From Shpendi Topallaj
The unknown story of Enver Hoxha who, after calling Manush Mufti and his son Agimi for lunch, then made them listens to Bashkim Shehu’s depositions to the investigator on a tape recorder, from which Manush suffered a heart attack, while his son, Agimi, suffered a depression deep that took his life”!
Memorie.al / Just when we all thought that the fury of the great Leader had somehow subsided after all those plenums that terrified even babies in the mother’s womb, and he was fed up with the blood of his comrades, that tragedy happened that shook the whole country; The longest serving prime minister killed himself. It was the end of 1981. Ismail Kadareja, with his wisdom and sense of smell, gave a short answer to my brother Spartak’s question in a low voice, whether he was killed or was he killed: “They killed him by suicide.” And then he added that from now on you will see what will happen. They were friends and talked casually.
And the reprisals began: who was from his province, who had shown sympathy for him, who had hosted him with a lunch or dinner, who had promoted him to a position, to whom he had become a god, when he had erred in the line, who had he led with studies abroad, to whom he had wished his birthday with a postcard, whom he praised in the works he had started to publish, to whom he had spoken out and said in a meeting that; he had been brave during the war or, who among the leaders of the Brigade he had commanded, had been promoted to general, from now on he would find a hole to fit into.
And not only the ordinary people did not whistle, but even those up there, right next to the Leader, who until now had escaped peacefully, did not dare to come forward. They knew his anger well. Even, at most, they became his accomplices in those crimes. This was an interesting topic of the traitorous Prime Minister, so every time Spartak would meet with Ismail, the conversation would definitely be there. One day, while they were going to the “Arbëria” hotel to drink the afternoon coffee, Spartak told him that; to the four-part show on our Radio-Television, after the publication of the pamphlet “Titiste”, by Enver Hoxha, the Yugoslav Radio-Television responded with a similar show, but with four parts, where among the many guests who had known this tone well and closely, the main one was Svetozar Vukmanovic Tempo, who made public the authentic letter that Enver had sent to Marshal Tito, where he asked for the union of Albania with Yugoslavia.
And after mentioning the long list of “agents”, he stopped at Mehmet Shehu, as the first in the ranks of agents and Enveri, as the last in the list of vigilantes! Kadareja put his lips on the gas and only added: “Beautiful”! Then, after they had taken a seat at a table, Ismaili opened the conversation again, telling him what he had heard from Agimi. Here, I will tell you this story now, following this article.
The one who, after that possible mistake, was more afraid was the deputy of the Prime Minister, Manush Muftiu, quite knowledgeable and once the Minister of Education and Culture. And he had reason to be afraid: he came from a rich family from Vlonia, and despite the fact that he had squandered his wealth for the anti-fascist war, and had fought manfully, he was still viewed with some suspicion, because of his origin. This was the Party of the proletarians, and he knew how those who came from the ranks of the bourgeoisie ended up.
That’s good, but he could easily be accused of being gullible, since he had been so close to the Prime Minister and had not revealed anything. This was unforgivable. True, when the proletarian Tuk Jakova was punished, he had reported Bedri Spahiu, to the Commander, that he was not aware of Tuk’s mistakes and had not spoken, so he had shown clear signs of loyalty, but this was now forgotten. To make matters worse, he also headed the State Commission for Deportation and Internment, and who knows what the Great One was up to, as he did to the Minister of the Interior (Kadri Hazbiu), who himself had ordered him for all his crimes and deeds and now here billed him.
Together with some others, they were “rewarded” with a bullet to the head. And above all, with the brand of the enemy and the exile or imprisonment of the children, almost all of whom were married, separated and divorced from their husbands or wives. It was unbearable to enter his mouth. You could do as much self-criticism as you wanted, but he wanted to know.
He came forward with the “benevolent” order: “Deep down, go down! Open to the Party! That she will not cut off your head”. And now, the Deputy Prime Minister and the old member of the Political Bureau came to the office, but he went in vain. He didn’t even feel like working. He didn’t go around, who the hell knows; someone remembered and brought a letter to come and explain it later.
He used to sneak that exact eye (that the other one was wounded in the war), over there from the window and see from the Commander’s office across the boulevard. “You did us well, you say, as long as we donkeys of Narta trusted you.” But that’s all. He didn’t talk to anyone. Not even with his wife and children. And especially with Dawn. That he knew very well, that he had a lot of reserves and he was talking a lot.
Let him be friends with that revisionist writer, Kadare. Where he loved communism. Why do we know? What did we do, until the mind of that great man was full? Then it was mentioned: leave Kadare, you see your situation now. You’ve got your work cut out for you, poor man. He waited for the official schedule to end and go home, where he felt safer, but the clock never ticked.
Even with breath as if it was not filled well those times. He approached the curtain again and again and did not take his eyes off that office on the third floor, opposite. How did the thunderbolt not notice that it is taking us by the neck? Now… not that we were such good men, but we didn’t have tricks on him. Matufi. He did not ask about his brother-in-law, who himself said that; he was filling my pockets with money, and he was thinking about the rest of us.
Do you not admit yourself that I am Stalin’s student? What kind of student did you get? This one, with his intrigues, would be Stalin’s teacher. His eyes rested on the clock and on the window. But he remembered that from there he could see in vain, since the Commander almost never came to the office at all. More sick Satan. But he was not dying. There, at that villa, you see those dreams with opponents.
It is not for nothing that Cicero says “Let them hate me, but fear me”. What about Cicero? You say Caesar, and Pompey yes. The end would go to Nero. Let the temptation from power be the same. Who said it: “O power with a look from Medusa”. Cvajgu seems to me, when he talks about Fushena. It depicted the Commander’s wife with the serpentine hair of Gorgiu’s mortal daughter. Isn’t it the heartlessness that drives him towards Shakespearean tragedies?
Lady Macbeth? The one who sought the glory of the Queen and pushed her husband to the monstrous crime. And then whoever violates, will be violated. After all, wasn’t it written on the front of the “Globus” theater, where Shakespeare was a co-owner, “The whole world is a theater”? These same Marxist kings continue to abuse us without a thorn. It is not for me to speak. Others call me the same as them. We got into a macabre dance, I understand, but it’s late.
Now even if we repent, no one believes us. But at least let’s not suffer from each other. That this is more serious and more shameful. When he didn’t wait, the phone rang. He picked up the receiver and spoke in an authoritative voice: “Order! Who speaks”? He stopped when he heard: “Sulua, I’m Manush’s friend”. The crack is gone. He was escorted and adjusted his voice: “How is the Commander?”
The other answered in an undefined tone: “The commander is fine, but a little upset that you are not coming to see him.” Manushi perked up: “Yes, you know… We didn’t want to disturb him because he was quite busy these days. That’s why we left him alone.” “No, he is not calm at all, now that he needs your presence the most. That you, from Pritje’s house, haven’t been seen either.” “True, but we’ll come because it doesn’t work in the afternoons.”
“No, you come in the afternoons, but he has invited you for lunch tomorrow.” Manushi was happy: “Of course friend Sulo. With pleasure. At what time”? “Yes, at two o’clock.” “Thank you, friend Sulo! Thank the Commander from the bottom of my heart.” “Don’t worry at all. Yes, I must have forgotten; he ordered me to tell you to take Agim, your son, with you. Because you know that the Commander loves him very much”. What about this? Yes, he did not have time to find the reason for this love. “We will be there, before the two.” “I was waiting at the door. I will order the service officer tonight. Goodbye and don’t forget Dawn”! When, with a sense of restrained excitement, he told this to his son, Dawn, he made a “Psss” and twisted his lips. He hardly slept at all that night. Where his mind was not flying. However, she wanted to believe that the Commander still loved her.
He had doubted it in vain. That he was not like the others. Little was left from the time of the War. And he could not reject them all, what would be the point. In the morning, before leaving for the Prime Minister, he ordered his son to return quickly from work and be ready there from one o’clock. He, as if through his teeth, only said: “Okay, okay” and left. He, himself, put on that gray suit that suited him very well and he rarely wore it, only for the 1st of May, and after taking the bag, he headed for the car that was waiting for him down the stairs. When he entered the corridor of that building that shone with marble and purity, everyone who saw him noticed how happy he was. He returned the greeting to those he encountered and just like that he entered the office.
“I fell on his neck in vain, he said to himself, with that Shakespeare. But in the end, didn’t they question Shakespeare himself, at the end of the 19th century? No, he wrote the plays, not him. Not Francis Bacon, not Christopher Marlowe. It was even argued that his works were written by Elizabeth, the Queen herself. Queen Nexhmije will fix this at the Institute where she is the director”.
After dealing with some routine problems and signing some papers, he left a couple of orders and left early for home. Dawn was waiting for him dressed in a freshly ironed suit and freshly polished shoes that shone. They started on foot, since their house was not far from the Commander’s villa. Ten minutes before they appeared at the main door and the service officer escorted them further, where Sulua was waiting for them. He was cordial with both of them and headed for the second floor. They entered the waiting room and made themselves comfortable in the heavy armchairs.
It wasn’t long before Nexhmija appeared at the door wearing a suit that was close to her body and behind her the Commander who seemed to be dragging her trouser legs. They shook hands, hugged and after asking about his health, Enveri spoke first: “Where have you been, Manush?” The party is going through difficult situations, but together, always in complete unity, we will win this time as well. Mehmet Shehu, the people and the Party showed their place to the enemy. In other words, in our history, he will remain the biggest traitor, and together with him, those who followed him, keeping him, will be kicked out once and for all. That the coup elements operate secretly, but we always remain silent.” Manushi listened and occasionally nodded in approval.
The son was impatiently waiting for this scene to end, which really didn’t take long, as a woman in a white apron appeared at the door and announced in a low voice that lunch is ready. The table was beautifully laid and the lunch started with a few toasts, the first of which was for friend Enver, but he himself intervened: “We have a strong party. May she live for the good of Albania, friend Manush”. Then the Commander, seemingly a father, addressed Sulo: “Sulo! Play some music from those of Xhevdet Avdalli because we miss him. Even Manushi likes these songs very much. Then that “Te rapi in Maskullore”.
The conversation under the sound of music and the effect of summer, as if it was coming alive, jumping from branch to branch, but still revolved around agriculture, the rains that were not falling, herds, industry, the lack of imported raw materials, the treachery of the Chinese, that were being done by the Soviet Union and the United States of America, the fortifications, the visit of Strauss that you tricked us into, the international communist movement, the new Marxist-Leninist parties, etc.
Somewhat tired, the Commander, a little stooped, got up saying that he would wash his hands, as is the old custom after bread. Then he was followed by his wife who took him by the arm. When they were left alone with Sulo, the music stopped and after a few seconds an icy voice with a metallic timbre is heard: “We are giving the full depositions to the investigator before the prosecutor, of the enemy, Bashkim Mehmet Shehu.”
For a moment, father and son felt a state of anxiety and out of the corner of their eyes; they looked at each other, as if to say: “What is this?” Further from the tape recorder was heard:
-“When and by whom did you, the defendant, join the structured hostile group”?
– “In this group, I cannot give any exact date, since my entry into it came step by step, as if without realizing it.”
– “But how do we understand that scale – scale”?
– “Yes, how can I say it…! In our family, that’s how we talked, sometimes with insinuations, and later growing up, the conversations became more serious.”
– “When they became, as you tell us, more seriously, what was your role in this organization?” Let’s go ahead; we want to know its members”.
– “You now know them. I have nothing to add to what my mother mentioned”.
– “Okay, but you can know something more. The word comes, what were your relations with Ismail Kadare?
– “Nothing. Literary reports. I was a writer and I had the honor to associate with such a distinguished man as he had become famous”!
– “Well, that’s another thing. Can you tell us that; what was the ultimate goal of your hostile organization and what was your role in it”?
– “I believe the goal was achieved; to annihilate the leader, Comrade Enver…”! – “Rest, enemy. Comrade Enver also shamelessly told me, pale. You want the bullet in your mouth, but what to do with the laws of the dictatorship that they are so humane and democratic”!
– “But why are they like that, we are here Mr. Prosecutor.” “- Leave the ironies, boy. Don’t tell us why you are here. Here, you are here because you sought the overthrow of popular power. Now answer the question I asked you.”
– “For my role”?
– “Yes, but before that, what did you intend to achieve”?
– “You said that yourself; killing the Commander and then taking power from my father, in cooperation with the imperialist and revisionist forces”.
– “That’s right! And what tasks were assigned to you?
– “I didn’t have many tasks. Only to deal with the problems of culture and propaganda, i.e. to connect and talk with unstable and influential people, possibly to attract them to the organization”.
– “Stay here! Who were these unstable elements? Where did they come from? From the overturned classes or from our ranks”?
– “Yes, how can I say it?” From the flipped classes, I don’t know… that they hardly believed me. But I had some of my friends.”
– “Like what? That you admitted to the investigator”.
– “For example… that you would also have admitted to the investigator: Agim Muftiu…”!
– “Speak clearly, because this is how things are in the people’s court. Whose was this Dawn”?
– “Agim Manush Muftiu, Spartak Kiço Ngjela and Vera Sadik Bekteshi”.
– “What were you talking about with these people”?!
– “What was I talking about?! Not isolation, not lack of freedom, political prisons. Punishments to instill fear in the people. Who’s turn now? Then the music, the movies, the youth there, our limitations and so on”.
– “Were these considered by you as; members of this hostile group”?
– “Not yet, but they were heading towards that road”.
– “Which road? That of the annihilation of the Party and our Commander”?!
“I don’t know what to say…”!
Then nothing was heard, after Sulua intervened and, pressing a button, closed the tape recorder. There was silence. Manushi covered the wounded eye, while his son drowned in cold sweat. No one spoke. Only Sulua felt safe. Turning to Manush, who had completely lost his temper, he said: “- What are you still waiting for, friend Manush”?
Manushi, it was mentioned: “Yes, let the Commander come”!
– Yes, “The commander has been sleeping for half an hour.”
It was as if Manushi’s heart dropped. He gestured to his son and did not see the door he came out of. Sulua escorted them to the bottom of the stairs as if nothing had happened. They didn’t turn their heads back; for fear that he and Nexhmija would stare at them from the balcony, satisfied.
Such was this world that; Shakespeare rightly called it a great theater. But Kadarea, after having heard this story, took it further, to Aeschylus of Eleusis, a full twenty-five centuries ago, until he had repeated the words that Prometheus had said to Hermes:
“I’ll say it openly: all you Gods / of the sky, I hate you”! From that day Agimi almost never left the house. Word got out that he had suffered a nervous breakdown. That was his role in this theater, as absurd as it was macabre. Memorie.al