By Reshat Kripa
The fifth part
Memorie.al / “Sometimes, when difficult trials fall on a child’s head from the earliest age in the secret recesses of his soul, a kind of scale is born, a beautiful scale, with which he weighs the affairs of this world. Feeling himself innocent, he submitted to his fate without making a sound. I didn’t cry at all. He who has no reason to be scolded, does not scold others”!
(Viktor Hugo, “The Man Who Laughs”)
Dedicated to family and society,
Continues from last issue
FOR FREEDOM, FOR ALBANIA, FOR THE RED AND BLACK FLAG!
It was a nationalist slogan, which I had read in a tract dropped by foreign planes, which at that time often flew over our sky, accompanied by anti-aircraft strikes, which failed to hit them.
In that solemn moment, I felt my eyes watering. I saw the same thing in those of my friends. They were tears of pain, for what we missed. They were tears for injustices, for lost freedom.
We sat down at the table and started discussing the name of the organization. After many debates, we decided to call it “PATDHETARI”. In order not to recognize the writing, we decided to make the rounded parts of the letters square. Jorgua proposed such a thing. This was a childish fantasy that really, if you compared it to our ordinary writing, they were the same. We also decided to stick the tracts on the walls of the city, as this way they would be read by more people. We also decided, with the proposal of Myrtezai, to have the patriotic song as the anthem of the organization; “O brave warriors”.
Finally, we discussed the text of the first tract. Each expressed different opinions. I proposed that we write a piece taken from a lecture by Noli. They agreed. I sat down and started writing:
For freedom, for Albania, for the red and black flag! Let us attack, under the red flag, in the flames of war, so that our bodies tremble from the intoxication of gunpowder, so that our souls are ignited by the holy fire of freedom, and let us die shouting: LONG LIVE ALBANIA!
We wrote it in three copies. We climbed one to Jorgo’s “Tophanana”, the other to Myrtezai’s “Muradien”, and the third, to “Vrenezi”, mine.
* * *
We met two or three times a week. With unprecedented zeal we wrote tracts and pasted them to the walls in the alleys of the city. If those walls had mouths, they would talk. In my mind, those alleys and squares have remained as they were then. To our surprise, the feeling of fear was gone. We thought that we would continue our activity ineffectively.
We felt as if we were flying high in the sky. We had forgotten what was happening on earth. Age did not allow us to see reality. We believed that with those tracts, we would change the system. We had seen many films of the “New Guard” type, which at that time were often shown, and pushed by them, we thought of becoming like them. We called ourselves heroes.
As the text of the tracts, they served us excerpts from the poems of our poets, such as: Çajupi and Noli. Sometimes we wrote them as they were, sometimes we adapted them to our times, like for example a poem by Çajupi, which we transformed like this:
“Darkness has covered the whole world,
Captivity has aged the motherland.
Widow, oil and misery reign,
Murder and the rope, today they judge.
A mad cow is drinking blood,
An enslaved people seek revenge.
Do not do as you did until yesterday,
Let’s all stand up for the homeland.
Let’s stand up and show bravery,
Let us die, let us live in freedom!
In some of the other tracts it was written:
“Fight for freedom, for the happy life! Do not fear death because:
“Who died for their country,
He’s not dead, but he’s gone!
Down with Stalin and his satellites!
Down with Stalin’s puppy,
the smoker Enver Hoxha!
Down with the satrap Mehmet Shehu”!
“Brothers and sisters!
Awake from the heavy sleep of captivity!
Look at the oppression that is being done to you by the communist barbarians!
Look at the crimes, horrors, murders and terrible tortures that are being done today in every part of Albania!
Your future will be happy, if you stand up and fight”!
A preoccupation for us was the expansion of the organization with new elements. So, we started thinking about future candidacies. Among the most possible, there were three: Luan Koka, Fadil Meçua and Spiro Kokaveshi. We thought we’d start with the latter. We wrote the following letter:
“If you are really an honest patriot and will fight for the liberation of your country, then you should try with all your strength to achieve this issue.
First of all, you must give the first evidence of a loyalty to the sacred cause of the people.
For this you are charged, in case you really want the freedom of Albania, to tear the communist propaganda banners, newspapers in the school, as well as to spread or stick the banners that we are sending you.
If you implement what you are being entrusted by us, you will be able to become a member of our organization, with the name “ATDHETARI”
The organization of city patriots
We posted the letter together with two tracts and were waiting for his reaction, but we didn’t get it. After two days we were arrested.
We had thought of writing to the First Secretary of the Party for Vlora. We even compiled its text: However, after discussing this letter in detail, we decided not to post it. We also decided not to post a letter we had written to the President of the school’s Communist Youth Organization, as well as another letter to a member of the school’s Youth Committee Bureau, with whom we had some resentment.
Busy with our activity, we had begun to fall out of lessons. We often went to school unprepared. Such a thing caught the eye of the teachers. The director of the school, the respected teacher Harilla Koçuli, called us and removed the warning:
– “What is the matter with you?! You are a good student! Why this decline now that the end of the year is approaching?! You will force us to call your parents”?!
He spoke, while we flew in our dreams. I thought it was the director himself, who, with his patriotic lectures, had instilled that feeling in us. I imagined him fervently reciting lines like these:
“If only I had, oh, strength from God!
To kick this whole thing,
And the proud other world, where there were,
Every fulfillment of desire and freedom”!
We were thinking of doing that too. We wanted to contribute to the elimination of injustices. We wanted to contribute to freedom. But did we have the strength?!
However, we promised to turn around. We decided that in order to achieve this, we would deal with our activity only on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. Soon, we achieved the desired results in the lessons.
On May 20, we started the last exams of the year. The first exam was algebra, written, two exercises and one problem. I solved them in record time. We had the next exam, the draft, in five days. May 24, 1951. I got ready to go to George as usual. Father saw me and said:
– “At six o’clock, go to the agency to wait for your aunt.”
– “Okay, dad”!
It was four o’clock. I still had two hours. When I arrived at Jorgua, I found him reading a book.
– “Preparing for tomorrow’s draft”? – I asked her.
– “No, I’m reading in vain”.
– “Surely, one of the topics should be about the establishment of the party. This year is its tenth anniversary”.
– “Yes, for sure”.
– “I will elaborate on the second topic, the literary one”.
– “And me”.
– “Listen, Jorgo; Don’t we write a tract and stick it to the agency”?
He was willing. We wrote the following tract:
“For freedom, for Albania, for the red and black flag”!
Residents of Vlora!
Don’t trust the communists. They lie to you.
Fight for freedom if you want to embrace your husband, your son or your brother, in the near future, in your home, in your native land.
The communists torture and persecute us; They kill the best of us, to scare us, to put us to sleep, but we do not bow to these scoundrels!
Kill these damned cruels! Better death in war than life in slavery!
The homeland is in danger. The “ATDHETARI” tracts will tell you the truth, however bitter it may be, about our Albania. The truth will triumph!
We made two copies of this tract, in order to place it in two places. Then we left for the agency. We thought we’d stick one in there when we got a chance that there wouldn’t be people.
The first bus arrived, but the aunt was not there. She didn’t even come with the second one, which arrived half an hour later. We approached and asked the driver:
– “Is there another bus”?
I never found out why my aunt didn’t come. We waited a little longer, until it got dark, and decided to climb one of the tracts. Jorgua stood guard while I mounted him on the wall. We thought of sticking the second one somewhere else.
We left. When we arrived near Sahat, I saw Neri walking home.
– “Jorgo, I’m going here” – I said to my friend
He, knowing my feeling about him, after we had talked, smiled and kindly told me an expression that I had once read in a novel by Leo Tolstoy:
– “The galloping horses, I know them by their running, for people in love, their eyes speak”.
I put my lip on the gas and broke up with my friend. I was following Neri like a mysterious shadow. My shadow followed her shadow. She walked without noticing me, while I did not dare to speak to her. I walked looking at her silhouette. He entered the house and began to climb the stairs. When he arrived at their resting place, he stood for a moment and was looking at the sky that was shining with stars.
I hid in the shadow cast by a three-story house, and admired its beautiful profile. For a moment I decided to talk to him, to tell him that I love him, that he is a star cut from the sky, to light my way. But my voice didn’t come out. At that moment she entered the house and I was disappointed by my lack of initiative. I left for home depressed…!
When I got there, I told them about my aunt, who had not come. They were worried and sent Agim to make a phone call for tomorrow, to ask Drita. My aunt lived there. I did not stay below, as usual, but went up to the upper room, ostensibly to learn. I thought of the moments I had spent staring at Neri. I could feel her heart beating next to mine. It seemed to me, as if I heard her sweet voice, saying to me:
– “I love you too”!
I had the idea to write a poem dedicated to her. I am not a poet, but that poem would seem to me to be the most beautiful in the world. I had poured my heart into it. I was a fan of Naim’s verse, so I wrote it in sixteen-syllable verse. These verses still ring in my ears:
DEDICATED TO YOU
“Forgive my heart that I don’t dare to say two or three words to you,
It was the promise that I give and will always keep.
Do you hear the voice of the nightingale, singing beautifully in the spring?
You can smell it. the rose, that blooms full of wind.
This is my word; I don’t know if you believe me?
If you believed God, listen to the heart that promises.
I love you, my heart spoke to me, humbled before you,
Believe me, you are my dream, which will never fade from me”!
I decided to present this poem to him the next day, when we finished the exam.
– “Let’s have dinner”! – I heard my mother’s voice calling me from downstairs.
– “I’m not hungry. I ate a couple of pies with Jorgo”.
I didn’t tell him the truth. But I had no appetite. For me know there was only one dream, only one name. That was the name Neri. I imagined myself, like the heroes of the novels I had read…! Whose fate would I have in my love?
I was thinking about this when I heard footsteps on the stairs. After a while, the door opened and two officers, a civilian and the frightened family members entered. I knew one of the officers.
It was Marshal Demir Zhupa, the Security investigator for our school. I also knew the civilian. It was Dhimitri, a resident of the neighborhood who worked in the city office, which was next to the travel agency.
– “This is it”, – said Dhimitri, pointing to me.
The officers looked at each other suspiciously. Then Demir spoke, addressing me:
– “Get up, you will come with us”!
In my shirt pocket I had the second tract, which we had not been able to glue. I tried to take it out and throw it somewhere, but I couldn’t. All eyes were on me. They checked everywhere and when they found nothing, they took my sketchbook. Before we left, Dawn spoke
– “Why do you take it”?
When he heard this, Demiri looked at him angrily and said sternly:
– “You too come with us”.
When we got outside, I saw a bunch of cops waiting. At this time, I heard Fatusha’s voice calling:
– “Stop a minute”!
He hugged Agim, then me, saying in a low voice:
– “Do not be afraid! Be a man”!
At the Internal Affairs Branch, Agim was left in the corridor accompanied by police officers. I was brought into the vice president’s office. After me, Demiri also entered. The Deputy Head of the Department of Internal Affairs, Fadil Kapisizi, was there. He was sitting at his desk. He took out a bunch of tracts and put them in front of my eyes, saying:
– “You wrote these”?!
He put his lip on the gas. He got up from the table, came in front of me and, pulling my ear hard, said:
– “Listen, boy! If you wanted to, don’t bother yourself anymore. Accept it and tomorrow, you will be in exams with your friends”.
Tushi’s face appeared before my eyes, telling me:
– “Do not be afraid! Be a man”!
I shook my head in denial and said:
– “I haven’t written anything”.
A flurry of palms, the blaze in my face. The blow was unexpected. Then other blows began. Not only the mayor participated in them. Demir’s intervention also helped him.
– “Huh, you will continue not to speak”?! – repeated the vice president time and time again.
I felt that my powers were leaving me. I could no longer stand. A hard punch shot me in the face. I fell to the ground. My nose started to bleed. My mind wandered to the tract I carried in my shirt pocket. Instinctively my hand went there. Such an action did not escape the experienced eye of the vice president. His long experience in this direction triumphed over my childish ignorance. And it could not be otherwise. He was a mature man, while I was a child.
– “Wait”! – said.
It came close. He reached into my pocket and pulled out the tract. He smiled like a trump card and after reading it said:
– “You got a clove; will you continue to be silent”?!
I saw that I had nothing to hold on to. I was forced to accept taking it all upon myself.
– “Take him to the cell”! – said the chairman.
– “What about your brother”?
Demiri called two policemen. They came, lifted me to my feet, and just like that, almost dragging me away, they took me away. Dawn was gone. Then they locked me in the cell that was under the stairwell, leading to the basement, where there was a row of other cells. Memorie.al
The next issue follows