By Reshat Kripa
– “People who have never known dictatorship and tyranny find it easy to give in to the rhetoric about freedom, forgetting the simple and terrible reality of willful oppression where it always exists”.
Giovani Sartori: “Once again for the theory of democracy”.
Memorie.al/ Robert Krasta, had made it a habit that on every anniversary of his parents, he would go to the cemetery and place a bunch of flowers on their grave. He would look at the picture stamped on the porcelain and start a conversation with them. He had been doing this habit for a long time. The conversation seemed to soothe his soul. He told them about everything that had happened in the family. Sometimes, when he found difficulty in something, he asked them for help, and it seemed to him that they answered him. Perhaps this could be some guess of his own, yet he believed it.
On that day, all employees of the enterprise were notified of an important meeting, where representatives of the Department of Internal Affairs would also participate. There was talk of unmasking some unwanted persons. The meeting was scheduled for nine o’clock, but people began to gather earlier. Almost none had started work. Curiosity drove them to come and take an interest. Everyone thought something was going to happen. Unmasking or maybe something else. Those who had a mole in their biography were afraid of being the next victim.
Among them, Stefani and Gjergji. They hadn’t felt at ease for more than a month. After the arrest of Agron, they also waited from moment to moment for their arrest.
– It seems to me that the end has come, – Gjergji said in shock.
– Don’t let yourself go. Whatever happens, behave like a man. Only in this way will we be able to face it.
Half an hour ago, the hall was full and full. People were discussing in low voices. Finally, a car noise was heard and after it, the secretary of the party, the director, the chairman of the Committee of Professional Unions, the other heads of the enterprise, Demiri with Ilian and Agroni entered the hall, accompanied by several policemen. People started whispering to each other. Someone expressed regret to the friend next to him. The engineer had been a correct person in his relations with others. This they could not forget. But there were also those who had forgotten his behavior. They had become scheming and servile, ready to throw mountains of mud at the unfortunate one.
– I was expecting death, but for chief engineer Agroni to come to the dock, I couldn’t think of it, – said a worker in a low voice, to the friend next to him.
– Eh, take a friend! You don’t know what the minute brings, the hour doesn’t, he replied in a low voice.
– You are wiser; do you really believe that he has cheated? – continued the first.
– I don’t know, but you better not talk. Just listen. Did you know that walls also have ears? – answered his friend.
– Good, my friend, good. – ended the conversation first.
At this time, the party secretary stood up and everyone was silent. There was complete silence in the hall.
– Friends and friends! – began the secretary of the party. – Today we have gathered to listen to the report of the representative of the Department of Internal Affairs, Comrade Demir Kapedani, on the hostile activity of the former employee of our company, the defendant Agron Canaj, who is now in the dock, as well as the associates of his. After his report, he invites all participants to express their opinions openly and without fear. Now let me give the floor to Comrade Demir.
– Did you hear that? He also told his colleagues; – Gjergji spoke in a low voice.
– Rest and listen! Stefan answered.
George did not speak again. In the middle of the deep silence that had covered the hall, Demiri started reading the minutes that Agroni had previously signed. The charges were among the most serious that could be imagined. According to them, he admitted that they had created a subversive group, with which they would try to blow up the new turbine, which would be installed in the hydropower plant. In their plans was also the development of terrorist acts, to arouse panic in the ranks of the population. All this was done according to the instructions they had received from the Soviet KGB and the American CIA, in whose service he had been placed since he was a student in Sofia.
From time to time, Demiri skipped the phrase. It was understood that in those places were the names denounced by Agron. People were curious to know who they were. Agron listened and thought to himself, how he could have signed such a shameful statement. The scene with Lumto and Irida appeared in front of his eyes and he understood the cause of it all. He could stand up and declare that it was all his own making, but the idea that that scene could happen again at any moment horrified him. He stood like a silent mummy, listening to the nonsense that came out of the interrogator’s mouth. Demir’s voice mentioned this situation and said:
– Are these true?
Agron’s voice remained in his throat. He tried to speak but couldn’t. He was in the state of the guilty, that although he understands the fault he has committed, he is unable to react; meanwhile, Demir turned to him and asked him again in a tone that only he knew how to use:
– So what do you think?
Agron looked at the waiting room in silence and finally managed to say in a half-faded voice:
– Louder so that everyone can hear it.
– Yes, – Agroni repeated, this time in a louder voice.
A roar filled the hall. People started whispering to each other, some softly and some loudly.
– More, he was a veiled snake, – someone said, – and we considered him an honest man. We did not hold the snake in our bosom.
– We held a snake, which could bite us from moment to moment, – spoke another one from the end.
– Comrade Demir, you have read us enough. Take him and punish him as soon as possible, – jumped a man with a mustache.
– The bakers who forgot the bread of the party, the traitors who were sold to foreigners for low interests, deserve the most severe punishment; – he raised his voice, waving his finger threateningly in a corner.
A series of accusations and insults continued from the lowest. Someone came up and spat in his face. Another, with a strong voice, uttered the most severe curses:
– Comrade Demir, you have read us enough that we have them as clear as sunlight. Tell us who are his associates?
Meanwhile, Demiri intervened:
– Wait, we still have something to declare. The defendant thought of doing these actions with his two close friends, Stefan Gjoka and Gjergji Panon, who, as you know, come from declassified families, bringing other people into the dance.
– Who are they?
At this time operative Ilia intervened:
– Stefan Gjoka, Gjergji Pano, Ylli Nivica, Gazmend Shpuza and Pëparim Seferi, on behalf of the people you are under arrest!
A crowd of policemen, standing ready behind them, pounced on them and in the blink of an eye had they handcuffed. Agron stood as if frozen. It hadn’t occurred to him that things could go this far.
– We are innocent; – Stefani’s strong voice was heard. – He lies!
– This is nothing but a farce, – repeated Gjergji who had recovered from the first confusion.
The angry crowd began to react more ferociously.
– Down with the traitors! – spoke one with an irritated voice.
– We are not traitors. – answered Ylli.
– Spies on the rope! – said a second one.
– We are not spies, – Gazmendi replied.
– Down with the collaborators! – roared the voice of a third.
– We are not collaborators, – was the immediate answer of Progress
– Rest! – The voice of one of the guards was heard. – From this moment on, you have no right to speak.
Someone came out, took a stone and wanted to shoot them, but the hand of someone nearby stopped him. Others continued to swear hysterically. There were also those who were silent, shocked and scared. They didn’t feel it, but they didn’t have the courage to object either. The secretary of the party realized that the situation could get out of control, so he said:
– The meeting ended. Everyone get back to work!
The crowd left the hall chanting:
– Punish the masquerades mercilessly!
After a while, the hall filled with cigarette smoke and cigarette butts was emptied. The last ones to come out of it were the defendants, who, accompanied by a crowd of policemen, got into the police car.
The days passed one after the other. Irida continued in almost the same condition. He didn’t make noise, he didn’t scream, he didn’t pull out his hair and therefore, he wasn’t shaved. Only his eyes continued to be confused. Sometimes he played with a big doll, which he held in his hands. From time to time he cried silently. Only the tears could be seen running down her cheeks which had taken on a pale appearance. At that moment, no one wanted to talk to him.
– Doctor how is it? – asked Happiness.
– I don’t know how to say, – he answered. – Her illness is of a special kind. He hardly speaks at all. From time to time it bursts into oil. Let her cry. Maybe crying will bring him to his senses. But the disease has also affected his intellect. We must fight for him to return as soon as possible. This should be talked about constantly. Even when she thinks she is asleep, she spends most of her time in that state. He has this from the medicines. Don’t think that when you sleep, you don’t hear. What was her hobby?
– In fact, she had many passions, – answered Lumturia, – but, however, literature was her hobby. He was constantly reciting verses from great poets. He also liked the theater.
– Then you recite as many of those poems as possible. Try to get him to recite too. Preferably from the ones she preferred. Have an ongoing dialogue about theater and literature. Do not forget!
Lumtua was standing next to her. He had taken leave from the education department and was not going to school. He hugged him, talked to him constantly, told him past stories in the hope that they could bring back his memory, which he had lost. In particular, he talked about his father, reminded him of the birthday party when, together with him, they built the snowman they called Snow White. She listened to him in silence and occasionally said:
– Dad? Where is Dad? Look, its flying. Harpies have kidnapped him. I will fly with him too.
The doctor’s words prompted him to change the way of conversation.
– Rida, are you going to tell mom any of those poems that you recite so beautifully? For example from the rubbers of Omar Khayami. Or have a midwife recite and then you start?
Oh, how much milk her little heart has accumulated! – Happiness said to herself – Who can take it away from him?
Irida stood up a little, looked around in surprise, picked up the doll and hugged it tightly to her bosom.
– Is that Snow White? – asked his mother
– No, it’s me. Snow White was poisoned by the witch.
– But the prince came and woke him up.
– But only dad will wake me up
– Daddy will come soon.
At this time, mother Gjylua entered the room. With her lips on gas, she turned to her granddaughter:
– How did the mother bird wake up?
– The same, – Lumturia told him in a low voice.
– Go now my daughter. This is where I will stay. Come back to dinner.
– The doctor told me that he needs to be talked to constantly. Tell him something, for example a poem, and ask him questions over and over to see how much he can remember.
He turned to the girl and kissing her said:
– Mom is leaving. Here is the grandmother. Goodbye!
Irida did not answer. Bliss looked at him for a few seconds and left with tears in her eyes that never stopped. Mother Gjyla was addressed by her granddaughter:
– Shall I show you something?
– Good. – She answered with indifference.
– Or are you going to tell your mother any of the things you recite so beautifully?
– Shall I recite a monologue?
– Very well, start.
Irida got up and got ready to start, but just then Teuta and Mellania entered. They visited him often. Contrary to before, a good part of her classmates also came to see her. But she hardly knew either. They had disappeared from her memory. The only ones he knew were Lumtua and his grandmother. Every time he looked at them, he started to cry. Deep sobs came from the depths of his chest.
– Why did you punish us in this way, great God? – said mother Gjyla.
But God was silent. He was expelled from the lands of this country. He had forgotten this country that condemned him.
– How are you Rida? – said Teuta.
– Very well, – mother Gjyla intervened – Now she was getting ready to recite something to me.
– Right? Then start.
In a weak voice that seemed to come from the depths of a grave, Irida began to speak:
– Do my arms have the power to fix the world? Can they bring dad back to me?
A stream of tears covered her face.
– Go mother’s daughters, – said mother Gjyla. – Leave me this open grave.
As the New Year holidays were coming to an end, Lumton was told that he had to go back to work or he would lose it. He didn’t know how to do it. If he lost his job, what would they live on? If he went to work, who would he leave his daughter with? Mother Gjyla could not do such a service. She was old and tired of life.
– Listen, Lumto, – said doctor Sotiri. – It is not known how long the girl’s condition will continue. You can’t live without going to work. Go and come back here in the afternoon. As for the girl, don’t worry. We are here. The ward nurse is also very good and caring. Then, she has the disease in peace. You see they didn’t do anything.
In Lumto’s absence, mother Gjyla came from time to time to the girl’s bedside.
One day the nurse said to him:
– A man asks to come
– Put it inside…!
He saw a face he had seen once but could not remember. The waves he had passed had affected his memory.
– You do not know me? – said the man who realized that she did not recognize him. – I am Syrjau.
– Oh, sorry! Troubles have brought me to this state.
– I am very sorry. How did it happen?
– Ah, don’t ask me. I don’t know either. I was told that it was caused to him after seeing his father in that state.
– In the investigator?
– They called them one night together with the bride.
– Despicable! But how is it now?
– Like the river and like the sea.
– What about the boy, what have you heard?
– No one tells you anything. Everything is shrouded in mystery. We only know what happened in the establishment, when they arrested the others. No one approaches us anymore. They are protected from us, as they say, like the devil from incense.
– Be strong. You must also carry the bride.
He reached into the basket he was carrying and pulled out two apples.
– Take it and give it to the girl. There are very few, but that’s the chance I have. Tell him what uncle Syrjau gave him. She doesn’t know me, but I told you.
– Thank you!
Doctor Sotiri entered the room and made the usual visit.
– What does the doctor look like? – asked mother Gjyla.
He did not answer, but shook his head as if to say that it was the same, and went out. Irida stood up and headed for the balcony.
– Where is the mother’s heart going?
– At dad’s. Do you see him flying?
– Good daughter, come sit down and tell your mother what you see.
She sat down and began to cry.
Several days passed like that. Irida was alone in the room. He was happy at school, while mother Gjyla had not yet arrived. The nurse had just left the room after giving him an injection. Irida got up from the bed.
– Dad, are you calling me? Shall we fly together? I’m coming, I’m coming.
He headed to the balcony, opened the gate and went out.
– Come on dad, let’s get it.
A crowd of people gathered in terror under the balcony.
– Girl, goes inside please! – called a nurse.
Someone gave the alarm and they ran to the room. Irida climbed onto the parapet of the balcony shouting:
– Dad, I’m coming. I’m flying, I’m flying!
He opened his arms and launched himself into the void, just as the first nurses appeared on the balcony. A terrible scream was heard and the girl’s body crashed to the ground. The attendants picked him up and carried him to the hall. But it was in vain. The spirit had flown from her body.
Doctor Sotiri undertook a very difficult task. He had to tell Lumto. How to tell him? He went to school.
– Come because the girl is looking for you, – he said.
Surprisingly for the mother, her heart felt the mandate.
– We said, is it over?
Sotiri did not speak. He was thinking how to act. How could he tell him such news?
– We said! – repeated Lumtua all anxiety.
– My condolences!
The blow was heavy. Fell unconscious. The doctor put ammonia on his nose and brought him to his senses. He began to cry with sobs. When they arrived at the hospital, she fell over the girl’s lifeless body. The intervention of doctors mentioned.
In the evening they brought him home. They dressed him in white. They put a crown of colorful flowers on top of it. It looked like the sleeping beauty of the fairy tale. Before long, the room was filled with people. What life could not do, death did. She had brought them back together.
The next day, the burial ceremony took place. The very bitter case had gathered many citizens. Everyone felt sorry for the fifteen-year-old who had tragically ended her life. All the classmates had come, even those who had not gone to the hospital. Lumto’s friends had also come.
The funeral procession left the house. Behind the hearse was a single wreath. It was written:
Dad, mom, grandma.
It was held by Mellania with Teuta. At the exit of the main road, the only bus was waiting. Someone from the large crowd spoke:
– Let’s walk him to the exit of the city.
The procession continued on its way. In front of him walked Lumtua, held by her two friends, Anita and Blerina. In this case, they did not take into account the decision of the party organization. Mother Gjyla was staying at home. They didn’t have anyone else from the family. Skenderi and his wife had not dared to come. People who did not take part in the procession, when he passed by them, they stood ready. Anyone who had a hat removed it and paid respect.
Secretly following the procession, Demiri and Ilia monitored the crowd. They were surprised how so many people could go to the funeral of a girl, of an enemy of the people?! Such a thing enraged him more. But what they could not understand was that the pain was greater than fear and this pain had come out of that fierce class war. She had triumphed over the ferocity of this war.
After passing through the entire city in silence, the procession stopped on its way out. Some of the participants entered the bus. The others turned back. Among them is Syrjau. No one spoke at the cemetery. They covered it in silence. The tears of Lumto and others watered the newly covered grave. Finally, Lumto’s brother thanked on behalf of the family members. A simple, silent, breathless lunch with those closest to me ended this funeral ceremony. Memorie.al