspected of the murder of an Italian policeman, imprisoned in Vlora, transferred to Durrës from where, after a few months, transferred to Brindisi, Italy, with 12 students of the Commercial Institute of Vlora, from there to Gaeta, from there to Ventotene (island), until 1942. From here, it is transferred to the castle of Cortona D’Arezzo, because of some poems dedicated to the War of Vlora. There he came into contact with Ali Këlcyra, Mit’hat Frashëri, Fuad Bey Dibra and Lef Nosi, who had written the Decalogue of the National Front in the castle. Isufi proposed that the seventh point should be included in the “Dekalog”: “The organization of the “National Front” will reveal the true values, will educate people regardless of faith, region or political party.”
He was released from prison and returned to Albania in October 1942. He organized the “Balli” detachments in Dukat. In Selenica, he commanded the 13-hour war, emerging victorious over the conqueror. In 1943, in the village of Vajzë, he entered an Italian armored car, where he fought for more than an hour. He joined the patriots of the country and was an active participant of the Mukje Conference. Participates in the establishment of the Social-Democratic Party in the districts of Shkodër, Tirana and Vlorë, with Musine Kokalarin and av. Skender Muço on October 12, 1943…! In 1944, on November 28, he left Albania, leaving his wife and 5 minor children in Kania.
The eldest son was only 7 years old. He went to Italy and was arrested there, as a suspect for the murder of General Zanini. It is requested by the Albanian communist government to repatriate, to submit to the “people’s trial for war crimes”. He worked for more than 2 years, on the recommendation of Sandro Pertini, with whom he had met in Ventotene, in the Vatican Library, during his sentence-internment. After the amnesty, he leaves prison and settles in Brescia, where he teaches Latin in a seminary near the city. In 1948, he left for Argentina. He started working at the Ministry of Education as a translator of French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.
In addition to this work, he also prepared news for Radio “Europa e Lire” and the newspaper “Laprensa”. Meet the writer Jorge Luis Borges. In 1957, he graduated in Literature and Philosophy. That same year, he began work at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1960, he was appointed director of the French institute “La France à l’étranger”, which was greeted and visited personally by the former president of France, De Gaule. In 1961-1962, he was appointed advisor to the Minister of Education in Argentina, where he prepared academic programs for the country’s universities…! In 1965, he was awarded the “Gold Medal” by the University of Buenos Aires. In 1965, the members of “Balli” called him to America, after Ali Këlcyra had died in 1963.
At the congress held in New York, the chairman of the “Balli Kombëtar” is elected. In the USA, he wins the French competition and begins work as a professor of philosophy and the French language at the University of New Hampshire (New Hampshire). In 1966, at the Ministry of Education in Washington D.C., he unified the diplomas he had received in Argentina. Between 1966 and 1968, he was appointed head of department at the University of New Hampshire. In the academic year 1968-’69, he works as a professor of Spanish literature, French, and general director of the Department of Foreign Languages at Barat College-Lake Forest, Illinois. The next academic year, 1969-’70, he was appointed professor of French literature at St. Joseph College, Indiana, USA. He works as a chair at Indiana University, where he programmed and directed the courses of 59 philosophy professors.
He retired in 1980, but remained active, holding the chair of philosophy at Illinois State University, where he had been appointed since 1979. In 1979, he was named the 87th professorial chair at the University of Illinois. . On December 29, 1990, he resigned due to age and health reasons.
Published works of Prof. Isuf Luzaj:
In 1946, he completed the book: “Bankrupt Ideology as a Materialist Interpretation of History”, published by the Gregorian University in Rome. He was a collaborator of the magazines “Mbrojtja Kombëtarë” and “Besa”, which were published in Kosovo. In 1954, published the socio-philosophical political novel against communism “Rivers flow red”, in Spanish (original title Los Rios Bajan Rojos), “Ultramar” Publishing House. In 1965, he published “Methodology for philosophy studies” which was used for secondary schools. Between the years 1963-’90, he published articles in almost all American newspapers on the philosophy of the History of Marxism in theory and practice. 10 books have been published during the last 15 years in Albania.
Isuf Luzaj has received the title “Professor emeritus” in the USA, a decoration that bears the note: “Professor of America” and which was handed to him by President Ronald Reagan himself, because he had taught at American universities: Harvard, Columbia, Vox Hampshire, Indiana, Illinois, etc. In 1990, the University of Illinois presented him with the medal: “For outstanding academic services”. This ceremony was attended by the then president of the USA, George H.W. Bush, Governor of the State of Illinois and Secretary of Education. In December 1990, the Association of Journalists of America gives him the “Medal of Honor” for: 94 articles published in “Edistenology of Historical Materialism”.
In Albania, he was decorated with the Order of Work, in the framework of the 100th anniversary of Independence, in 2012. While the 100th anniversary of his birth, which was in 2013, was not even commemorated.
A project near the internment hut!
Dalan Luzaj, along with the project for a pilgrimage to the “Internment Hut”, has also brought 12 philosophical volumes, under the title: “Care for the Bees”, by Prof. Isuf Luzaj. He has called on a group of academics and researchers to present the entire column of this world-class philosopher…!
After being buried in his hometown, Kanina, according to his will (died November 25, 2000 in Chicago), the publication of this column will be the implementation of another important bequest for our nation.
Appreciated by the greatest personalities in Italy, France, Argentina, America, I believe that even in the country of his birth he will receive the full and deserved appreciation. This is in honor of the Academy, the presidency, the entire Albanian-speaking people inside and outside the geographical map. Memorie.al
From Dalan Luzaj
THE INTERNATION HUTT
The rain stripped the mud off the walls of the hut,
Parallel perches, like our ribs, pentagram,
The wood that connected the perches in the middle,
Like a solfege stuck in my soul I still have it.
Parallels entered at their own pace,
Far away were the roars, slowly approaching
The pentagram, the raindrops, the hardest notes,
The melodrama of fatal hell was being composed.
Water to the ribs, water and from above,
Children in the middle, we about,
A cloud of darkness came out,
On my own, we step on the mud in the middle.
Fate chose me, what else would I choose,
Internment remained locked, without explanation,
I would throw a hundred hells to the soul,
In that I found the fault that chose my fate.
When it thunders, even today I feel fear,
Do not flood the water, the ribs, in the hut.
Stop, midnight! I’m in America
O scorching dream and here you brought me?
Sometimes I go to Sherishte, sometimes I come to Oak Parke,
Cracking the ribs, rotting, digesting,
Crouched in agony, melts little by little,
Internment and the hut, together we have to die.
Citizen in soul, I have the sea in my genes,
This place healed my wounds,
Wounded, my longing comes and finds you,
King in America, slave in Motherland.