From Spartak Ngjela
Memorie.al / Spartak Ngjela was born in Tirana on July 11, 1948, while the origin of his family on his father’s side is from Zagoria in Gjirokastra, and on his mother’s side, from Pojani in Korça. After finishing high school at the “Petro Nini Luarasi” gymnasium in Tirana (where at that time most of the children of the nomenclature of the PPSh senior leadership studied), Spartaku attended higher studies and graduated in Law at the State University of Tirana. After graduating in 1970, Spartak was appointed as a lawyer (legal advisor) at the district courts of Vlora and Durrës and in 1973, as a scientific worker at the Institute of History at the Academy of Sciences of Albania, newly opened at that time. In 1975, after the arrest of his father, Kiço Ngjela, (former Minister of Trade for more than two decades, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison with the so-called “Economic Hostile-Saboteur Group”, where they including the two deputy prime ministers Avdyl Këllezi and Koço Theodhosi, as well as the minister Vasil Kati, etc.), Spartaku was also arrested, while the family was interned in Selenica, Vlora. Likewise, a few years later, his brother, Sokol Ngjela, (Linci), was also arrested and sentenced “for agitation and propaganda against the popular government” and during the 80s, all three male members of the Ngjela family were sentenced in the camps and prisons of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha and his successor, Ramiz Ali. The arrest and conviction of Spartak in 1976, on the charge of “agitation and propaganda against popular power”, did not come simply from the conviction of his father, Kiço Ngjela, but because he himself was one of the “problem children” of the Block. ‘ of the senior leadership of the PPSh, which was proven by the dignified attitude he maintained in camps and prisons during the entire period of serving his sentence (1975-1991), such as in Ballsh and Burrel, where he was constantly in open conflict, not only with the prison authorities, but also with the senior leadership, since from time to time he sent letters to the leadership, such as the one about finding the minutes of the founding meeting of the Albanian Communist Party (where Enver Hoxha did not appear as general secretary), or the letter sent to Ramiz Ali in 1988, where he requested the rehabilitation of Father Gjergj Fishta. Njjela’s stay in camps and prisons, in addition to many of his co-sufferers, is also confirmed by a secret document of the Operative Worker of the Burrel Prison, Piro Nuredini, sent in 1982 to his superiors, where he made several characteristics, for some of the most problematic prisoners for the regime, who were serving their sentence there (such as: Pjetër Arbnori, Spartak Ngjela, Abdulla Sallaku, Gjet Kadeli, Daut Gumeni, Avni Aliko, etc.), where he writes: “Spartak Ngjela, furious against the Party and against command. He is really honest; he dies for England”. Spartacus, along with his father, Kiçon, were released from prison in early 1991, the last prisoners of conscience to be released from that regime’s prisons. In the early 90s, Spartak Ngjela got involved in political life, first with the Legality Movement party, where in the Stability government in 1997, he held the position of Minister of Justice for several months and in the following years, for several legislature (2001 – 2009) as a deputy and senior official of the Democratic Party of Albania. On December 12, 2008, Ngjela founded the “Law and Justice” party, which he led as its chairman for several years. Likewise, during this period of time, in addition to his law firm as a lawyer, Ngjela has also engaged in the field of journalism, being present with his writings in the daily press and has published several books, such as two novels: “The Cave of murder” (1994), “Helena R”, (1999), “A woman’s revenge” (2018), or “The decline and fall of Albanian tyranny – 1957 – 2010” (2011), in several volumes, etc. The writing that we have selected for publication here is taken from his book, “The Cave of Death”, which is based on real events lived during the period of the communist dictatorship in Albania of Enver Hoxha, in the first years after the war.
Continues from last issue
Excerpts from the book “CAVE OF MURDER”
But Mark Ashta and Katerina Pogu, who ran away that night, had been hiding in a cave for three hours, because everything went wrong and they could not reach the border. But the place where he was hidden was safe; for this you had unwavering faith Ashta. And there they would spend the whole day, to try again the expected night, because during the day it was impossible to move.
Eh, all those night hours had come to mind, all that advance then! Here, Mark Ashta did not forgive himself for this, because it was his fault. That half-motivated haste had cost them dearly, even though Ashta knew the place. Even it would have been better if you had not known him so well.
I was too greedy because of the great trust I had in my acquaintance, Ashta thought firmly and went back to everything she had done as an action that night: the kidnapping of Katerina from the castle (a perfect action), then the furious drive of “Jeep” -sit, he went and drove forward as if happy (no, it was not my fault for driving any other time, last night) and leaving the car was done exactly where it should be, there was no more suitable place than that: no delay on the way up to that point determined before, but that’s when the dilemma appeared. – Eh, why did I change my mind! – well, why? because he had to walk across the dry stream bed.
That’s how he thought about running away all day, only then, when the moment came, he changed his mind, – that’s how the devil pushes you! – that maybe you were right about this: what was that sneaky moment that took his mind to change his path! No, he had actually found the hill path easier than the stream. His bed was all stones that would tire Katerina.
And how can a woman walk through all those stones! Therefore, he left the stream and took the path of the hill. Eh, how many times had he crossed that hill on foot during the war! Indeed, the road took half an hour, but there was plenty of time and the pursuit had not yet begun. So, he immediately took from the hill, climbed to its top with all of Katerina, and then hung the lingthi down the other side, which he knew was a thicket divided in the middle by the border of the two states.
– Oh, how I forgot that there were two hills! – Don’t forgive yourself! Although the cave where they stayed was a safe place. Well, it was up that another hill; and he walked and walked and shrunk, he couldn’t see. And the hour flew by; until at last a line of water had brought him to himself. No, he was taking her to another hill. That he had not left the car exactly where it should have been. Night. Darkness maybe!
However, the mistake had been made: from that hill the border went away. Then he saw the clock. The time was 02.50. Katerina did not speak. It was quite impossible to get across. It took more than three hours. The day would catch them walking. No, no, they needed a place to hide, otherwise they would be lost. Where should he go to wait the next night?!
– This cave saved me! – that right then and there, he immediately remembered. And it was not far. He had to enter the bed of the stream that he had left behind, from there, walking all the way, and for a few minutes, maybe fifteen, take shelter in that cave. Eh, how you had grabbed Katerina by the hand again and turned you back through the darkness. – Only this black well darkness after being evil, my obstacle in this way!
– But Katerina walked the same way as him, even when they finally entered the dry bed of the stream, it still took three quarters of an hour for it to dawn. – You saved me, old man. You saved me, Nikola! – He is a shepherd, a shepherd in any case from these parts that you showed him that lonely hideout.
And now he was sure that none of his followers knew that place. No one. Not even from the locals. The shepherd was a nomad, and the cave was miraculously occupied, even with a stone door, hand-made just for him. When they entered the cave, it was 04.13.
– What time is it, Mark? – asked Ashta, Katerina with a sighing voice, as she was, lying with her head resting on his lap.
– Half past eight, – he answered without looking at the clock, because at that moment he had just seen it. – Get up a little higher, – he told her then and, after grabbing her by the waist, lifted her even higher on his lap.
– Actually, it had been a few minutes since the pains had stopped, but still she felt tired, as if crushed and with a general catalysis. He didn’t even have the strength to speak. His breathing was labored and his mouth was constantly dry. And the little water that was left in the aluminum gourd, Ashta tried to carry it as long as possible. He put his hand on his forehead once more and sighed: the fever had increased. His forehead burned like hell.
– He looked at the clock once more: it was 20.39.
In the meantime, not in vain, he was overcome by an anxious concern, because he was not liking that fiery state at all. What should he do? He always tried to convince himself that nothing bad would happen. Here, and a little while yet he would be taken away with all of it; he would take her in his arms and in forty minutes they would be on the other side. There, he would then be given immediate medical help.
And how could a man die in two hours? Impossible! At least now her pains had ceased, and he had made her go on the road at half-past nine. In the meantime, he had determined the entire route and for that, he was now sure. He wouldn’t even enter the bed of the dry stream, because he knew very well that there, behind the cave, began a goat track that stretched all the way up to the stream bed, right there, at the edge of the border. And he wouldn’t even enter the valley, because he would keep to the right in a place full of bushes.
Those who followed him, in fact, precisely for this reason, closely checked the bed of the stream, well, so as not to let him enter the bushes. But they, it was understood, did not know the path he would follow.
I’m sure, Ashta thought as she completed the entire route outline in memory once more. As for Katerina: she was easy. He would only take the revolver with him. – Catherine! – he spoke to her to tell her the time of departure, happy of course: but she did not answer him. Sit in silence for a while. Only her lethargic breathing could be heard through the cave.
– Katerina – he said to her again and this time she only let out a slight moan and after a while, with an almost faint voice, she complained of pain again. But Ashta didn’t mind her words anymore. Suddenly, she felt her right hand, which had been holding her under her chin until then, get wet.
A chilling wave immediately ran through his entire body. It’s not blood, he thought instantly as if caught by a snake, and instantly lit a match. It was the first to light since they had entered the cave. Let it be done, he said through his teeth and all the anxiety, he looked right at her chin.
A woman’s yellow face: like meit. He also looked at his hand. Blood, he said then completely as if driven and extinguished the match as if in a rage, was he to blame for what he had seen. – Catherine! – he spoke to her with a trembling voice, but she still complained of pain.
Now it’s all over, he thought, not forgetting the blood he’d seen: two red strands coming out of the two corners of his lips and hanging down under his chin. Her face the color of death. Right now, everything had to be decided. Time had moved forward, so in order to save the being it was necessary to move along with it. I’ll take her in my arms and pull her forward, he said to himself, and instinctively put his hands behind her back. Bile Mend got up with him in his arms, he was so determined. But her haunted voice that was suddenly heard, ruined everything:
– What is this squeezing noise that is ringing in my ears…! Mark…oh Mark! I can’t anymore… please close my ears because I’ve never heard such a noise…!
He’s got a fever, Ashta thought and immediately got carried away. Well, now everything was in vain. It was clear that she had entered the hot hole of fever, so it was crazy to think about leaving the cave in those moments. Everything had to be waited for there, without being able to help him, when he heard him say:
– Oh Mark, what is this mistake Mark…!
She was in the bracket. On the way to escape…! From a huge pile of skulls, he thought rapturously, and with both index fingers took her ear holes.
Katerina Pogu, died there at midnight all the same: without coming out for a single moment from her bracket and with the hemorrhaging that continued until the last minute.
When his pulse dropped, completely overwhelmed and without any thought, Mark Ashta looked at the clock:
The time was 23.53.
At exactly this time I left the office last night, he thought. Fate was terrible. He sighed. No, no, he should not fall into fatalism, and maybe he was right when he thought that man is in control of his own destiny. However, death is always death, and it was close to him now, as close as ever.
Why did he die? In all likelihood, from appendicitis. And now it was slowly getting cold. As long as it took the temperature of the stone of the cave, Ashta thought, and he did not tear his hand from her: he kissed her and cried, he kissed her again and she cried again. He couldn’t be trusted, and several times himself and everything seemed to be on the verge of a powerful explosion that could shake the whole world.
Everything had been lost, or nothing had happened at all: impossible! How can a man die even like this, and can’t a tremor be expected to close this stone lair and disappear here in an airless hell? She is dead again. Since there can be no heaven, therefore, apparently, hell is the only thing we know for sure. One hour, two, three… until dawn!
Once it was taken on foot.
That he was beginning to feel calmer and somewhat more focused. But in the middle of the cave, he was thinking:
Now I was left all alone and without anyone on the face of the earth; without anyone in this world! Memorie.al