By Reshat Kripa
The twelfth part
Memorie.al / “Sometimes, when difficult trials fall on a child’s head from the earliest age in the secret recesses of his soul, a kind of scale is born, a beautiful scale, with which he weighs the affairs of this world . Feeling himself innocent, he submitted to his fate without making a sound. I didn’t cry at all. He, who has no reason to be scolded, does not scold others”!
(Viktor Hugo, “The Man Who Laughs”)
Dedicated to family and society,
Continues from last issue
RETURN TO THE FAMILY
December 11, 1955. Last hours of stay in the camp. I waited to hear my name called. I looked once more from the silos, where I had lived for so long, the kitchen, the infirmary, the shop. Next was the mine. Now I would leave it all. The policeman called my name. I took the bundle of loot on my arm and headed for the command offices. There the spoils and mine would be checked. They had searched me when they put me in prison. They were checking me even now that I was going out. The internal regulation contained it as such.
The officer of the watch was filling out the release form. When he finished, he looked me in the face and said:
– “You will submit this to the passport office, near the Department of Internal Affairs, Vlora, within a week.”
– “Hey hell! – I thought – I have to go to that door again”?!
I had very bitter memories of that place. I didn’t even want to hear his name.
– “You have an order from me,” continued the officer. – Put a lock on your mouth, otherwise you will come back here again”.
He was right. I felt that I was really getting free, but I would always have someone behind my arms, waiting to take my leg somewhere. That made me thinks, I was out on parole.
I took the den with clothes and went out on the highway, near the entrance gate to the camp. It was getting close to noon. A group of family members were waiting to meet their relatives. I was finally free. I had a great desire to shout out loud:
– “I am free! I am free”!
I didn’t dare. I didn’t know, I was really free. Nearby was the camp surrounded by barbed wire? Pain lived inside him. A man who had just finished the meeting approaches me and asks:
– “Where are you going”?
– “In Vlore”.
– “You have a very long way to go. I don’t think you’ll make it tonight. Inside is a ‘Gaz’ who brought food and will return to Tirana. I will go there too. Come and rest at my house and tomorrow I will accompany you to Vlora.
His generosity touched me so much. He was right. I could not arrive in Vlora that evening. I decided to go to Tirana, to Drita.
– “Thank you, but I have a sister in Tirana”.
– “Like that?! Very good. In which neighborhood does your sister live?”
– “In the New Bazaar”.
– “I live on ‘Pine Road’. We are close to each other”.
It wasn’t long before the car arrived. We got into her body. It was raining lightly, and it was getting heavier. By the time we arrived at Burrel, it had turned into a downpour. But we felt safe inside the covered body. Along with us, there was a young bride with a son no older than eight years old. He was from Rreshen. She had been on a date with her husband. While the fellow traveler from Tirana, had met his brother. I knew both of them. They were good people. The man of Mirditor had one more year to do, and the tyrant, five years. However, I didn’t open up much. Prison had made me sober. It was the period of the strangest events.
We arrived in Tirana around eight in the evening. The car stopped near the train station. We got off and went to pay. The man who was with me said something to the driver.
– “How much does it cost”? – asked.
– “No ALL for you. God bless him”!
– Thank you!
I left with the impression that there are no good people left in this world.
– “Let’s go now”! – said the man and took the den from one side.
He accompanied me to the gate of Light. There we parted. I thanked him and went inside. Dr. Kirçiku was coming down the stairs with his wife.
– “Good evening”! – I spoke.
– “Good evening! – They answered. – Where are you going”?
– “Sisters, Light”.
A spark went off in the doctor’s mind. He looked at me intently. Then he looked down at the pile of clothes and realized everything.
– “Don’t be Reshat”?
– “Congratulations”! – cried all joy, shaking my hands.
He turned back and shouting above called:
– “Light, siharic, siharic! Go out and see who has come”?!
The sister came out surprised by the doctor’s call. He looked at me and stood for a few minutes without speaking. He didn’t recognize me. We had not seen each other for five years. He had left me a child and now I was turning into a grown man. The years in prison had made me look older. But when he saw the suit he had sent me, he let out a cry and ran up, calling:
– “The soul of the sister! Sister’s little brother”!
We hugged with an unprecedented longing. I was extremely shocked. After so many years, I was freely hugging a family member. I felt the family warmth.
– “Now go inside and congratulations one more time”! – said the doctor and left.
In the room I met Hysen and the two daughters, Oshka, almost eight years old, and Ora, three and a half years old. After a while we went to the kitchen. Light set the table. He had cooked beans with pork. Then he brought out a plate, with apples and oranges. I had five years without tasting any fruit. I don’t know; but that dinner seemed the most delicious I’ve ever tried. After dinner, Hyseni took the girls and went to the bedroom. He wanted to leave us alone, brother and sister, to talk.
We stayed until late. I told her about my life in prison, while she told about her family.
Fatushja was in Vlora, with her father and mother. They had transferred him back to the city. Dawn with Besnik, both in Rinas, the first free, while the second imprisoned. Liria was transferred to Ulëz, while Qamileja continued in Tirana.
– “Tomorrow morning, we will go to Qamileja”, – said Drita
– “Wouldn’t it be better to tell him to come here?” – I told him.
I was afraid to go to her house. Her husband was deputy minister of Industry and Mines. I was afraid that my presence there would cause him some harm. At that time, I didn’t even think that only after a few months, as a result of the Tirana Conference, he would be dismissed and exiled to Selenica and Vlora, where his sister would later come.
Qamileja came the next day, together with her two children, Anita, who was Oshka’s age, and Rezarti, a little over four years old. Anita went to play with Oshka, while Rezarti clung to me, as if we had known each other for a long time. We spent that day together. In the afternoon, we made two more visits, to Aunt Fitneti and Aunt Zyhraja. In the evening, we went to talk on the phone with Fatusha. We notified Liri and Besnik by telegram, while we sent the news to Agimi with one of his friends.
* * *
The next day I took the train to Rrogozhin. The light wanted to hold me, but I couldn’t. In addition to longing for my hometown and family, I had to be there, within seven days, to appear at the Internal Branch. I had taken a seat by the window. I looked at the cities and wondered. I had seen them when we moved from one camp to another. But then, I looked at them with the eyes of a prisoner, while now, with the eyes of an ordinary citizen. To my surprise, they looked quite different.
In Rrogozhin, I took the bus going to Vlora. When we crossed the Bestrovo Pass, the view of my city unfolded before me. A melancholy came over me. Nostalgia, took my soul.
– “Here is my city! – I thought. – My parents, Fatushja, maybe even Neri are waiting for me there”.
Involuntarily, my mind went to her. Was he waiting for me?! Why did he wait for me?! She didn’t promise me anything. It was a puzzle, which you will solve soon. The bus arrived at the station. It was the same one, where we climbed the last tract, the fatal tract. I remembered Dhimitri, the one who denounced us. What had happened?! Later I learned that he was in Moscow, for higher studies at the branch of the Aviation Academy. He had received the reward, for the service rendered.
My father was waiting for me at the station. He hugged me, kissed me on the forehead and said:
– “Welcome to the family, son”!
We left. We had only taken a few steps when Fatushja came running towards us. Tears covered her face. I was also very touched. My eyes got teary. My heart had given up.
– “Leave your tears home”, – said my father.
He was a strong man. He had faced many difficult situations. He was almost sixty-three years old. However, he knew how to control himself. At home, mother was eagerly waiting for us. Hugs again, tears again. I also met the grandmother, uncles with their wives, uncle’s children.
At that time we lived in the house of Thoma Shyti, in the “Varosh” neighborhood, in front of the building of the former Department of Internal Affairs, which had already been turned into a Polyambulance. The branch was located in a new building, at the entrance of the city. They had turned our house into administrative offices and then housed other families.
We had two rooms in that house. One was larger with dimensions of 4 X 3 meters. It served as a bedroom for my father, mother and me, as well as a waiting room and living room. The other room was small, 3 X 2 meters. It was Fatusha’s room. Uncle lived in the other two rooms.
I was entering another world. Prison had transformed me. From a laughing and cheerful child, I had turned into a serious boy of few words. I felt like a stranger in my own city. I felt like I didn’t know anyone! The first few days I did not leave the house. Where should I go?! Most of my schoolmates were in university. I didn’t know what attitude they would take. Would they approach me, or would they stay away?! I felt very shy. Prison had transformed me, made me a man closed in on him. Jorgua was a soldier, while Myrtezai was settled in Peshkopi. The only relative, it seemed to me was Neri, but I didn’t know what attitude we would hold towards each other.
My father and mother were standing next to me. They tried to make me forget the prison period. They conducted the conversations very tactfully. They never looked at me, what I had done. I understood why they did such a thing. But closest of all, stood Fatushja, my sister
She played the main role in my adaptation to the new life. He took me to the cinema and the theater, the only places of entertainment that existed at that time. She used to meet me with her friends, without being shy. The sister was part of the elite of the city’s intelligence. It was in that part of it, which was called; “the new Albanian bourgeoisie”. There were many educators, doctors, engineers, economists, but only a part of them were part of the real intelligentsia. In short, she belonged to that part of Albanian society, which preserved the nobility of the class from which it came and its best traditions.
I felt a great pleasure when I talked with him.
I had not been released more than two weeks. The fatushka told me:
– “Tonight we will go to the dance organized by the teachers of our school”.
The evening was the best. I introduced myself to my sister’s colleagues. Among them I want to mention Odyssene from Palasa and Lumen from Elbasan. They were a wonderful couple. The couple Shezai Borshi and his wife, two old school teachers, made a special impression on me. They had a special way of dancing, a classical way. It was fun to watch. When they danced, the others would sit back and let them solo.
I was shy. I felt like a stranger in that environment. Back then, my sister used to take me dancing. Her close friends also did this. I noticed that there were also some who looked askance at me. They even threw some rumuz. But the sister pretended not to hear. Such evenings were often organized at her school.
One evening he had booked tickets to the theater. The theater of Durrës had come with the part “Fisherman’s Family”. Went. I admired the excellent performance of the actors, but I felt a disappointment with the text of the drama. I was still influenced by the prison mentality. There, everything was seen in two colors, black and white. I could not agree with the presentation of historical reality that was reflected in that piece.
Such a thing disillusioned me. So at the end of each act, when the hall erupted in applause, I stood in silence.
– “Clap your hands because it’s catching your eye”, – said my sister slowly.
Instinctively I started clapping, without even knowing why. When we got home she said to me:
– “Why didn’t you clap your hands”?
– “I didn’t feel like it. In prison, they taught me history differently…”!
– “I understand you; maybe you are right about everything you think. But you have to adapt to the real environment, keeping your character. You have to see the reality, as it really is and not leave a reason for the past tragedy to repeat itself”.
She played a major role in my revival. Herein lays the greatness of her character. This thing is dedicated only to her. So, little by little, I began to acclimatize to the world around me. I recognized him as he really was, full of intrigue, servility, formalism, despotism and arrogance. But at the same time with nobility, courtesy and dignity.
The family heritage, the positive experiences that those remarkable men had taught me in prison, and the right path my sister set me on, shaped my character. I chose the path of honesty, the path of love for people. But, at the same time, I did not forget the way I had come from, to distinguish between evil and good, between morality and spiritual decadence.
Fatushja took a special place in my life. It is the influence of those difficult days that we spent together in those years that influenced the formation of this belief. In my conscience, no one can take her place. She was the symbol of selflessness and sacrifice for the family, but especially for us two brothers, that fate had pushed us into the abyss. She was not separated from us for a single moment, from Vlora to Bulqiza and from Maliqi to Rinas, until we returned to the bosom of the family, until we returned to life again. Later, she became our teacher, to prevent us from taking any reckless step that could cost us dearly.
Only a few days had passed since my release, when they came from Uleza Aliu with Lirina and Agimi from Rinas. We missed each other. We only lacked Besnik. Ali and Agimi stayed only two days. They had to go to work. Freedom lasted two weeks. He also had with him the little son, Ilir, who had not yet turned a year old.
From the prison mates, only Klitua came, with his sister, Lushe. It was a pleasant evening. We stayed up late talking. Clitua was a man with broad horizons. We talked about literature and arts, about science and technology. In these conversations, my sister’s high level was also noticeable.
Klitua also talked to me about Neri. He knew my feelings towards her. We had often discussed this issue when we were in prison…! They had lived near each other for some time.
– “When I told her about you, she jumped up for joy” – he told me. – He wanted to learn everything related to you.
He was silent and did not speak again. I didn’t tease him further either. I didn’t dare, for fear of hearing some news that would shock me. I wanted to let my fantasy float in her dream. Memorie.al
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