From Dalan Luzaj
The first part
Memorie.al / Marriage, this sacred act in the life of every person that comes from generations and is passed on, remains so in every place, in every time and circumstance that it takes place. It unites two people, often unknown, creates a new family and realizes the continuation of life on earth, with all the good and bad things that time or the fate of each couple will bring. After we finished dinner, we all got comfortable in the living room at Dad’s house in Chicago. When my father left the Motherland, as a lost part of the War, my mother was pregnant with me. He hosted us in Italy and now we are together after 50 years. We had talked before about the most important things from our lives, a little from his.
– Days ago, you told me – said the father – about the marriages of your brothers and sister, tonight we told about your marriage. The life of our family is a drama with peaks, where the events often took the form of the unreal and went beyond the norms to be accepted as true by those who did not have the luck of our class.
The author of all this bitter drama was the father, but he remained loyal to his ideal and the Motherland until the end. All his sacrifice was called “betrayal” and we had to pay for it, so I didn’t want to talk about our bitter past anymore. Every time we showed episodes from his life, he would wrinkle, tremble in the storm of fate, so much so that it seemed that a worry was added to him or a part of his life was shortened, but still very attentive.
– Speak, son, – continued the father, – we are all waiting. I am sure that even your children do not know about their parents’ marriage. I haven’t seen any wedding or bridal photos.
– I met my wife early, she was a student at the 11-year-old school “Halim Xhelo” in Vlora, and she was in her second year of high school. A year later we announced our engagement. I was a teacher in the villages of Tepelena. Our family lived near the “Tregtare” school in Ujin e Tohtë, where you used to be a teacher.
Communism had given the signs of an incurable disease, and in its declining age, it began to rage. In the foreground, they were the inverted class, parallel to him and his sons. Anyway, we were a shooting range or a chance to listen to others. The class war was the end of communist hell.
People lost their most human feelings, fear and terror disintegrated a whole people, introducing the hatred of enemies, into every family to rule. They created the new man who unfolded the character inside and outside the Fatherland.
We talked about the exile from Cold Water to Sherishte. Sherishta is the bitterest chapter in our family. The drama began in 1944, but the blows were given to our class, one after the other and always stronger, possibly until physical extinction. Here, in this period, the reason for my marriage was born, which I will elaborate on further.
I was a soldier in Gjerven of Berat in N.B.U. These Military Agricultural Enterprises were created exclusively for the sons of declassified families. High rate and quality work. When the soldiers did not meet the work rate, the army captain stood on his head with a lantern in his hand at night, until the rate was met.
In the army, I had 20 months without going home on leave, although in our family, there were many events and deaths that justified the leave.
The family of the fiancee, even though he had spent 5 years of internment in Savër of Lushnje, when his father escaped, the engagement with me was the reason for deportation from Vlora, to the farm of Llakatund, Lubonjë sector, in the middle of the forest, in the sheds where the farm sheep wintered.
Three women in the middle of the forest. It must be said that there were also about 6-7 other families there. After we had arrived in Sherishte, three women, two sick, were informed that they do not have the right to move outside the village. If they are caught, they will be punished!
They used to tell me that a Cham friend of ours, a good friend of difficult days, one autumn midnight, had come to them after midnight and had brought them a purebred goat for milk. The two older brothers continued their sentences in communist prisons.
I learned these things from time to time parallel to time, a letter or a person would find the path to bring the news from exile, treating things as completely normal, without any slurs or facial signs that the evil had no end.
I had learned from afar that, we were mobilized as soldiers from Tepelena, where we worked as teachers and the life of the village had two scenes, that of ordinary villagers and the horror was those who were brought in exile.
I had 4 months left until the end of my military service, and all kinds of troubles troubled me every day as the end of the army approached. It was one day in September of 1969, when I was a soldier in Gjeroven, and the postman brought me a letter that my mother sent me, in which he wrote exactly the truth.
Mother loves you very much, like all mothers, but there is a difference, that I raised you with a pickaxe and a shovel and the cabbage was never shared on our table, without filling the belly with bread. I have fallen into a deep hon, how often I am not sure if it is real or a dream. The lady, she is very sick (the lady, our grandmother) has stopped eating for two days.
Leonora (elder sister) has started to develop epilepsy and often leaves; she does not know that she is interned. Yesterday, the chairman of the Council and a woman caught Leonora fleeing to the village, they brought her to the house where we live and outside the house, they tied her with a rope to the cut trunk of a tree, until the ambulance of the Psychiatric Hospital arrived took. I was not allowed to go with him because I am interned.
I have forgotten the two prisoners. I don’t know what to do, son. To take care of the Lady, who is getting closer to the end day by day, to graze the goat, or to go to work so that we can be fed? My health is not good. These are the things that compelled me to seek your help. You’re a soldier, but maybe they’ll give you a couple of days off, that’s all
Done some work, which must be done because the time has come.
I kiss you, Light.
I took the letter and came out from behind the bedroom. I don’t know how the whole sky darkened, a cold current passed through my body, as sweat dripped onto the paper.
I continued the story, without raising my head to look at my father. I looked up at him for a moment. Oh God…even today I can’t tell the color of his face. It was neither white nor yellow, it could be a combination of both, but it was still close to the color of the earth, a lifeless face. We were looking eye to eye. He understood my concern.
– I got it, son… I read the thought. Bitter…very bitter this letter, throwing it in the Adriatic would poison the plants and fish of this sea. What did the desert do? What do you do?
– I had never once approached my superiors for permission, but this time I was forced to do so.
The ward consisted of 30 soldiers, all children of outcasts. The department commander was Stavri Bozdo, a good man; he had fallen from the branches and ended up a party candidate in N.B.U. I put the problem to him briefly.
– I heard you, – said the commander, – we will put it in the collective, if they approve it, and you can go.
The next day, he performed the daily rite before the soldiers, and then drew their attention to them.
– Fellow soldiers! Soldier Luzaj has a serious family problem. Do you agree to go with a 24 hour pass?
Lazja, a peasant from Baldushku in Tirana, who sat in the first row and took care of the ward’s pigs, did not approve.
– Laze took the pig, what do you say…do you agree?
– Comrade Commander, by the great God, what can soldier Luzaj do with 24 hours, by the great God, do 4-5 days.
– Laze pig, quickly go to the stable to the pigs and take care of them more. Commander Stavri spoke to him.
After getting the 24-hour exit ticket, I left for Berat and had to do 5-6 km. road on foot, to arrive in the city. On the way, I was thinking about our poor mother, our saint…!
All her life, hell. She stoically faced the suffering, the nervous and economic struggle, without eating, without clothing, the most difficult jobs and the tortures of the executioner, Petri Hakani, but she never surrendered to her, she never extended her hand even to the people closest to her her.
These were the “reactionary” women, despite everything they lost, they remained proud, a symbol of honor, sacrifice, love, loyalty, courage and bravery, who with their attitudes raised the bar of the class they belonged to.
Vlora, the most beloved city, when I arrived, seemed to me like a city that I had once passed without being able to get any of its characteristics. Hate is ugly, but there comes a day when it gets into your blood and darkens your eyes and thoughts. What is the city’s fault? What is the fault of the Motherland? It was a clique of thugs who told that people what future generations will call a fairy tale.
To get to the village faster, I took a short cut through the olive groves, climbed the hills and went down to the plain of Sherishta. Sherishta used to have 10-15 houses and was a manor of Kanina. Now the village had 150 houses, all of them coming from the surrounding villages. I watched him approach.
It was built on the side of the hill, divided somewhat into three quarters. Our cousins from the Luzaj side also live here in the field, outside the village. The village was built entirely on the road, which was called the yellow line.
While walking, I looked to not see my destiny, they say that it is ahead of every man who leads in life, but our destiny would surely have been killed before I was born.
I went uphill and fell into the village tap. There, three women, two of whom carried a small cauldron of water on their heads, while the older one was waiting for her container to be filled, and had entered the depths of state politics.
– Excuse me, – I addressed the older woman – where does a family from Vlora live?
– Those internees?
– Yes, – I answered.
– Here…go up here and the house opposite.
– What do you have them?
– I am the son of that family.
As soon as I went up some 20-30 steps, the house appeared. A stone building 3 m. x 3 m. Without a fire place, without necessities, without light, the booty was all outside arranged somehow in the sun and rain. For the door of the house, a piece of compensator connected with wire was made instead of hinges.
I was getting closer, but I don’t know who was in command of the body, the legs. There comes a time when a person in life, at certain moments, where fate strikes him, searches with his mind (without ever finding) the end, but the future is so hateful, that the person stuck in a tight spot does not know which choice to make.
I pushed open the door of the room. This building, before our people went, served as a tavern. An old woman used to go every Friday and light a wick cup with burning oil. On both sides were your two beds (of your marriage), the grandmother did not feel me. I approached and kissed him, spoke to him and began to rub his hands and shoulders. In vain!
She breathed infrequently and far away, the only sign she gave me was a little squeeze of my hand. Never in my life could I build her spiritual portrait. Love, the most human feeling, had cooked her soul and blood. We grew up with it, because mother was at work all day. She spoke to us as if from her heart. What more could the desert do for us?!
I realized that she was living in her last days. In a moment of calm inside that holy place I heard in her gurmaz…o Isuf…o Isuf!
I spoke to him. I spoke to him again, in vain! She didn’t answer. What was that call of hers!? Where did that voice come from?! I am sure that cry was the last of this life.
– My mother and your grandmother – said the father – there was no school. By living with a gentle and wise man, as my father was, having the gentleness and courage of character at the foundation, she benefited greatly.
In life, he measured things several times before cutting them. After her father’s death, she arranged all the affairs and always came out victorious. But there was no way to escape the communist chain. She passed out without any of her three children by her side.
I went outside and looked for my mother. Was he at work or grazing goats? Poverty was the strongest noose that the whole people had in their throats. But what was real poverty?
This is shown better than any other by those voices that have remained alive from those exiles, where not infrequently people did not have corn bread (hybrid) to give to the children when they went to school and they enjoyed it like a cookie sugared, without letting a single crumb fall to the ground. Those mothers who squeezed their stomachs for their children and don’t forget the friend’s part, the honor of the house. Memorie.al
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