Memoirs of Beqir Sura Ayaz
Continues from last issue
Memorie.al/“How did the partisans arrest me in October 1944 and the famous people I knew in Tirana Prison, where they also shot my father”?
Right after I was sentenced to 30 years in prison, they took my father, Sure Ajazin, with some 30 or so other arrested people and took him to the court to the cinema, behind the ministries. Prosecutor Bilbil Klosi was really “dexterous”, as many as thirty defendants, he questioned them within the first day, listened to them within the second day, both them and the defense of the lawyers, and the day after tomorrow, he issued the sentences like those oven buns. And his sentences were not appealed…!
Along with my father, many were tried themselves, but those who were sentenced to death and executed were: Sure Ajazi, Murat Basha, Ibrahim Bodinaku, Habib Gega, Mersin Hasa, Nazmi Lumani, Maliq Karahasani, Abdullah Kusi, Xelal Peza, Osman Taraku, Fak Vrapi, Kolë Zefi and Hajredin Zogolli.
Allegedly in order to show themselves as a government that was very worried about legality, the defendants were presented ready to sign the request for clemency by the Presidium of the People’s Assembly. My father had rejected this ridiculous maneuver and Fak Vrapi with him. My father had yelled at Faku, pushing him to sign that application because he was young. However, Faku called with all his might in the cinema, saying: “It’s useless, Mr. Sure, when the qadi beats you, you have nowhere to make a case”!
When they returned to the prison, they put them in the death dungeon, waiting for Omer Nishan to sign the decision or pardon any of them. On June 7, 1945, looking out the window, my father had seen there, in front of the command, Ymer Efendi Zorba. Since he was appointed to accompany the condemned to death to the place of execution and sing them the “telkin” (the last prayer sung to the dying Muslims), my father had come to the conclusion that on that day they they would shoot them.
With this thought, he had asked the director of the prison, Janaq Karapataq, to take me to him, since I was also in prison. When I was put into the dungeon of those condemned to death, I happened to see a scene that rarely happens to a person in life: If I were asked to describe this prison in two words, I would have to say that, this dungeon completely engulfed them a “Jewish Havre”. My father was sitting cross-legged and made room for me to sit under him on the mattress. Someone prayed; someone was singing the Koran; someone said hurray with a long rosary; someone was screaming and someone else was crying sometimes out loud. I want to state, for the sake of truth, that during my stay on that deathbed, I had no guard to eavesdrop on the words I was about to exchange with my father.
– I called you – he said – to leave you the last orders and bequests. A hodja was seen in front of the command door and this shows that we will be shot today. There are three orders that I thought I should leave you: Don’t get involved with Albania’s politics because, if it had been possible to get something out of this, I would have found it…!
Never slap a man. If you have a disagreement with someone, be patient, be patient, and be patient until he can’t hold any more rice water. Try hard not to reach that point, where there is no more room for patience. All the orphaned daughters of the tribe of Ajaz, to bring and escort them better than your sisters. If a male from the tribe is unable to marry, you must collect money from the circle so that no son of our tribe remains unmarried, due to lack of wealth.
I also met Colonel Osman Gazepi in prison. He was an academic officer of the Ottoman school. A man with a strong character, brave, loyal, but a joker and brawler who had no friend. With these qualities, he became known in the entire Albanian society of that time. His jokes, which became a legend, are shown in different environments even today. Many consider Osman Gazepi a fool. It is not true at all. He was even very smart; he had a mania to create hilarity in the environment where he lived, even if he lowered his personality a little. That he was determinedly brave, I had the opportunity to see for myself.
In prison, Osman Gazepi was old and a man without a cure in this world. A woman, who was left to him, had gone and lived in Fushë i Korça, because as a Martyr mother that she was, she did not want to spoil her biography, calling her in the opinion, as the wife of Osman Gazepi…! So I am an eyewitness of the fact that that old man, for four years in a row, that is, until Enveri, after the break with Tito, began to put that soup kettle in prison, Colonel Osman Gazepi, kept his soul with only 650 grams of dry black bread, without accepting anything else from anyone. And a man with such a personality cannot be or have been either a buffoon or a fool. Very rarely, if ever, he could agree to go to lunch or dinner with a friend with whom he had a lot of conversation and who knew him to be a serious man.
His sleeping mats consisted of two ordinary blankets from the Greek army, one of which he used as a mattress and the other he threw over himself. As for the pillow, he had completely removed it, becoming, in his old age, a real ‘Spartan’, because he always rested his head on one pillow. In such a state, Osman Gazepi lived a full eight years and would have done the other seven, if a specific and completely random circumstance had not helped him. One day, the then Minister of the Interior, the terrible Mehmet Shehu, who sowed terror and death wherever he stepped, came to us for inspection…!
At first, he listened to any complaints or asked any inmates how life was going in the prison. Many of those who presented him with some kind of complaint or some request, he, by his harsh attitude, made them regret the step they had taken, because he insulted and humiliated them and laid the blame on them himself. Manol Kume, a young businessman, nationalist and true democrat, asked him how the problem of Kosovo stood. I, who had my ears pricked up to understand the rules of the game, am still surprised by Mehmeti’s answer:
-“You love Kosmet because you have trouble doing big trade with it, buying there cheaply and selling it in Gjirokastër, with big profits. This is why Manol Kumja wants Kosmet to be with Albania, while we, who are true communists, know that Kosmet lives and flourishes for beauty in the bosom of Marshall Tito, who holds it in the palm of his hand”.
Then, wanting to give his visit some sense of humor that would be remembered for a long time, he turned to Osman Gazepi and, with a whole tone of hilarity, said to him:
-“What about you, Colonel Osman Gazepi, who are you with and what do you want from me, that I heard the demands of these others”?
– “I, Mr. Minister, am only with Zogu and the youth” – Osmani waited.
-“Yes, when you loved the Bird so much and he also loved you, how do you explain that he flew away and left you here”?!
– “I, Mr. Minister, did not have such merits that he flew away, he did well, because otherwise he would not be called Zog.” Our bird, just as it flew away, will also fly one day and return to its nursery…”!
-“If we leave these, oh Mehmet Shehu…! I have been told that you are brave and I myself want to believe such a thing. Yes, the brave has two things: he kills you or he forgives you! I am an old man, I have now served eight years in prison, of which the first four, with only 650 grams of dry bread, and the last four, apart from dry bread, I also ate a spoonful of prison soup. I have been living here all these years, unwashed, unchanged, unshorn and unshaven. Therefore, Mehmet Shehu, face these men, I say to you, as a man, to a man: kill me, let me go. And I forgave the blood according to custom and canon…”!
Mehmet Shehu did not stay with him anymore; he left and ran away with all his people. Almost after two months, Osman Gazepi was released. For this, he did not remain imprisoned without rejoicing. I say with conviction and with many proofs that all honest and serious people had fallen into trouble with Colonel Osman Gazepin, because he categorically refused their help. So he went out through Tirana with a pair of dirty pants, patched as if they were not worse and with a red woolen blanket that he had tied around his neck with wire and thrown back like a cape. As a great conversationalist who was known by all of Tirana, he spent the day with jokes and stories. To sleep he was carried by all the managers of the bars, because they knew that the floor was paved with gold, he was one of those who did not touch anything.
After a few weeks, when the curious in Tirana began to feel fed up with Osman’s chatter, they began to stop listening to him and stop asking about him. They didn’t call him or even treat him to a coffee. When he realized that he was left like a coffin after the harvest, that no one needed him anymore, and that there was no other life for him in Tirana, except becoming a beggar, the desolate Osmani had taken the road on foot, to go one day in Fushë i Korça, to the woman’s tribe, hoping to find a place to put his head in and die there.
This is how glory goes and this is how this false life is made sense of. No one has been able to enjoy it or understand it until the end. This Osman Gazep, who had once entered the Parliament on horseback and asked Ahmet Zogu for permission to “throw black water on the Parliament”, (when Beqir Valteri injured Ahmet Zogu), this Osman Gazep, to whom humanity once did he know by heart both the time when he left the house and the route from which he would go, one day, no one would care about him anymore. No one found out when he left Tirana and made his way to Fushë i Korça. What is known for sure is the fact that Colonel Osman Gazepin was found dead on the edge of the highway, near Haxhi Beqari Bridge. The doctor sent there and the prosecutor found that he had finished eating the lice…! This is how Colonel Osman Gazepi ended his days, whose pranks, jokes and pranks are still mentioned and told today. Osman Gazepi was an officer with an academy and very brave and loyal.
Falling down when you can’t sleep and getting up when you do, the prison night is a real exhaustion and torture. Often times, in that sleep, the body and the brain do the opposite of each other…! When the body is tired, the mind takes the plains and mountains, crosses the seas, and when the brain is asleep, the body is forced to work. So, over time, this state becomes second nature: I was in just such a state one night, when it seemed to me that a man was standing next to me while I was lying down. I appeal to my forces to wake up. I raise my head towards the person in front of me, but I can’t tell who it is. The man brings his head closer to me and says:
– “You don’t know who I am, you Beqir”?!
– No, for sure – I told him – I remember you as a face, but I can’t define you.
– “I am Isufi” – he told me.
– Which Isuf? – I did it.
“Isuf Hysenbegasi”, mor yaho! The doctor!
I looked at it carefully. It was torn from the ears, white and yellow, as if it had come out of the grave.
-How did you get so cold, doctor? – I said – What have you suffered?
– “I spent 33 months tied to the tube of the toilet” – he told me how.
-“I was sentenced to death, but now, they returned me, from death to life imprisonment. That’s why they communicated to me; they brought me out here among you.”
– Come, enter here between us, so that you can rest and sleep – I told him.
– “I can’t go in there because I’m full of lice” – says the doctor.
I then took out a pair of changes from a small suitcase that I kept at the foot of the mattress and told him.
– Go out there to the door and change and leave your clothes there.
So the deserter came and entered between us. He had no sleep, he was born for the second time and he needed to talk to someone, after thirty-three months in a row, without talking to anyone. His entry into my mattress did not constrict us at all, although my space was only 41 cm. The desolate doctor was reduced to the size of a child.
– “Thirty-three months” – he told me – “they have exercised all the tortures that the devilish mind of man has been able to invent on my body.” Even when they had finished beating me, they gave me a piece of dry bread and then tied me up and hung me back on the bathroom pipe.”
I listened to it without stopping…!
-“Upset by the fact that I was not accepting what they were asking for, one day they put a stick in my throat, broke some of my teeth, and split my lips. I got angry with myself and I didn’t want to shave anymore, – Dr. Isufi continued – my head was at a level with the toilet pipe where I was tied, there is always moisture where the pipes join. Being aware as a doctor that everything happened as if I was infected by humidity and lack of cleanliness”.
Xhemal Kusi, a gentleman from Tirana, as a result of an incurable disease, day after day, became paralyzed, until finally, he froze and became crippled in both his legs and hands. Despite the efforts of Dr. Nush Pogut, Xhemali came and became like a piece of meat that only spoke. Finally, the doctor made a letter, describing Xhemal’s condition and giving his diagnosis, proposing his release, since Xhemal Kusi was now nothing more than a dead man who had not been put in the ground.
The commander of the prison, a certain Djipe Mersini from Vlora, and this former gendarme of Zog in his time, brought the doctor the answer that had come from the Ministry regarding Xhemal Kusi: “For the release of Xhemal Kusi, the request is not accepted, as he was a member of the Central Legality Committee”! Memorie.al