By Adelina Gina
The seventh part
-“I cried for you like dead, I waited for you like alive”-
Memorie.al / Rescue Gina, graduated in Journalism at the University of Tirana, in 1974, playwright, screenwriter and librettist, in the early 70s, thanks to his extraordinary talent, his work, works and creativity , “shocked” the artistic institutions of Tirana, such as; The People’s Theatre, the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the High Institute of Arts and the Albanian Radio-Television. He was one of the most sought-after chiefs and senior leaders of these institutions. In the time period 1971-1974, he left his mark, having collaborated closely with some of the most famous names of that time, such as: Mihallaq Luarasi, Kujtim Spahivogli, Pirro Mani, Mario Ashiku, Zhani Ciko, Nikolla Zoraqi and director Mevlan Shanaj and operator Pali Kuke. But the traces he left in these cultural and artistic institutions were unfortunately lost in the official silence of the communist regime?! In August 1974, Shpëtim Gina, lost his life in unexplained circumstances, drowning in two feet of water, in the river Drojë of Mamurras, (where he was performing the military choir together with other students), two days before, he had put a lightning sheet to the Chief of the General Staff of the Army! Was it really an accidental death, or was Shpëtim Gina eliminated by the State Security?! Why his “friend” who was with him until the last moments, declares that; “The body that was taken in the ambulance, wasn’t it Rescue?! Or the doctor of the military department of students, Mark N., who says: “We immediately went to the scene, but we did not find the body of Spetimi”?! And his family, why insists that; “They didn’t allow us to open the coffin before the burial when they brought it home and years later, we opened the grave in ‘Stalin City’, to bring it to Tirana, where we had moved as a family, those bones were not of Salvation, as they were missing. ..”?! Many questions, which have not yet received an answer! His sister, Adelina Gina graduated in journalism in the late 60s, in a book of hers entitled; ‘Where did you take Salvation’, published in the USA.
Continues from last issue
The very next day I appeared in the education section. It was a period when there were no places in schools. The head of education, R.H., was very nice to me the whole time I was there. I went to the section every day, filled out some paperwork, there were two or three good employees, I went out with them to drink coffee, I went to a school as a substitute and there I found good people who kept me close. As if I recovered from the feeling of persecution of the newspaper.
The building of the education section at that time was located in the center of the boulevard, from where many roads lead. One day, it was about ten o’clock; I had gone out to the main entrance and was thinking about where to go. It was a gloomy time, as if with tears. I didn’t have much work to do that day and I said to walk a little. Suddenly Dhori passed in front of me. Coincidences are once incredible. “Donate”. I called. He stopped in surprise. “I work here,” I said, just to get over the confusion. I walked a few steps with him and suddenly thought, why not call him home.
“Listen, Dhori, – I told him more gently, – father has been waiting to see you for a long time, you are a friend of the Salvation. Will you come tomorrow, I will wait for you here and we will go to father?”. He accepted. We also left ten o’clock for a meeting. I didn’t do the hike; I went inside and was thinking about tomorrow. All that night, the father prepared how he would ask Dhori. I told my father that he should not be teased more, he should be allowed to speak for himself, while for the finding that; “It didn’t seem like Salvation to me”, don’t say anything to him. I was afraid that he would deny it and my father was in despair. I had taken it upon myself to keep everyone up with hope and courage.
Before ten o’clock, I went out to wait for him in front of the building. I looked from all four sides. In front of me was the big city clock. How slowly the scorpions were moving. Here, ten, half past ten, eleven o’clock, he wasn’t coming. I had been waiting for an hour.
Eyes between people. “You can’t save me,” I said to myself, “I’ll ask you until I’m tired.” I passed Sahat and took the road to the People’s Theater and the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, I saw Dhori come out with a friend. I waited trembling, I shook my hands, I said to myself: “You have to smile”! “Forgive me, – I lied, – I couldn’t be there at ten o’clock.” He muttered something through his teeth. “Let’s go now, father is waiting for us “! His friend, in a brutal way, said: “No way, we have booked tickets to the cinema”! Dhori shrugged. “No, I said, between the cinema and the father whose son has died and who is I expect this, who has been with him in the last minutes, he will choose the father” and I took him by the hand.
We made the way home without speaking. When we got closer, I asked him: “If I saw you leaving the Ministry of Internal Affairs”?! “Yes,” he said, without batting an eyelash, “I am one of her comrades.” The father welcomed him warmly. He did not raise his eyes. The room was warm, they were facing each other. Dhori told: “That morning Salvation, I took to wash clothes. There were some changes to wash, I didn’t. We passed our ward and then that of the soldiers, it was very hot. I wanted to go back, but he told me that he would show me an interesting place where he was thinking of shooting a film. He started washing clothes; I lie down and fell asleep. When I got up, I looked for him and saw him at the bottom of the water, I tried to pull him out, I couldn’t pull him out. I ran, met a shepherd, who informed the soldiers’ ward”!
“You met the Savior in the choir?” asked the father. “No,” he said, “we met in the hospital.” We were both hospitalized.” “You didn’t stay in the ward after the incident.” “No, said Dhori, I was very shocked, I ran home on leave.” if we would force him to talk. Father’s questions were measured, he could denounce us. He didn’t stay long.
When he left, the father said, “This boy is lying.” I felt sorry for the father; I don’t know what he had expected. “Did you hear, – I told him, – they met in the hospital. That admission for this work has been done. Not even the name of the shepherd comes out”?! From the first meeting, Dhori had learned the role well, but in both times, this remained, that in order to go to the river, Shpetimi had insisted. What was the truth?! What had happened?! Looking, something was revealed, something was hidden…!
Reality was not enough for me; I jumped into the world of fortune telling. I had a family in Berat, with whom we had an old friendship. With Zana, the eldest daughter of this family, we were childhood friends. She had a beautiful face, with cherry eyes and small lips. We loved each other. We had been apart for years, but it seemed like yesterday. I went to her.
Her mother and father were teachers; they welcomed me with love and pain. The fairy was happy as a child and until recently, we hardly fell asleep. I didn’t know how to tell him my problem. “Fairy and my voice seemed scary to me, she still hadn’t fallen asleep, – and do you know why I came? I have a problem; I want you to help me.” It became calm. I continued: “You have cousin Emirena, that famous fortune teller. I want to cast a spell on her.” “Good,” said Zana, “now sleep, we go tomorrow.”
He didn’t ask me what was wrong with me, I felt bad for myself, but this issue was very delicate, I didn’t want to confuse my friends. I got up, sat on her bed. “Zana,” I said, “I have been removed from the newspaper, I am unemployed, I am at the disposal of the education section. I wrote a letter and sent it to Enver Hoxha, I am waiting for an answer, I don’t know what to do, so I want to see a fortune”. What I told him was true. I had sent a letter explaining that my departure had none of the reasons I was told. It was a time of spies. Enver encouraged espionage.
Anyone could write, complain, even anonymously. I had not only mentioned names, I had also put my name. I expected, maybe these, from Sigurimi, were not stronger than the one who created them. The fairy took my hands in hers and with those eyes so pure and tearful, she said: “It’s over. Tomorrow” It was a sunny day. We walked along the road. Beneath her, Osumi shone brightly from the sun, while on the other side – Mangalem built on the rock. I have always been surprised by the construction of the Church of Saint Michael (Saint Mill, as Berata people call it) on the rock, and every time I look at it, it looks like a man with ten eyes.
The houses of Mangalem have an interesting architecture and are one on top of the other. At the “Tourism” hotel, some women and a couple of men were raking the ground, preparing it to plant flowers. Berat has many beautiful and cultivated roses, there are also other flowers.
The fairy met one of those men. He waved to me, I approached. “This is our friend, if you find anything from this; we’ll see you around the neck. Do you believe me?”, Zana continued. I extended my hand. It was a tall man with some pimples on his face. “Mother is afraid, Zana,” pronounced he, – you know, she was in prison for this.” “Yes, this is me, do you doubt me”?! Said Zana angrily. He took out a piece of paper from his pocket and wrote something. He was the son of a fortune teller. The fairy took the letter. I thanked him and we left.
We passed the center and entered a cobbled alley with houses next to each other. The fairy stayed. “The letter, he told me. You will give it to Mrs. Emire. Now listen to me, do you see that green gate”? It was a wooden door, painted with deep green oil paint. “Yes,” I affirmed. “There is her house. I will not come, because there are many workers living in this alley, who work for me. And they can say that she came for fortune, you know what she will find”! Zana worked as a technological engineer, at the Food Factory I thanked the Fairy and headed up the alley.
The green door was slightly ajar. Like that man, who is being followed, I pushed the door and found myself inside. It was a stone-paved courtyard, a one-story house with a balcony, one of those that were apparently built late, not like the old houses of the city. A young woman appeared before me, with a child in her arms. A young man came out after her, maybe her husband. I handed him the letter. He read it. “Come,” he told me.
I entered a room, neither large nor small. At the top of it were the hearth and a window that looked out onto the courtyard. On a low bed sat a woman in black, a scarf tied on her head. The room was poor. An old woman was sitting on a pillar, near the hearth, she looked sad. The boy handed him the letter. Reading it, she pronounced: “Fool, he ran away from home and now sends letters.”
I don’t know why he said that, I knew the text of the letter, it said: “Mother, the letter is a friend of Zana, N.”!
“Sit down, sit down?” said the lady in black, and showed me a stool near the bed, where she was sitting. I was wearing pants, so it was easy for me to sit down. The sad woman, I was in front of me. I found out from the bride, she had come from Tropoja, their son had been sentenced to twenty years in prison, for trying to escape. I didn’t find out how he found his friend, the lady in black. The bride put the jezvena on fire, there were many embers. Spring was coming, but it was still cold. “These will be here when I see my cup,” I thought to myself.
“Drink,” she said and handed me the coffee. I started drinking it slowly. “Don’t drink it all the way”, I heard her voice and she reached out and took my cup. He took it and inverted it on a large dinner plate. It began: “What do you have an Adelina”? “It’s me,” I said. “Good girl. What’s wrong with you, Fotini?” “It’s my mother,” I said. She continued: “I’m dead and desolate!”
I was shocked, I had also heard other fortune tellers, yes they said; what do you have an M., or an A., etc., but full names, no. The lady in black, mentioned a series of names from the mother’s and father’s tribe, then said: “But a Salvation, what do you have?” I held my breath: “It is my brother.” “Now who will I speak of these names?” “For Salvation,” I said. “I asked for a good boy. I asked for my family and a woman. Gjynah, they asked for a lie. The government took her for her work. Now she is with an Abdyl and an Abdulla.” “Is he coming back”?!, I asked. “Here I look at eleven, I don’t know if it’s months or years.”
Then he asked me: “Where do you live, why did you come to me?” I told him that I lived in Tirana and that I had left the newspaper, I had filed a complaint and was waiting to return to the newspaper. “But where have you been assigned now?” , she said. “In education,” I said. “It’s useless. You will stay here”, she said. “Now tell me you tired me” and put the cup down. When I turned my head, the grieving wife and the bride were not there. “Don’t worry,” she said, “they’ve been gone for a long time. Listen, she continued, don’t come here to me again, the State Security guards me.” I left her a packet of coffee and got up. She called her son. .
It seems he came out to check the road. It came after a while. “Now come out”! The lady in black told me. I opened the green gate and found myself in the alley. There was no one, I was not afraid. If they found me inside, maybe they would arrest me. I didn’t go back to see Zana, if someone from the Security had followed me, I could have caused trouble.
I got into the car and returned to Tirana. All the way, I was thinking about what the lady in black told me, and I remembered a winter evening in Cafe “Flora”. It was a cozy cafe, frequented by young people and those from the Security. We often waited for Mani, who came from Laçi. He worked at the Superphosphate Factory and came on Saturdays because he had a place to stay; he had a married sister with two children. Mani had started seeing fortunes, with a cup. Salvation and I liked how he interpreted the figures in the cup and how he spoke, in a mysterious way.
He often asked us to pay for glasses of cognac to see us. He was very determined. “As you like, he said. You don’t have money, don’t look at the cup. You don’t have me for this system, I’m for capitalism. I was fed up with empty spoons”. We laughed, we took it better, he didn’t accept, and then Shpetimi took out a few lek, enough for a glass of cognac, and said: “Okay, I was looking at Adelina”. Mani took the lek and said: “E do for the sake of principle. They put you in prison for that much”, but we were young.
Only Kudreti, a fellow officer, attracted our attention. “Ore, are you in your right mind? This is where they all gather, and this one is not on the table”, he said about Mani. And he did what he did and lifted us from the cafe. One night that broke our fortune, that night it was his turn to pay for dinner, because Mani had paid the night before, Salvation whispered to me: “Try to eat as much as possible”! Near the Kombinat station, at that time a soup kitchen was built. We went to have dinner. We had meatballs with salad, soup, pie. The rescue asked me: “Do you want anything else? What about you, Mani?” “Yes, yes,” said Mani. I just started”. “Why, you haven’t eaten for a week, tonight you found yourself full”?! Said Kudreti. We were scolded. Then we went from his house. Kudret’s mother was not there. Mani found the pan and fried four eggs. Kudreti started to laugh; the eggs remained in the pan. Those were good times, I was with Shpetim.
The train was sliding towards Tirana, Mira and Titi was waiting for me. What about the father, what did he say? He did not believe in such things. Two years had passed, August 15 came again. I had decided to go to the scene myself. I knew the way; I had been there before the event happened. The soldier standing at the door escorted me to the officer of the guard. I introduced myself to him and asked to go to the place where my brother died. Two people, a soldier and an officer, came with me. The three of us would go that way, which Shpetimi did with Dhori, two years ago. The road was all dusty, it was hot. It was not asphalted, military vehicles passed through it. “Where do these go”? I asked. “In Kruja, said the officer, only military vehicles pass here, because it is a forbidden area”. The road was above, below me the river of Ndroji, thin, narrow, like a stream.
“So little water, there is always”? I broke the silence. “No, but during the summer it dries up and is left with very little water.” On both sides of the river lay a plain full of white and gray stones. We sat down, and the officer showed me a stone on the side of the road. “Thank you, I’m not tired” I said, because I had trouble calculating the exact time. We had been walking for over half an hour. “You know the place?” I asked, in vain. “The soldiers now call it ‘Student’s Rock,'” said the officer. Neither the river nor the road had ever shocked me as much as this word. “The Place of Salvation,” I said to myself himself, neither alive nor buried…!
We walked for a while. “Here is”! The officer pronounced slowly. Down there crept the thin line of the river. There was also a water hole. To get off the road and go there, it was very difficult. The edge of the road was full of thorns and the ground was slippery. Tamam goat path. Both the officer and the soldier held my hands until I got off. It was a water hole, the size of a room. As it began, there was a flat rock, and a very high rock, at the bottom of it. This was the place Shpetimi had chosen to shoot a film. Impossible! Then Dhori was a doctor, what opinion would he give him?! The officer and the soldier were a little further away.
Tranquility. The river line, where Mani found the bars of soap, came to the pit. I put my foot in it, no more than 25-30 cm. deep. I approached the pit; it was clear water and seemed to be deep. In this place, everything can be done, well place. I had walked for over forty minutes, so if you count the whole distance that the Salvation took that day, it was about an hour. So an hour on the road, to wash some clothes, an hour in the heat. Dhori tells them to go back, but Spetimi fills his mind, that it is a fantastic place. Then I called out: “Where did you take Salvation?”. Salvation brought Dhor or Dhor brought Salvation? How did the ambulance find itself in this place?! According to Dhori, Shpëtimi was the first to be removed by ambulance, because he said: “When I saw his belt, I was shocked.” An ambulance does not come to the investigator?! Memorie.al
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