By Reshat Kripa
– “People who have never known dictatorship and tyranny find it easy to give in to the rhetoric about freedom, forgetting the simple and terrible reality of willful oppression where it always exists”.
Giovani Sartori: “Once again for the theory of democracy”.
Memorie.al/ Robert Krasta, had made it a habit that on every anniversary of his parents, he would go to the cemetery and place a bunch of flowers on their grave. He would look at the picture stamped on the porcelain and start a conversation with them. He had been doing this habit for a long time. The conversation seemed to soothe his soul. He told them about everything that had happened in the family. Sometimes, when he found difficulty in something, he asked them for help, and it seemed to him that they answered him. Perhaps this, could be some guess of his own, yet he believed it.
Could there be more pain for a father and husband? How could God allow such crimes to be committed? The world has both angels and devils. And the devils have conquered the Albanians. They have cast out the angels, even God Himself, and He has forsaken the people who denied Him.
– Son, return to the ground! – spoke mother Gjyla when she saw the expression on her son’s face.
– In which land, mother?
– On your land.
– Where is she, where? I don’t see it.
– Here where you and I live. There are people here too.
– Monster people who want to eat each other.
– No son. There are good people everywhere. You will meet them and get to know them.
Agron looked at his mother and after thinking a little he asked her in a low voice:
– What about me? Do you know how I am?
– You are also a mother’s son.
– Do you know what I have in my conscience?
– I said.
– My best friend’s life. I killed him.
– You have not killed anyone.
– Did you forget Stefani? I killed him. I wanted to save Lumto and Rida. But I couldn’t.
– Come son, come to your mother’s arms. Tomorrow another day will be born…!
He jumped into his mother’s arms and hugged her like a child, whispering through his teeth:
– Will it be born?
The next day he went to the cemetery. He knelt down and shed tears in front of their grave. Kiss the pictures on porcelain. Talk to them. He placed two beautiful bunches of flowers that Syrjau had given him the moment he left. Syrjai wanted to accompany him, but he had not allowed her. He wanted to be alone in his pain.
He had spent ten years almost alone in prison. With his solitude he had been able to cope with the difficult situation of those years. With his loneliness, he wanted to cope with the current pain. Solitude seemed to soothe him. She had become the symbol of his life.
The pain that night was too great, almost unbearable. If those two criminals were alive, he didn’t know what he could have done. But God had punished them, at least that’s what was whispered, and he didn’t know where to vent the anger he had inside. He wanted to empty himself, but he didn’t know where.
His voice came from the depths of the soul and there was no way they could not hear him. He knelt down next to them and began the lecture, a lecture that would have raised even the dead.
– Congratulations, Rida, I came. It will come even when years pass. We will talk together. We will be together. Do you hear me? I want you to judge me too. The death of my best friend weighs heavily on my conscience. But I had to. I did it to save you from the hands of those sadists. But I couldn’t. I was handcuffed. My friends have abandoned me. They don’t trust me anymore. I don’t know how to act. You tell me.
There are moments in a person’s life when it seems as if his closest people, who have long since left this world, are always by his side. They talk to him, advise him, show him the path he should follow. In them he finds support, he finds solutions to the problems that arise.
Agroni was also in this state that day. He believed that his loved ones would really help him. He talked to them. It seemed to him that they were alive and talking to him. He rose from the grave where he had been kneeling. He had made a decision. He would continue to be alone, as he had been until now. He would keep the pain inside himself. He would not tell anyone about what had happened. She would be the secret of his life. He would take it with him when he went to the grave.
With these thoughts, he left for home.
After a few days to adjust to his new life, Agroni appeared at the employment office at the District Executive Committee to look for a job. The clerk, without looking at him, handed him a form. Agron quickly filled it out.
– You will come in two weeks, – said the clerk as if talking to the wall.
Agron returned when the days were completed.
– We are sorry, but we have no vacancies for your profession. If you want, you can go as a worker in the Agricultural Enterprise.
Agron knew well where the hammer was hitting. The famous class war was in full swing. He could not escape from it. She would follow him for as long as he lived, foot to foot. There was no other way. He could not live without work. Money was needed and work was the only source of it. He had no choice but to accept.
The clerk filled out the job acceptance form and handed it to him. Agroni presented himself at the company’s management office. The deputy chief of staff, a woman in her forties, looked at him intently. It looked like a familiar face. It was thought and then remembered that it was the former chief engineer of the city’s electric company, who had been convicted a few years ago. He looked at the worksheet and felt sorry for him. He remembered the sad story of his family.
– I’m sorry, – he said, – but the only thing I can do for you is to send you to the investment department. You will be better there than in agriculture.
– Thank you very much! – answered Agroni politely.
He took the letter she gave him and left for the sector. When he got there, it was past twelve o’clock. He knocked on the gate.
– Come in! – A voice was heard from inside.
– Excuse me, are these the offices of the investment sector?
– Yes, why did you bother?
– They sent me from the personnel office to work in your sector.
He took out the letter that the chief of staff had given him and handed it to him. The person across the table picked it up and read it. Extending his hand to the newcomer, he politely said:
– I am Astrit Duka, the head of the sector, while this friend here – and he pointed to a man standing next to him – is Brigadier Robert Krasta. Welcome to our sector. What profession do you have?
Agroni found a warm environment in that office. He thought a little, as if embarrassed, and answered:
– I have and I don’t have.
– What do you mean by those words?
– I used to be called Agron Canaj, now I don’t know if they know me by this name.
– What do you mean?
– Yes, I’m an electrical engineer, but I couldn’t find an empty place for this profession. I also worked as a mason, but I don’t have any category.
– How is it possible? Where did you work?
Agron did not speak. He was wondering if he should say that he had been in prison. Finally, he put it down and said in a low voice:
– It’s been almost a month since I was released from prison. I worked in the camps as a mason, but fortunately, I have no documents.
Astriti and Roberti looked each other in the eyes.
– Why were you punished?
– A mountain of accusations, sabotage, agitation and propaganda, terrorism and who knows what else.
A silence followed his words. No one spoke for several minutes. Meanwhile, Robert intervened:
– Where did you do the prison?
– In Spaç, Burrel and Qafë Bari.
– Do you know Besim Murat?
– We were friends. Where do you know him?
– I was also a political prisoner.
– How old are you?
– Five. How about you?
The conversation could have continued for a long time, if Astriti had not intervened:
– Leave this conversation now. What people do you have in your family?
– Only the old mother.
– You are not married?
– I was once. I had a wonderful wife and a rare child.
Astriti thought that his wife would have separated him when he entered prison. But Agroni continued:
– They are now gone. They flew in the sky.
– Forgive us! Our condolences. What’s your name? Oh, sorry!
He remembered the letter sent by the personnel office. He opened it and wrote in the personnel book:
“Agron Bexhet Canaj, worker first category, date of birth March 15, 1930, place of birth…”!
He noted the name of the city and residential address.
– Well then, – he said – tomorrow you will start work on the palace we are building at the entrance to the city. You will be there with Robert. We have good friends. You will also find other good people. When we start wiring, you can work as an electrician. Be there at 6:30.
– Thank you!
– Do you want me to make you a coffee? Let’s drink it together. We usually keep the coffee tools here, – offered Robert
– With pleasure.
Robert took the jezva, threw coffee, sugar and water and put it in the electric furnace they kept there. Giving it to his friends he said:
– Cheers! – answered Astriti and Agroni together.
– Don’t be shy, – said Robert again. – We are your friends. As long as you come to work with us, you will be our friend. We don’t want to know about your past because, after all, we are also part of that past.
Robert’s words warmed her. He felt kindness in those words. It had been a long time since he had felt something like this.
– I need good friends and I believe that I will find them in you.
The office door opened and Faith and Yllin entered.
– I didn’t like our mother-in-law, – said Besimi. – You just finished your coffee.
– Remember the dog and get the stick ready, – replied Roberti, then pointing to Agron, he said:
– You don’t know him?
Besimi returns, looks at Agron, who had not noticed him until that moment, and jumps on his neck.
– Agron, is that you? And when was he released, friend?
– Two months ago.
– And Ylli, why don’t you talk to him? This is your friend, Agron Canaj.
– Can I speak to him?
– Now leave those fantasies and hug yourself. Leave them in the past.
– Who are the fantasies, Stefani whose bones are not even known where they are?
The progress that remained under the stones of the gallery, or Gazmendi who is still languishing to this day, hospitalized for tuberculosis?
– The man with a big heart knows how to forgive.
– Of the six friends we were, only two are left, me and this one. Gjergji continues to be sent to Burrel prison. Who is to blame for all this?
– I am to blame. I broke down before the unprecedented violence. But do you know what violence was done to me?
– Wasn’t it practiced on us?
– I do not believe that there can be greater violence than what I suffered…!
– What is this great violence?
– Can I show it? No, she will die with me. – He was silent for a few minutes – I’m leaving. I see that I’m redundant here – he turns to the Star – I’m sorry! I say this honestly. – He extends his hand, which he refuses – Goodbye!
– Goodbye! Don’t forget, tomorrow at 6.30 at work, – reminded Astriti once again.
The star was silent. Agron left thinking.
– What was this whole scene you developed? – asked Astrit
– Better not to talk about this matter anymore. – replied Ylli
– Agroni is the chief engineer of the electrical company who was sentenced many years ago, together with Ylli and other friends, – Besimi continued the conversation. – While he was in the cells of the Security, his daughter and wife died. The girl jumped from the balcony of the psychiatric hospital, where she was admitted, while her wife poisoned herself. They accused him of having denounced them in vain when he was arrested.
– Perhaps he could not endure the torture – said Astriti.
– Perhaps and this can be. – Faith followed his reasoning – But I want to tell you one thing. As far as I know, he was a perfect intellectual and a special person. He never provoked anyone. His only friend was any book he could get his hands on. He was lonely. This is probably from the loss of his wife and daughter.
– Are you saying they forced him? – said Robert.
– However, I stood by him. Because of this, I also quarreled with Gjergji, Ylli, Gazmendi and Parparim. Even one day, to prove that I was right, I did something on the spur of the moment.
Robert was driven by curiosity to learn as much as possible about his new friend.
– What did you do? – he asked.
– One day I told him: – Agron, I will run away. Will you come with me? – He looked at me surprised. Maybe he took me to get. – How will you escape? – Told me. I replied: – In gallery number four, there is an exit that ends outside. In the early days of the mine, this exit was the entrance to gallery number one. Over the years, the galleries were joined and this entrance was closed with a mass of stones. I was able to open a small hole, enough for a boatman to pass through. – He did not answer me.
After two days, he told me that he did not agree to come. – Save yourself – he told me – Life comes only once and you have to save it. – That’s how the days passed. I expected to be arrested for this stupidity. But that didn’t happen. When the appointed day passed, he said to me: – Why didn’t you carry out the plan? – I thought about it and in the end, I told him the truth. Do you know what he told me? I got this opinion as a gift from my friends.
– So he told you? – asked Robert again.
– That’s right.
The star, who until those moments had remained silent, listening to the conversation of his friends, intervened:
– They are all bones. He himself accused us in the eyes of the company’s employees, the day we were arrested.
– However, I advise you to keep it close. He is an excellent man. You will learn a lot from him. Star, call to mind! Don’t lose your friend. Even more so now that you will be working in a brigade.
– I cannot. The faces of friends who are no longer appear before my eyes. I don’t know if they will forgive him.
– I assure you that yes.
– I don’t know, I don’t know, – finally said Ylli, thinking.
Besimi and Ylli left talking to each other.
– What did the new guest look like? – asked Astrit, Robert, when they were alone.
– I do not know. You don’t know a man with a date. But, according to Faith, he must be a good person.
– Right? Then we have to keep it close.
Roberti and Astrit were close friends. They had known each other since childhood and had maintained their friendship even when they grew up. Robert had served five years in prison for agitation and propaganda. Distributed anti-communist tracts in the city, together with two other friends of his age. They were fifteen years old, in the first grade of high school. But even after he was released from prison, Astrit stayed by his side. Fate brought them to be in the same company. He dragged him to his sector, where the brigadier had placed him.
Indeed, Robert was very neat and conscientious. He had finished high school with top honors. They had not allowed him to continue his higher studies. The sign in the biography followed him step by step. His fate was that in the army, in the labor department, he had learned the trade of bricklayer. This is how he escaped from being a simple worker, which was much more tiring and with less money. He was one of the best specialists in his profession. Such a thing helped him to move forward, as far as the regime allowed.
As for Astrit, he belonged to a family that could be considered neutral. They had no one with either the communists or the nationalists. During the War, they had remained unmixed on either side. They had seen their work. His father had been a small merchant. He collected cattle skins and sold them. This was his profession. With this profession, he fed his family.
He was an honest man. So was the son, who had graduated from the high school of construction and obtained the secondary technical title. For this reason, they had appointed him in charge of the investment sector in the agricultural enterprise. Honesty led her to maintain friendship with Robert, regardless of his biography. Together, they had all kinds of conversations without fear. They had almost the same thoughts. This mentality led them to maintain a friendly attitude with Agron. From the short conversation they had with him, they formed a good opinion of his character. Memorie.al