From Engjëll Dine
-(To my fellow sufferers, my closest people, with respect and love!)-
Memorie.al / It’s been a while since I get a wave filled with a bunch of feelings that run through me to the deepest point of my soul and then it returns to where it came from, as quickly as it appears as if it were a tide true, it takes everything with it, leaving a huge void behind, a void that takes time to fill again. And what is the truth, as long as this “tide” continues to rise, in this completely unexpected way, like a sly thief who steals often and little, so little that it is not understood that something is missing, it will come out, take everything with you. I’m not a writer, I don’t even have the right vocabulary of the Albanian language to express what I want to say, as I feel it, or as I experience it with my mind and soul, however, today I have something to say, ” what’s gnawing at me inside, insistently asks to come out, and apparently is stronger than the will to defeat it.
I will write about some people that I was lucky enough to meet in person, people who influenced my life directly or indirectly. I will write from my point of view, as I knew them, as I have stored them in my memory all these years, starting from the period of childhood until today.
People whose names you may have read in newspaper articles, or seen and heard in television programs made just for them, interviews made by various journalists, in the pages of books written by conscientious people who feel it is their duty , to write about the sons and daughters of some of the most patriotic families.
Families that were persecuted by the communist dictatorship, precisely because they were people with values, with patriotic feelings. People about whom, one day, whole volumes of books can be written. Whose names will be included in the historiography of Albania, when the true history of Albania will be written by genuine historians, not by pseudo-historians impregnated with red communist mud that still fill the chairs of schools and jubilee conferences everywhere.
People for whom monuments should be erected, in city squares and streets, in museums. These are some of the people I had the good fortune to know closely. Each of them influenced my life in one way or another, giving me the inspiration to live life regardless of the conditions and hostile spirit that surrounded me.
But who are these people…?
For those who had the good fortune to know them closely, they could say: “They are some of the simplest, kindest, noblest, bravest, even the most wonderful people in the world. They were not the heroes that Albanians are used to calling. They no longer fought rifle in hand. In fact, no one fought. What they did was much more difficult than the choice to go out with a gun in hand. Life dropped the heaviest on their backs; they endured countless injustices on their shoulders, still wet, until the days when your hair turned white.
They endured and faced them with peerless patience, as if they were accompanied by a supernatural energy that gave them new strength every day they woke up. And they grew up without parents, yet managed to raise their children, in an exemplary manner. Some of them are the sons and daughters of those who, putting aside different political convictions and supporting Ahmet Zog, managed to build the first Albanian state, with all the modern structures of the time. The time when the aspirations for the unification of the ethnic lands, was still alive, occupied the first place in the agenda of state affairs.
When the citizens enjoyed all the rights, the Albanian still felt proud of his origin; the owner enjoyed his land. The first foundations were being laid towards the disappearance, towards the improvement of economic well-being throughout the country, towards the formation of institutions, structures and infrastructure that constitute a real state, the first Albanian state, the only one that managed to improve the lives of its citizens within a relatively short period of time short. At a time when the big, most advanced countries, with old cultures, were building absolute dictatorships, like that of fascism and later the Nazi one. Dictatorships that caused suffering and destruction not only in Albania but also on a global scale.
But who were these people…?
For “Uncle” Deda (Dede Markagjoni / Gjonmarkaj) who took me on his lap and with his kindness, caressed me and played with me, as if I were his child. His old face, wrinkled from the hard life and, from the injustices that he had done in his life, from the 37 years in prison that he did, with his head full of gray, will remain in my memory, as one of the noblest faces that I have seen. For Xhaxhi Genci (Genc Bajraktari) who served 10 years in prison and as if that was not enough, he was exiled on appeal three times a day, until the 90s and who made me a wooden sword and revolver even though he was exhausted, from the heavy work he was doing, he was sorry to spoil my fun.
For “Uncle” Kola (Sokol Miraka) who, together with his brother Simon (Simon Miraka), spent their whole lives in internment camps and were released only a few months before the communist beast died once and for all. About “Zhaxhi” Kola, the first man I saw playing the harmonica. His face has remained in my mind, all smiles, humor and kindness. For Uncle Tom (Tomorr Dine), the wisest, but at the same time the most invincible and reserved man I have ever met. Who never forgot his humor even though the dictatorship tried to kill his human spirit?
He was and continues to be the only person I know, even though he was denied school, like many other fellow sufferers, he knew and spoke 5 languages. And what surprised me when I heard him speak a foreign language for the first time was Greek, and that he, not only had not learned this language in school, but had never even been to Greece?! I remember that the Greeks complimented him on the language he spoke. He used to teach us long poems about Skanderbeg, Naim’s poems. From his melodious voice, accompanied by the sounds of the guitar, I heard the Albanian serenades, the Albanian civic folk music, for the first time.
There I learned for the first time that the Albanians were able to make music with impressive lyrics and sounds, compared to the revolutionary propaganda songs, often taken from their ideological “brothers”, the Serbo-Slavs, the Russians or the Chinese, and that were heard on every radio station, on every TV show from morning to night.
Let me tell you about Shkurta (Shkurta Serdari Dine) who took me to Peshkopi for the first time, where my ancestors had put down roots 300 years ago and had made a name for themselves, who with the work and sweat of balit, had managed to create wealth and made a significant contribution to the “National Issue”. There I met the other members of the tribe for the first time.
Adriana (Adriana Radi Dine) who during the years that her husband was in prison, even though she was very young, stayed and faced them with dignity and never wavered all the vicissitudes that life threw in the way. She who, with her golden hands, gave value to everything she touched. The one who knitted the most beautiful knitwear, the one who conquered our hearts with her humor and love.
For my uncles, Viktori, Leka, Tomorri and Ernest Dosti, who spent years in the prisons of the dictatorship, and later were interned in the Gradishta camp, suffocated by the troubles and the miserable life they were forced to lead, they never forgot about their “little” sister. For uncle Selamiu (Selami Xhydon), who opened his door to us and welcomed us and treated us as if we were family. For Neshet (Neshet Talon), which I brought under your nose when you bought the TV, because I couldn’t leave it without watching my favorite programs, coming and going every hour, as if it were my house, right? Only I never saw him complain, but, I never saw him show even the slightest annoyance.
For “Aunt” Vali (Valbona Çoku Miraka), who with her gentle soul, sowed only kindness, with her open face and soft voice, gave the impression that she had grown up in a royal palace and not in the camps exile. I never heard him lose his temper, so much so that even when he got angry, he vented with an expression that I had never heard before, “Good Tuesday”! For Lirie (Lirie Kupi), that every time I went to Gradishte, she loved me and treated me as if I were one of her children.
The one who chose the life of exile, next to her husband, who spent his life in prisons and exiles. Liria’s sister, Lefta, who at that time was a doctor at the Lushnja hospital, should also be mentioned here. I was hospitalized in Lushnje, when I was only 9 months old, and fell into a coma for 3 months.
The persistence and care that she showed for me during this time, when others had given up all hope, gave courage to my mother, who stayed in my head every day and night, without leaving for three months in a row. Mother’s sisters, Shano (Shanisha (Dosti) Sokoli) and Tefta (Dosti) Gjergjani) in whose presence I always felt like. I was by my mother’s side even when she was not there.
For Hyria (Hyria Kupi Dosti) who “left” me one of the strangest memories. One day, if I’m not mistaken, it was Friday, near sunset, he said to me: “Come with me, we’re going somewhere!” and so it happened. We walked along canals and fields of wheat and corn, and stopped in an open field, in a place where the grass was flattened, which indicated that that place was more often trodden on than the rest of the field. She, with a candle in her hand, whispered some words that I did not understand, in fact I did not understand at all what was happening, because I was still small.
But it stuck in my mind all my life, until one day I found out that other camp women also often went to this place in the middle of the square grass plot. There used to be a church there and the women of the camp prayed to God, even though some of them did not belong to the Christian religion, they prayed with the hope that: “someone” would listen to their sufferings, which were increasing and increasing, for their children who were growing up without a father, for men who were rotting in the political prisons of the dictatorship.
For that woman and for that man, whose sacrifices are endless, for those who found the strength to take the bread out of their own and their children’s mouths, to take it to their uncle who was experiencing the most difficult days of his life? And I forgot the hunger, because the uncle (Hajredin Dine) would suffer not only the deprivation of his freedom, in his best age, as if this was not enough in itself, he would suffer the death of the man he loved most in life, that of his mother. A mother who died of a broken heart, a few months after her only son was put in prison.
The uncle, suffering separation forever from his wife and child who needed him so much. He suffered separation forever, from his brothers and sisters, who, within the very limited possibilities they had, did not let his family be alone, not even for a moment during all the years of prison. Uncle, whom I met for the first time in ’88. Until then, I had only heard of him, and over time his image stuck in my psychosis as a gigantic figure, and when I first met him, I saw that he was only a few centimeters taller than me.
And last but not least, I want to continue writing about the two people who are the main energy and inspiration of this writing. For the mother, who struggled with death for days, saying “NO? Today, NOT tonight!”, for every day and every night, for three consecutive months, until the day I opened my eyes for the first time, after more than 90 days. In this way, he and his father fought against evil for 45 consecutive years.
For the father who, with his deeds in life, taught me to be a man. To the man I prematurely grayed out when he tried to teach me math, my least favorite subject during my eight-year-old years. And he was able to help me and teach me this subject, better than the teachers of the system, who had left the reins of the cart, to become teachers of the Party. For that man who was never broken, for that man who even to this day, even though he is approaching old age, tries with all his strength to be his own master.
Everything I believe, my worldview, every cell in my body suddenly seems to me to be in complete contradiction with the world around me, and for that I blame you. But in truth, you are as guilty for this as you were for the accusations and the ordeal of suffering that you experienced throughout your life under the communist dictatorship. I make you “guilty” because, ‘you’ are the measuring unit with which I measure Love, Friendship, Nobility, Generosity, Manhood, Will, Discipline, Justice, Respect, Courage, and Morality. From you I learned how to treat a friend, even an enemy, how to keep one’s word, what is honesty, sacrifice.
I learned what convalescence is, I learned that it is not necessary for a man and a woman to be “equal”, to be happy and satisfied with each other. You gave us life, during a difficult time, within a completely absurd time and space. And if that wasn’t enough, you raised us with real values that contradicted everything within that artificial world. But where did all these lessons come from that you gave us, through deeds and daily life, lessons that cannot be taught in any school?
How is it possible that these people who “roamed” from one internment camp to another, from one prison cell to another, were such an example? You who spent decades in the mud of Myzeqe. You who during the day worked in canals with water up to your waist and at night, by candlelight, read Tolstoy, Kafka, Hugo, Voltaire, Plato, Socrates, Schopenhauer, and the next day you found the strength to throw yourself on your shoulders, even another day, and just like that…you went to compulsory, slavish, degrading work, especially for your class!
You are Naim’s candlelight!
You are the explosive power of Fan Nol’s “Rivers”!
You are the full meaning of the word Superman!
You achieved the Superhuman in the most absurd, most inhuman, most miserable circumstances! You were surrounded by a company of cannibals that often looked like hypnotized crowds!? Like those in “horror” movies, soulless beings, with a ghastly appearance accompanied by a symphony of discordant sounds, with a deafening intensity and sharpness, whose existence could only be prolonged by the consumption of innocent people.
However, you understood these limited beings, you understood the “reasons” behind their actions and with iron discipline and your human spirit, you not only did not give them the slightest chance to raise a “hand” on you, but even , you even felt sorry for their pathetic condition.
You understood very well the fact that they were beings possessed by an evil energy that had narrowed their hearts and clouded their brains. The communist dictatorship stripped them of any human value, beings that were used as tools, in the hands of communist ignorants. Under these strange circumstances, human character was put to the real test, and you passed the “exam” with flying colors. And like a small organism, threatened on all sides, closed in on itself, with its own forces, efficient, perfect in every action, with countless sacrifices, you managed to survive against all odds. Memorie.al
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