By Vasil Kati
Memorie.al / Vasil Kati were born in the village of Labovë e Kryqi in the district of Gjirokastra, in 1920. After finishing primary school in his hometown, he went to continue his studies at the Lyceum of Shkodra, where he came into contact with members of the Communist Group of this the city, which was ruled by Zef Mala. During the period of the country’s occupation (1939-1944), he returned to the Gjirokastra area and dealt with the organization of the anti-fascist resistance and the partisan war. Immediately after the end of the war, his friend and close friend, Nako Spiru, who at that time held the position of the Minister of National Economy, called him to Tirana, to work together in the department that he led, making him one of his closest associates. After working for several years in that sector of the economy, Vasili was sent to the Soviet Union, as the representative of Albania in Moscow near the KNER, and then to the People’s Republic of China, as the representative of Albania in Beijing. In the 60s, Vasil Kati was appointed and served in the post of Minister of Foreign Trade and as Deputy Minister of Trade, duties which he exercised until 1975, when Enver Hoxha struck the so-called “Hostile Group in the Economy” headed by Abdyl Këllez and Koço Theodhos. At that time, together with Këllez and Theodhos, the two deputy prime ministers of the Albanian government, who had covered the departments of Economy and Finance for a long time, Vasil Kati and Kiço Ngjela were also arrested, accused of being their collaborators. After several months the investigator, where Vasili is tortured inhumanely by the head of the General Investigation, Major General Nevzat Haznedari and his deputy, Koço Josifi, Kati appears in court together with Këllezi, Theodhosni and Kiço Njëla and is sentenced to 15 years in prison . He served his sentence in several camps and prisons, such as in Spaç, Qafë Bari, Burrel, Ballsh and Zejmen of Lezha, and he was only able to be released in 1990, on the eve of the collapse of the communist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha and his successor, Ramiz Alia. Likewise, since his arrest, the family (wife, son Adriani and daughters, Kozara and Pranvera), was exiled to the village of Ndrmenas in Fieri, in a marshy area where she lived and worked for years, in miserable conditions. After the 90s, Vasil Kati put his memories on paper, which he later published in the book of memories. “In the waves of life”. Vasil Kati passed away in 2002. The writing that we have selected here for publication is taken from his book, “On the waves of life”, where he publishes some of the letters that he sent to and received from his family at that time who was serving his sentence in the prison camp of Ballshi.
BROWSING LETTERS SENT FROM PRISON
…I was brought to a new place of residence. After a complete seclusion of six hundred and ninety-nine nights and days. I am located a few kilometers from you, some sympathetic fellow sufferers tell me. It looks to me like they come from the back of the moon. I don’t know how you are. Notify me urgently health…
Try to come to the meeting, but we must restrain our emotions and not our content. Otherwise, traumas and stresses will be added to us and will create other worries and sorrows…!
Ballsh, September 1977
(Excerpt from the first letter sent from prison)
…From far in the horizon I stood out. I told you in the letter that we should keep each other, but I, the first one, my eyes got dark from longing and my ears rang. We kissed and hugged like never before. Mouths open, but words did not come out. Only hearts understood each other.
I was very worried that MOTHER did not come. You told me she was sick. I didn’t believe it. Let him write me a letter with two fingers, because I know his handwriting.
Those few minutes turned into seconds. It seemed unbelievable to us that the husband would meet the wife and the children would meet the father. Describing these moments would require the pen of a genius.
The children I left as April flowers seemed to me to resemble the reddish colors of the leafless season. They are consuming the most beautiful years of life in difficult conditions, but life must be lived in all circumstances.
The little one, who I was pushing with the stroller, ran and got into my breast. There was the nest, like swallows that never forget…!
Ballsh, October 1977…! Some fellow sufferers tell me that Mother is very ill. Tell me the truth, how is her condition. I found out that he lost consciousness when he heard the verdict of my sentence. I am very worried…! To be so close and the Mother not to see the son and the son the Mother!
Ballsh, November 1977
… I knew from afar that you would tell me the bad news. You looked like you were walking. Your legs were numb. There is no greater sorrow than receiving the news of such a disaster, when you are locked up in prisons. For a few minutes we consoled each other with tears and tears did not stop us. You ran away and I was left alone with grief.
She sacrificed her life not to be separated from us. Although told to stay away to avoid exile, she chose self-sacrifice and died in exile.
It was virtuoso and noble. As he walked slowly, he always spoke quietly. She was loving and always sweet to everyone. It was very difficult for Jo to say. She raised us and our children in her “nest”, which she kept warm and clean. Do you remember how she used to carry school bags and books in her bridal bag?
Do you remember when he told you that he would keep your initials in his heart as a talisman? She had been so careful with us. The eldest son went to help the exiled Father. Another son died in infancy in his chest. While us, the other three, made us get a higher education.
Her married life was short. Our father, who followed the Kurbet to educate us, could not return to his homeland. After the war, when we were employed in the capital, she barely left the village. He was homesick for the stones of the house. He’s used to being woken up by roosters.
He wanted to live among the shopping and chirping of birds, to hear the fruitful gurgling of drained springs and the lowing of cattle. She was proud to live among nature surrounded by the beauty of ancient and medieval civilizations.
On the hill in front of the house she could see the castle more than two thousand five hundred years old; she came every Sunday to the Byzantine church more than one thousand years old. The rare relics left since mythological times near Labova i Kryqi, together with the fascinating nature around, had ennobled his soul.
It felt foreign in Tirana, but when we left, we thought that the whole of Albania would be ennobled. Sick, they exiled her and she could no longer see her sons…!
Now rest in peace, away from harm. You should surround her grave with laurels. Maybe one day we will be able to send her to the cemetery of the village where she was born, as was her wish.
The brilliance of the Mother’s soul will never fade from my eyes…!
Ballsh, December 1977
…On each of your birthdays, I try to draw your portrait. Unquenchable longing pushes the pencil and he obeys. I would like to send you bouquets of flowers, but I can’t find the flowers here…!
I write your names on the palms of my hands every day. Then I see them and it seems to me that we are talking together.
Years go by, but they look the same to us, day and night always look the same to us, so do winter and summer. The frost is not melting.
Sometimes I envy the birds, which fall asleep at night among the branches. I try to close my eyes, but I can’t sleep. I think of you, my children…good and virtuous. Keep your soul clean; because it relieves your tired body, it also affects the softening of despair, bitterness and any evil that you are suffering.
When you were little you resembled the tender shoots of the thorn, now the strong branches of the gorse. Before your states I remained only as a photographer, but protect your Mother and my wife, who followed the example of Onfalia and Laudamia of old.
Although with the years weighing on my shoulders, I will try not to burn like tobacco, so that we can gather together again, like the vines, which climb each other…!
Zejmen, February 1982
My many loved ones,
Souls, no matter how far apart, communicate.
So we will preserve family love and compassion, like the daily sunrise. We want the evening to resemble the morning, Venus, and not the nebulae that left no trace.
Sometimes, I daydream, as if nature were forming colorful rainbows. He threw one leg at you and one at me. This would create a bridge of connection.
I wish the little boy a happy birthday, which is coming up. Celebrate it, as if nothing happened to us, to remember it for good, in life without problems. In every step he will take, take the example of the mountaineer, who, in order to climb the rock, sticks the stakes very carefully.
Little by little, they also like the works of the old and blind poet of antiquity, where he describes the difficulties of the heroes of that time. There is also the pain of the past to remember.
In the photo, it looks like a bouquet of violets. Like the morning dew, which does not let the plant wilt? Day and night I hold them in my breast. I want you to stay warm…!
It is not said that our future is covered by clouds. There will be clarity. Like the blueness of the heights. Even children will resemble fresh lilies and not shriveled roses.
Happiness is never absolute; with all its beauty it is broken from time to time. Even in clear skies, clouds sometimes appear suddenly. But among the mists he finds unoccupied corridors. Some thinkers say:
Where there is pain, there will be gas. Let’s hope…! Memorie.al
Neck-Bar, March 1985
(At the time of writing this letter, Vasil Kati’s mother was no longer alive. She had died in exile, in Mdrnenas of Fier, some time ago, in July 1977).