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.
Continues from the previous issue
That evening Robert hardly slept at all. Various thoughts swirled around in his mind. Electrical engineer who worked hard and never even mentioned it. Ten years in prison, done under such difficult conditions. Accused by his friends of being a spy. The woman and the girl died under unclear circumstances. Well, all this had a reason that Robert could not answer.
One day while they were drinking coffee, he said to her:
– Agron, get closer to the people. Look at me. Don’t look like someone who has never had trouble. I have been in prison too. I too have faced the troubles of life. After I was released, I married a girl we fell in love with. A son was also born to me. But my wife abandoned me, forgot about love, taking with her the son, whom I haven’t seen for several years.
They live somewhere in a corner of the country, in a city that I don’t even know the name of. My heart aches for this. However, I did not give up. I remarried and now have two children, a daughter and a son. Besimi mentioned to me the words you had said to her in the camp: “Life comes only once and you have to know how to save it”. Now, if I repeat these words to you, because I know you need them. Martou and live your life.
Agron seemed to be warmed by these words. Created the belief that he was dealing with a true friend. With a friend, to whom he could trust everything. But again, he did not dare. Courage had flown from him. After thinking a little, he said:
– If only I had such strength! And where to find it? Who is that man who will give me that strength? Hard, very hard to find such a man. I have the evil inside me, in my conscience. Maybe someday he can tell. My life is only the grave.
They didn’t talk anymore. Each went about his business, thinking about what they had said. From that day they became closer to each other. They talked about various things. They started exchanging family visits. Robert’s children seemed to calm Agron down. As soon as they saw him, they jumped at him screaming.
– Uncle Goni, uncle Goni!
He lifted them up in his arms, saying:
– Grab the sky. He is yours.
In those moments he remembered Irida. He did that to her too when she was little. Robert was waiting day by day for Agron to tell him his secret. But that wasn’t happening. However, he had the patience to wait.
Mother Gjyla, she had not been feeling well for several days. There was a marked weakness. His blood pressure was very low. He tried to stand up and do some work, but he got tired quickly and had to sit down. He didn’t say anything to his son. He didn’t want to disturb her. But one day he felt dizzy and almost collapsed. He went and lay down on the bed. In the evening, when Agroni returned and saw his mother lying in bed, he was worried and said:
– Mother, why are you lying down so early?
– The end has come, my son.
– Don’t let yourself go, mother. You are strong. You have given me strength too.
– I am strong, son…! But I am eighty years old and at this age one must prepare for everything…! I’ve had a hard life, just like you. But I knew how to face it…! I leave this order to you too. Don’t think about death. Come what may, life is beautiful and worth living. Enjoy it. This is my legacy that I want to leave…!
After a few hours, she closed her eyes, so calm, without disturbing anyone. Agron went to a ghetto who had a phone and called Robert. There was no one else to report. He came with his wife. She arranged mother Gjylon as she should. Then Roberti went to the post office and called Skenderi by phone.
They buried him the next day. There were no more than forty people at the funeral, most of them comrades from the brigade, with the exception of Ylli. Astrit didn’t come either. He was afraid that he would be fired. Among them Skenderi, Besimi and Syrjau. The body of the deceased was placed next to Irida and Lumto. When the ceremony ended, Agron knelt down and looked at the plaque, where the photos of his wife and daughter were placed. Tears began to flow from his eyes. They looked at him through the pictures and seemed to say to him:
– Come on, Agron. See? We became three, and you are alone.
Roberti let him go and then putting his arm into him said:
– Let’s go now.
They left that sad place.
In the evening, only Agroni, Skenderi, Syrjau, Roberti and Besimi were left. As the oldest, it was Syrjau’s responsibility to carry them with courage.
– We also escorted Gjylon, boys, – he said.
– Who’s turn now? Agron asked.
– Of course, the elders, – continued Syrjau. – Listen, guys. Man must be strong. You have to master yourself in every situation. Once upon a time a brave man’s only son died. The whole town attended the funeral. Everyone comforted him: – Live by yourself! – and he answered – Hello friends! – Do you understand the importance of these words? The brave put his friends in a line with the only son. This is the motive that should guide people.
– Where can I find my friends? They have left me like the devil from Tehmjan, as if I had leprosy?
– Aren’t we your friends? – Syrjau spoke.
– We will always be your friends, – Robert intervened right then and there
– As always, – completed Besimi.
– Thank you.
Skenderi intervened in the conversation:
– Long live, friends. We are getting to know each other today. But I am calm that in you I have found my true friends my brother. He needs exactly such friends.
– We will always be by his side, – assured Robert.
– Agroni is right about one thing, – Syrjau intervened. – We live in a difficult situation. But let’s get back to our wounds. Agron, I’m sorry to say it. Maybe tonight is not the case, but I will say it. Don’t make my mistake. Martou and start a new life.
– My only marriage is the grave.
– No, Agron, – Robert intervened. – loneliness is not the path that man should follow.
– Good luck, – said Skenderi. – You spoke as a true friend.
– Where to find that strength? Agron asked. – Who is that man who will give me the strength to overcome loneliness?
– We will give it, – intervened Besimi. – You are our friend and we want you to become like us.
– Why didn’t Astri come? – Agroni changed the conversation.
– You know, he is responsible for the sector and his arrival could cause him to lose his job. – answered Robert – However, he ordered me to convey his condolences to you.
– Yes, Ylli. Even my mother’s death didn’t break it?
– You know Ylli very well. But don’t worry. The time will come when he will realize the mistake he has made. Time softens hearts.
– Get up guys, let’s go, – said Syrjau – Let’s leave the brothers in their world. See you tomorrow!
They met each other and left. Agron was left alone with Skenderi. The two brothers had a lot to talk about between them. It had been more than ten years since they had met. Skenderi was a company director, while Agroni was a simple worker, a former political convict. A phenomenon that, although it was not the only one, was a case that could be called special. There were few cases when a person could exercise the office of director, at a time when his brother was a former political prisoner. The regime did not accept such a discrepancy. Only those above knew why…!
But this also happened because of the created circumstances. Skender was completely cut off from his brother. He had universally denied it. He had not even dared to attend the burial of his wife and daughter ten years ago. There was no brother in his biography. He was extinguished with his arrest. But the death of his mother had forced him to come to his house. E the feeling of blood had called.
– Why did you come right now? Agron asked him
– Because I am her son, – he answered
– You remembered too late. Weren’t you Rida’s uncle and Lumto’s brother-in-law? Why didn’t you come for them, but let only a poor old woman face the waves of life? Why did you leave me? For eleven years you didn’t even write me a letter. You say you are her son. She doesn’t listen to you anymore.
– We heard Agro. What I am about to tell you is not hypocrisy. I am speaking with my heart in my hand. We are brothers, but we are not the same. I’m not like you. I envy him for that. You are strong. You faced all the difficulties and misfortunes that came your way. While I showed myself weak, as if I were not of the same dough as you. I don’t know if you will forgive me, but I am who I am, the “new man” of socialism, the servile and weak man, the man without personality who is forced to act as a mannequin in the hands of others.
– Will you continue like this from now on?
– I have no other way. I entered this dance and I can’t get out. You were created to fly like a free bird, while I was created to crawl like a worm in my mud.
Agron listened to him with his head down and said to himself:
“Is he being servile and hypocritical with me too”?
– Brother, how can you not find the strength to break away from this situation?
– I can’t, It’s the first time I speak without a mask.
– Drop that mask. You will see that you will breathe freely.
– Agron, don’t ask me any longer.
They ended the conversation. They did not continue. The next day in the morning he left for the capital, while Agron remained in his solitude. When they were parting, at the door of the house, Skender wanted to hug his brother, but he froze in front of a dry log. Agron’s coldness made him think.
The days flowed one after the other and with them the months and years. Two years had passed since the day Agron met Robert. They had already formed a real society. They met every day, sometimes at one’s house and sometimes at the others. Of course, the meetings took place more at Agron’s house, because there they were freer to talk, since no one bothered them. Usually, the conversations were more about literature, which they both loved. Agroni said that when he finished high school, he had asked to study literature, but they had given him the right to study electrical engineering, while Robert had not deserved to be granted the right to study.
At home, Agron had a very rich manor. His mother was able to save the books, hiding them under the floorboards, during the ten years he was in prison. There you can find books in the Albanian language, as well as in several other languages, especially in English. Among them, you can find everything from “Prometheus bound” by Aeschylus to “Year 93” by Hugo, from the four volumes of “War and Peace” by Tolstoy, to the famous tragedies of Shakespeare, from the works of Dickens to “Three friends” of Remark.
There you can also find Albanian literature from Naim’s “Skënderbeu’s History” to Noli’s “Album”, from Migjeni’s “Free Verses”, to Foqion Postoli’s “For the Defense of the Fatherland”, from “The Last City” ” by Petro Markos, in Kadare’s novels. Books in foreign languages continued to remain under the floor. He was afraid to take them out, because he was protected from any sudden control by the State Security.
Among these books, you will find works that at that time were not available in the market, but that he had secured through his company. This included the works of Niche, Freud, Konica, Fishta, Lumo Skëndos and others. It was a real library, inside which you felt a great pleasure in those gloomy times.
Thus, the two friends would gather there and discuss for hours on the topics of these books. After discussing the values, they went into the thoughts related to the actuality, to the state in which the country was located, to the lack of expression of free will. They had believed that with the death of the dictator, something would change in the country, but soon this illusion was extinguished. His successor was following the same path.
– We live in a world of absurdity, – Agroni said one day. – Everywhere we are surrounded by a multitude of chameleons, who do not stop changing their color according to the appetite of the rulers. These are the so-called ‘new people’ created by the system to maintain its positions, which have begun to waver. These are the worst spawn of this system. I feel sick when I am forced to meet or greet them. Do you know what Nicja said?
“Socialism, as the final tyranny of the smallest and stupidest, that is, of the superficial, the squeamish, and the five-money comedians, is in reality the consequence of modern ideas and their unmanifested anarchy.”
This sentence is characteristic of today’s Albanian society.
– Do you think it will continue for a long time?
– I do not know. Something has started to move. Eastern Europe has shown signs that this may soon change. But we continue with the old spirit. Strauss came three times and left disappointed three times. Albania did not know how to take advantage of the created chance.
– What do you think, will we be able to see the country free?
– You certainly do, while I don’t know if I will have that luck. I have been feeling very weak for some time. I want to lie down and dream. When I move, I get tired quickly? All this makes me think that I won’t have it long.
– Did you start from fairy tales? You went through the steps of hell and give up now that you have overcome them. Where is that strength that kept you alive in those years?
Agron did not answer. Even Robert ended the conversation when he noticed that she took an undesirable path. He sat a little longer and then left.
– See you tomorrow at work, – he said.
They were working on plastering a warehouse. Within these two years, with the help of Robert and Astrit, he had been able to win two categories as a mason and now he had the third category. Roberti had gone to the sector offices to close the month’s bills with Astrit. When he returned, he did not find Agron. His friends told him that he had not felt well and had gone home. I was worried. He remembered the conversation he had the night before. He immediately went to his house and found him in bed.
– Get up, let’s go to the doctor.
– No, no, I have nothing. I just have weaknesses. I will rest and it will pass. I will be back at work tomorrow.
Robert persisted and finally convinced him. They went to the polyambulance. Doctor Arqilea, an old friend of Agron, carefully visited him.
– The analyzes must be done, – he said, giving a report for three days off.
The next day he did the tests. He received the answer in the afternoon. Doctor Arqilea had finished his service schedule. So, he got the answer the next day. As soon as he saw them, the doctor’s face paled.
– How did they get out? Agron asked.
– We must repeat the analyses.
– I want to make sure that no mistake has been made. This time you will do it in the hospital.
Agron took the test sheet and went to the hospital. He read it. In one corner, the doctor had written “urgent”. All the way he wondered why the doctor had repeated the tests. Why did he write urgently? Maybe he was suffering from some serious illness and the doctor found it difficult to tell him?
– Why did you bother? – said the laboratory doctor.
– Dr. Arqilea sent me to do these tests.
The doctor read the analysis sheet and said:
– You must come tomorrow morning, as you must be sober.
The next day he went in the morning. The laboratory opened at eight o’clock. He had to wait. Until the hour came, he decided to take a walk in the hospital flower garden. Passing by, he came face to face with Robert and Syrjau, who were coming towards him.
– You got it, son, did you do the tests? – asked Syrjau.
– The laboratory still opens at eight o’clock.
– Let’s go in here and have a coffee.
– No, because the doctor advised me that I should be sober.
They sat on a bench and were talking. Robert did not like it when he found out that the doctor had repeated the tests. But he didn’t give himself up. Meanwhile, it was past eight o’clock. They went to the laboratory and Agroni did the tests. He received the answer after two hours.
– How did they turn out, doctor? – he asked.
– Dr. Arqiles explained. He is the specialist in this matter.
At the polyambulance, as soon as Dr. Arqilea saw him, he put him in the room. Roberti and Syrjau were excluded. The doctor saw the answer and said to the nurse:
– Go outside for two minutes, please.
She came out.
– You need to go to Tirana urgently, – he said in a voice that seemed to be barely coming out – You need a more detailed examination. Memorie.al
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