By Mark Ndoja
The fourth part
Memorie.al/ The epistolary book by the writer Mark Ndoja, contains letters from the political punishment camp of the island of Zvernec 1965-1968 and the prisons of Tirana, Zadrimë, Burrel, 1956-1960. There are 102 letters sent to his wife, Milena, often in the form of coral epitaphs, also letters to family members from Zvërnec and 27 letters from the prisons of Burrel, Zadrima, Shkodra, etc. The book has a foreword by the Zvërnec camp doctor Dr. Safet Kelliçi, who had visited Mark 15 times on Zvernec Island during 1966, who gave him literary talks in the form of illegal lectures on the island. The writer’s male-female correspondence in prison conditions is unique, despite being monitored by the State Security, creating time and events by the protagonists themselves, as the elegiac chronotope with Promethean sufferings evoking the Aeschylus Mountains of Scythia.
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I love Luli,
Write me how he came back with mom. I enjoyed your memorable meeting. I saw that you are becoming a good and smart boy. But you have to improve those lessons, as I told you orally, that night we spent together here. The letters you have sent me so far have been rare and extremely short. Why so? I believe that if you brainstorm a little more, you will definitely find out what he has to write to me, what he has informed me about from family life and your life at school.
I also write about Lek, how he treats you and others, how he plays and mocks, how he takes his tales. If you see lali Vangjon, say hello to me. If you want to write me a piece of paper, give me my address. However, never forget him; because he is your uncle, you have a very close person. Of course you will always watch, so as not to burden them in anything, in any way.
Your grandmother’s grandmother and aunt Mela, say hello, listen to their word and always love it. At home, bring good wisdom with your mother, love and protect her from the dangers of your sister, Marinta, and your brother Leka, who are younger than you. Never take them badly. Marinta is a gentle obedient girl.
In the evening after dinner, always go to the bathroom; brush your teeth thoroughly with choline, before going to bed. Otherwise, your teeth will be decayed later, you will suffer, you will be forced to remove them and your mouth will be ugly. I am ordering you once again to learn Russian. In this land do not listen anymore because it gets a grade lower than 8. Now embrace and kiss the cheeks from a distance.
Much love Marint
I hope you are not upset that your mom did not take you with her to come and see me. I believe my mom explained how I’m fine. You cannot come this time, since you had a sick leg.
How do you feel about health now? Beware, O Marines, of falling and scratching, for they are dangerous. Did you see how to swallow water? Killings and scratches often lead to even greater dangers.
Why don’t you write me longer letters, Marint? Can’t find more than 10 or 12 lines to write to me? Scrape a little more brains and you will see that you have a lot of things to write to me, a lot of things that I need to know and I would read them with great pleasure.
I need to know, it comes down to how you got your grades, how you got along with your friends, how you got on with your sisters-in-law, how you did your homework, how you behaved with Lek, how you obey Luli’s mom, how much she plays, what does he read, etc., do you see how many things you may have to write to me?
I miss you so much. I owe you that you are a gentle girl, but you should not be a bit like a bitch, as you used to sometimes and I was wrong and I behaved wildly with you, but I hope that you have forgiven your father these harsh behaviors with you, daughter and lover.
Marines! Learn a lot and behave well in school. Without these you will not be able to become a good maid, as dad and mom do, as I believe the soul loves you too. Do not be surprised by the streets, you can see the shop windows. Do not break glasses and glass at home. Be a smart and hardworking girl, a loving and brave girl, just as your unforgettable father will wish you well.
I hug and kiss your forehead and eyes away
Your dad loves you
I love Milena very much
I am fine. I have about 3 days since I started sunbathing in the morning, when the ultraviolet rays act. Yesterday at lunch I was lighter than other days from rheumatism. Later I will try to combine it with rana baths, for the cure of iodine. It is said to be an effective bath against rheumatism. Let’s see!
I spend part of the day translating Dante.
I have a lot of fun with it, but I also get tired of finding its Albanian form, without departing from the original, of respecting such a rigorous literary technique of the text, of giving taste to the literary language of translation.
The truth is that so far, I am not unhappy. The experience of possibly translating ‘Hell’ is helping me a lot.
The style itself is becoming more versatile and understandable, despite the difficulties of the original which is so encyclopedic and, consequently, too heavy at times. In short, I believe that my translation can be read with difficulty and without difficulty even by readers with a culture below average. I translate it once and then give it a second hand in clean. It would take a third hand too, but I will think about it, after all the work is done.
You are a witness yourself, that you saw me that I took Hell in my hands 7 times, beginning and end. For ‘Purgatory’ I do not believe I will be forced to do so.
Yesterday I finished the XVI song of ‘Burgator’. So far I have translated 8 songs. So now I have translated a total of 50 songs, from ‘Divine Comedy’, i.e. I’m halfway through work.
Did I upset you too much with this long literary gibberish, which to this day has no real value to you? What about me? It entertains and entertains me. Who knows, when I get to ‘Parrizi’, will he entertain me like this? I believe even there, Dante remains Dante; he will entertain me and amaze me, if I find the right words and technique, both in Hell and in ‘Burgator’.
How are you and how are the children? I have my mind on you. How are your parents and sister, and have they still found a home? How are you doing with Lek Ndoja? Is he becoming the best boy, as his father told him?
Your letter made me happy for Marinta’s good grades. I’m worried about your health and your troubles. Try and find a cure for rheumatism, because if you let it come and get heavy. You tell me you expect long letters from me. What can I say to you in these letters? That I love you like the eyes of the forehead and I do not forget you night or day? But you know this in time.
Tell you what, I miss you so much? I have said this so many times in letters and orally. How many times I remember our whole life since we first fell in love until today. My heart delights and tightens, it fills me with gas and poetry, and it mixes with poison and thorns. What can we do, dear Milena!
This is life: we mix it with flowers and thorns, with poisons and honey. And it’s not just for us. Everyone, more or less, with bigger and smaller doses of anger and joy, this is how we mix life.
So we should think like the philosopher who said: “Whoever is satisfied with what he has, he is happy”! But can you and I be content with what we have? We can also be content, until when we analyze our conscience and find in it, no crime against anyone, against human society, against ourselves or our children.
Are you suffering? They are for the people: each will take his share, of them in this life. Even Dante, who described the life beyond that he believed in, the sufferings and gases he describes there, in this life we had seen.
I believe in your character as a working woman that you will be able to overcome with some peace of mind the troubles that fell on us. Work is the most effective tool for training a person, and for the formation of his strong and tolerable character. But please do not overdo it with work.
You have a bad habit, that after being well tired in educational work, you come and break in the housework, with which you do not know how to end. Now that you are not near me to warn him, who knows how you break up with that desolate job! Be mindful not to do so, for my love, which is the only thing you believe in and the conspiracy over it can hold.
I do not miss anything here for a patient living, even relatively well. Food is sufficient and with the necessary substances for the human body. We also have a garden piece for damp. We do not lack that tobacco, which is the luxury and poison of the known. I have no other choice to write to you in this letter, which I am concluding to greet you, to wish your health and peace of mind, to embrace you and to kiss you a thousand times away, like your unforgettable husband, to he has in his mind and heart forever as his most beloved man, on earth.
P.S. For your birthday, fiery wishes and kisses in the eyes of your loved ones. I am also sending you a telegram. Congratulations and I kissed Marinta for her birthday too.
I love Lek Ndoja very much,
Dad loves you and always thinks of you, even when you fall asleep he hugs you from a distance and sleeps with you. I had to kiss my mom hard on the gills and in the eyes. Thank you for writing me a letter with your own hand. Have you become a very good boy, Lek? Mom says that after peeling the peas. So be always good. Does Luli tell you fairy tales, Lek?
And Dada, do you have a boyfriend, or do you regret having a corner? Owe much to brother and sister, that they are good. I owed my mom more than anyone. Do not forget grandparents, to be strongly beaten. When the time comes I will give you lots of cypress balls to play with. I kissed mom on both cheeks, in the gills and in the eyes, for her birthday.
Thank you for the full hugs and kisses
I love Luli very much,
I received your letter, but you have not yet sent me the grades. I look forward to it as soon as possible. I hope you did better than the other quarters. I also hope that next year, you will still be an excellent student, as you have been in previous years. You just have to think about it, only you have to think about it for now.
Your mother thinks about others today, in my absence, she works and supports you as much as she can; I believe that she leaves nothing missing. You put the lessons to work and love the school, because without it the mind rusts and does not work, you are left behind with friends and you come out very deficient in life, the game is good for developing the body, but in moderation everything, Luli!
I look forward to writing you as soon as possible a piece of paper to be on, where to tell me everything, about school completion and about your plans for the summer holidays. Firstly, I have to know from your own mouth how you are doing and how you are doing, and secondly, because a letter from you makes me very happy and relieves my boredom for a few days. You know, Luli, that I am not in a place of amusement and therefore I get bored and worry very quickly, I was missing letters from my family and children.
Many greetings and congratulations for the best and fruitful holidays. Do not forget to read daily, at least.
Your dad hugs and kisses you
Much loved Marint
First of all, I wish you from the bottom of my heart your birthday and at the same time the 10th anniversary, to wish you to come to the 100th anniversary, in full health and with many good things. I am also sending you a telegram together with my mom, that you have both birthdays.
Marinta, you delighted me with your last letter, where you showed me the last grades of the year, for which I remained pleased and thank you very much, that I do not reject the work and care of parents and teachers, but rather honors and rewards him with good grades, in behavior and in progress.
Now rest and relax because you deserve it, but do not forget to read, from time to time, some of the books that mom or Luli give you. Be careful not to play too much with that foot you had sick. Lek to take care of me, because I left you to have me for the best boy, you are his dada.
Do not forget, Marinta, to write me a piece of paper from time to time, that dad is very happy when he receives and reads your letters of love, because then it seems to me as if I have in front of you all and I enjoy your daughterly love. Say hello to my grandfather, grandmother and aunt Mela.
Lek kiss me. Now he receives the greetings and wishes, hugs and fiery kisses of your father./Memorie.al
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