From Uran Butka
Memorie.al / Uran Butka come from a family of patriots. His father, Safet Butka, graduated in Austria, director of the Tirana high school and former commander of the National Front detachments, killed himself during the Second World War, due to the pain caused by the fratricide among Albanians, making an appeal great, for the cessation of the civil war, between the communist partisan forces and the nationalist forces of the National Front of Legality. After graduating in Language and Literature and working for several years as a teacher, such as in Krujë, etc., for political reasons, Urani is fired from his job and forced to do various physical jobs. In 1975, by decision of the Internment-Deportation Commission, he was expelled from Tirana and exiled with his whole family, being sent first to the district of Tropoja, and then to the deep province of Martanesh in the district of Mati. Uran Butka is one of the initiators of the democratic movement and one of the founders of the Association of Former Persecuted and Political Prisoners of Albania, a member of the Albanian Parliament in several legislatures proposed by the Democratic Party and at the same time he was also the chairman of the commission for the evaluation of figures and the rehabilitation of the victims of the communist dictatorship. He led the Movement for National Reconciliation and the integration of political prisoners. After the 90s, in addition to various articles in the press of the time, he also published several books such as: “Revival”, “Masakra e Tivari”, “Genius of the Nation”, “The Return of Mit’hat Frashëri”, ” Safet Butka”, etc., but one of his most voluminous works remains the series of books dedicated to the life and work of Mit’hat Frashër, which has been published in several volumes. The text published below by Memorie.al is taken from one of his memoirs, where he describes the night before his exile in the city of Tirana as well as his arrival in the district of Tropoja, where he was sent as a family, after the decision of the State Commission of Internment-Deportation, which was chaired by the member of the Political Bureau and the secretary of the Central Committee of PPSh, Manush Muftiu.
Continues from last issue
– Away from people –
The next day was Sunday.
I asked for a painter, but I was told that he had fled to Fierza. Then I found a bucket of lime and a brush and whitewashed the inner walls of the tower.
We put Ella in the cart under the shade of a pomegranate tree in front of the door. Emma looked at her from time to time, washed her with the water that I brought her in buckets from a tap far away and returned to the girl.
– What do you have? – a woman’s voice was heard.
– What – Emma answered you?
– I saw him alive! Like a light, there are good.
– How are you my doctor?
They hugged tightly.
This is my husband, Bajrami. Remember?
– I do not remember…!
– I often came to the Tirana hospital, when Teuta was hospitalized there, – he said.
– Oh, yes. You waited at the door during each dialysis session. You even jumped on my neck, when you said that Teuta had escaped…!
– We are grateful for her life.
– Order inside, although it’s a mess…!
– We have come to take you to our house. We have plenty of room. You don’t have to stay here, – said Teuta.
– Thank you very much, but we have been assigned here and we will stay here, – replied Emma. – We will try to adjust somehow.
– No, my doctor, work that cannot be done. In fact, we should have taken you as early as last night. The word was spreading that they had brought some internees from Tirana and no one dared to go out. Today, Dr. Ganiu, who is our neighbor, showed me that a kidney doctor has arrived. Which one? – I asked her. – Emma, - he told me.
– I started from here.
You could get Teuta for 30 to 32 years old. Tall as a cypress, black-haired and blue-eyed like Valbona, a wonder of nature. A year ago, both kidneys were blocked. Ten days without peeing. Azotemia at peak. They made it urgently in Tirana. That afternoon, Emma was the doctor on call. He immediately did the tests and put him on dialysis. The first session lasted 8 hours and Emma stayed at the camera by herself. For seven days in a row, connected to an artificial kidney. Hopes were almost lost. On the eighth day, your kidneys unblocked and resumed function. Emma didn’t leave you for a moment until she came back to life.
– How are you doing now? – he asked – I feel very well, doctor. Now I have also stopped the medicine.
– You are like an apple seed, – Emma said laughing and hugged her
– Come on, let’s go home, together with the girl and the husband, – said Teuta – Bajrami finds a cart and drops her clothes.
– We can’t come, – replied Emma.
– Do you want to lose the point? There are no conditions here, not even water. This tower has not been inhabited for half a century. Since the time of the War. All the males were killed and the tribe became extinct. Now there are only snakes.
There was a heavy silence.
– Teuta? – Emma broke the silence with difficulty – we don’t want to cause trouble for you or Bajram. We… are in the red circle…!
– Ani, this doesn’t bother us at all, – said Teuta.
– I am a worker, – said Bajrami, – if they remove me from Fierza, I will work somewhere. Teuta is at home. For us, it is an honor, it has not been taken.
I had not spoken until then. I was touched by their friendship, but I was also very glad that the man was still alive.
– I thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I can’t come. Emma does what is best.
– I will not separate from you, – she did not hold back.
– The word is not about separation, but about securing the girl.
The danger to the girl’s life broke him.
On Monday morning, he left Teuta’s house for the provincial hospital, where he was told that we do not know anything about her appointment there. He went to the locality offices. The chairman received him coldly; he didn’t even shake his hand.
– It has not been decided where you will work, – he said. – You will wait.
– Who will decide? – She asked, but did not receive an answer. He started talking to another, letting him know that the conversation was over.
When she came to the tower, she was upset and nervous. His nostrils quivered slightly and his lips were tight, pale.
– Don’t worry; it’s a game of nerves. We have to face it calmly.
– I don’t mind the disregard that goes as far as humiliation, but this state of suspense…!
– No one feels safe about the place of work, about the place of residence, about the place of death. Everything suspended. Everyone – neither in heaven nor on earth. Only in this way can they possess and direct the souls where they want.
– I am not looking for anything, except to work, wherever it is. You know my weakness for the profession. Do you want to take away my right to exercise…?!
– They unequivocally take away the right to live. We must be prepared for everything…! For you, – I added to somehow calm him down, – they have no reason to do this…! Then we are together, we also have Ela… As you said, when both families gathered in Tirana: “I will come with you even to the end of the world”.
She hugged me and I felt tears on her shoulder.
– I’m sorry, – he said in a hoarse voice, – I’m being selfish…! What about you?
We stayed in suspense for a week. At the end of it, they informed us that we had to travel to Fierza. We were assigned there. The rooster on top of the mule was already singing to us…!
As I found out later, there was a big fuss in the district and in the government: What have you sent us these declassified? Tropoja is a pure border district. They can cross the border in an instant! Who is responsible, then…? The commissions had gathered in Tirana and instructed: “As soon as we find a suitable place, move them to the innermost part of the district, as far as possible from the border.”
Fierza was the innermost edge.
They loaded the roots back into a truck. The only one who escorted us was Teuta. Bajram was at work. She was holding Ela by her side, after whom she was very fond of in those days. Ela had circled him with the small doches around his neck.
– Where-where, where-where..! – muttered Teuta.
– Don’t faint! – said Emma. We will be close. As soon as we are ready, we will invite you to come.
– We will come, definitely.
In Fierza, we were placed in one of the workers’ buildings of Zone B. In a room at the entrance of the building, which served as a dormitory? In front of the toilets. It didn’t darken the spring either. There was no question about shelves and other furniture. We left them in the corridor, where they walked one by one. Inside a concrete threshold below the door, where urine seeped and the stench of waterless toilets. We had nothing to do with the incessant noises of the workers, who worked in three shifts.
Man adapts to everything. He finds the reason and the will to live, whatever the circumstances. Even when life becomes unbearable.
Emma was interested in work every day. If only she would start once. We had run out of the little money we had taken with us. We had run out of patience.
The day after tomorrow I will start at the hospital. – gave me the sihariqin. – That’s what they told me in the Committee of the Region…! An important meeting is held. They ordered me that we must be both. I told them that one could not come, because we have nowhere to leave the girl, because they do not accept her in the nursery without being in a working relationship. Yes, it is a definite order, they told me.
The large hall of the Red Corner was filled to the brim with workers from Area B., hospital doctors and teachers of the 12-year-old school. We barely found a seat there towards the end. We had taken the girl with us. At the appointed time, the meeting began. In the presidium sat the local authorities and the delegate, the secretary of the Party Committee for the Cadre, a small man, but quite capable, as they said. He was from Vlora, friend Hysni’s cousin. In the background, a large oil portrait of Enver Hoxha, a recently finished work by a well-known painter that had been brought to Fierza for re-education shone. Enver Hoxha’s quotes are all around the walls.
The delegate spoke with pathos about the situation. The chest was electrified.
– With permission, – said a worker dressed in overalls, sitting in the first row. I have a question. You spoke right about vigilance and class struggle, but ama, brings us to our new socialist city, enemies of the Party. Even, you put them in selected jobs; house them in the workers’ palaces…!
I realized that this meeting was planned for us. After public discredit, public arrest usually followed. This time, the sacrifice had to be me.
– I was arrested, – I said softly to Emma, - don’t let yourself go. They immediately left for Tirana.
Her face disappeared.
– This is vigilance, – addressed the worker in overalls to the chairman of the Party Committee of the Region. – This is how the class war really takes place…?!
– With permission, – another worker with a cap stood up. – I want to ask you some questions to that friend over there, – and directed you to Emma. – Why did you come here?!
She gave me the girl and stood up.
– To work.
– Why did they expel you from Tirana, tell the working class?!
– The government knows that. They didn’t tell me anything. I only know that I have been passed around like many others.
– What family relationship do you have with the mother of Beqir Balluku’s wife?
What is your husband’s relationship with Petrit Duma, why don’t you tell him?!
– Uuuu, – was heard in chorus the reaction of the mass of people who were in the hall.
– No relation, – she replied. On the contrary…!
He wanted to explain himself, to object, but a strong lump had gathered in his throat. He felt a desire to call out so that everyone could hear him, a reluctance to break something, a long-collected anger that wanted to explode, but could not get out of himself.
– What about the father who was an exponent of the National Front, why don’t you say this?! – insisted the worker with the cap. His face was red and his eyes were flashing. His arm was cocked like a rifle, his trigger finger pointed at Emma.
I hugged the girl who started to cry.
– Why do you fall for this? – I said. – Here you have me!
– Answer the question! – Several voices were heard at once. – This is the class trial.
– It is true that my father was an exponent of Balli, but he was a patriot, he was anti-fascist and exiled in Italy. He sacrificed himself to stop fratricide…!
– Yes, this is the climax, fellow secretary! This is making us patriotic ballistas and anti-fascist fighters. According to him, the ballisticians have liberated Albania! This is contrary to the party line and the works of Comrade Enver, – said indignantly the school director, a short man, with yellow-white hair, eyebrows and eyelashes and facial scars.
– Ballistic puppy, – shouted the mayor of the Fierza Region. – You have no place here, but in Spač to extract copper!
– Enemy of the party! Enemy of the people! – Voices were heard in the hall.
The girl was crying bitterly. Emma, who had lost him, made no effort to calm him down. He stood up and watched with horror what was suddenly happening. The calls from all sides, the heat and the tobacco smoke, were taking his breath away.
– Where are we here, in the meeting or in the nursery?! – The worker in overalls got up again. – Take out that pantry! – addressed Emma with a rusty voice.
– Give some milk, – I told him.
– I tried it, but my milk has stopped.
She was numb. His face had taken on the color of a meite.
– With permission, I have a proposal, – said the man with the cap. The features of his face, under the menacingly raised eyebrows, had taken on a frightening appearance… – Let’s make an example of these. Let’s burn them here in front of the square. Let’s make a log of wood and burn them alive…!
There was a deep silence.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Our lynching was called for. Oh horror! Where were we like that? In the Middle Ages? The only one who came to my mind in that world was my mother…! Her large, clear eyes gazed at me calmly. I glanced around the hall, which had once again started to seethe, demanding our punishment. This was no accident. A few months ago, they asked the same for Beqir Haçin in Tirana. “Let’s burn the bourgeois who teaches Western languages to our young people on a grapevine in the middle of the New Pazar”. I felt madness touch me.
– More, what’s going on like this! – raised his voice a tall man with gray hair. – I am from Cologne and I know this family well. The party and comrade Enver have appreciated him. His grandfather and uncles gave their lives for Albania.
– Come on, come on! – softened the delegate a little. – The party does not burn people, it burns their diseases.
– What do you say, – addressed the colonist, the worker in overalls – should we keep them here in Fierza? What if they sabotage, like blow up the hydroelectric dam, what will happen?!
– He is right, – said the head of the Region. – Let’s not accept them in Fierza.
This is the voice of the crowd. The government can take them wherever it wants, but not here.
– Well, well, – the secretary who stood up said. His small body protruded over the table covered with red meringue and his bright eyes had taken on a red reflex. – As long as you think so, so it will be. The working class decides, it is in power. Who agrees with this decision?
Everyone raised their hands.
Then I turned my eyes to Emma. She held tightly to her chest the girl who had stopped crying, but the tears still hung below her eyelids, like quivering drops of dew. Emma’s fingers trembled slightly from the anxiety that seemed to have been transferred to her hands. Her whole being was pale, almost translucent, like a yellowed leaf, still, perhaps by chance, on a twig of a tree and shivering in the icy winter wind.
This time there was no need for a truck. With a bag of loot in hand and my daughter on my arm, we took the urban line to Bjaram Curr, where we would stay temporarily, until the government decided. We checked into the old town hotel. To make ends meet, Ema worked for some time at the Polyclinic. Temporary. Always in suspense. Pending. But that took too long. In fact, it was not easy. The instruction of the Central Internment-Deportation Commission, after we were not accepted in Fierza, was clear: to settle definitively away from the borders and away from the residential centers. It was signed by my friend Hysni Kapo himself! But it was very difficult to find such a place, if not impossible. Away from borders and away from people! The latter confused the matter badly. The Deportation – Internment Commission worked intensively on maps and data. Comrade Manush, you lost your sleep. Finally, Teqeja e Martanesh was found, alienated in a rural hospital. Far from the villages. At the foot of a cliff, completely lonely and surrounded by nameless graves.
Far, far away from the borders…!
And away from people. Memorie.al