By Mark Ndoja
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.
The next issue follows
LETTER FROM THE ISLAND OF ZVERNEC
Much love Milena,
I received your letter of June 21 in time. I also got the package along with it. Thank you for the accuracy of your letters and the things you send me, you caused yourself and your family difficult economic hardships. I have always told you in letters and orally, that you should be careful not to spend for me, because here I have general living conditions, even to some extent even for the cursed tobacco, which is a habit of a luxury, without which I was never able to pass it. You in your letter tell me that you will come by the end of this month. This thing, of course, which you also know very well, makes me very happy, especially when you say that you will bring me the little Lek, to see it once with my own eyes after so many months. You know very well how much I love and touch him, for this little one who still does not know what is bad and good! However, you take good care of him and take all measures to ensure his life and health in this long and difficult journey, for his young limbs. If you do not see fit, do not bring me, definitely leave me at home. It’s better for me to be upset with him than for the little one to suffer any harm; it is better for him to be sad for his father in the end, because his sadness is easy, foggy and passable, and any illness or shock from the road can cause serious health consequences. The judge makes it better to think about the life of our youngest son, to whom today, you and I have the greatest responsibility. Welcome then, whenever I see you with my eyes and embrace you with longing and with our fiery, unyielding love as it has been from time to time, it will remain until the grave.
You have received my penultimate letter, and you rightly complain that the letter was a bit short, but not as much as you do. However I will try never to repeat this guilt against you again. I have written the next letter that you will receive before this, but will you be satisfied with it? I’m afraid not, since there is more than one page in it for my translation of Dante, which I am successfully pursuing and literary issues; I know very well, that in these conditions where we are very few, you are interested. I do not care too much, but I do it to entertain the soul and I remember that you, too, feel some pleasure when you know that your husband is doing a job that entertains him spiritually and makes him feel bad.
Now I have a small complaint with you too. That last letter you delayed me out of your habit had bothered me for several days. You probably do not know what the mind of the one who is isolated from the world is like. His mind is never calm and balanced; he has all kinds of thoughts, he falls into melancholy very easily, he feels in his soul a kind of emptiness that even he himself cannot determine where it comes from. So be careful to keep me with regular letters, approximately at certain intervals. Of course as much as you can.
I thank you for your greetings to your father, mother and sister. He gives me heartfelt greetings and wishes for good health and to be as calm and happy as possible. You tell me you celebrated Marinta’s 10th birthday. You did very well. Rise as much as possible the only maid we have. Never make him sad! Maids are like that flower that says “flowers do not touch me”! You are a woman yourself; you are a fully educated educator. I am confident that he knows this psychic characteristic of girls better and deeper than I do. I also celebrated his birthday here in my grief, but I celebrated your birthday a little more, oh my adorable friend, who was never good at making life happy, as you once expected; on the contrary, I poisoned you so much that you would have had every right to not be able to bear it. This is a deep feeling that comes out of my soul for you, oh dear! Please do not take me as flattery, nor cry of my soul, nor as a cry of despair. Quite the opposite! I have a clear and calm conscience even towards you and the children who are suffering. I am a small man: such I was born and such I remain, but with my thoughts and feelings I have clear accounts; nor can I do anything to change them. Those who really deal with mental work are convinced only by logic and law. This is how I grew up, this is how I worked and fought with my little talent, for the good of the society, which I value above myself and my personal destiny. Others are of little importance to those who think with their own brains, judge and say things the way they feel, regardless of personal consequences.
Here these summer days, we are having a good time quietly, sunbathing and doing a little intellectual work, although the heat and the mosquitoes did not leave us so calm. How are you with your health? My sunbathing has taken away my rheumatism a bit. If you had the opportunity, you can also sunbathe from 6.30 until 10 in the morning, because then the ultraviolet rays act intensively. Heliotherapy is one of the proven treatments, because it is known that the sun is life-giving on our planet. It was a mistake of mine and yours, that we did not use the sun bathe in time, even when we had the opportunity. Luli greets me a lot and tell me to write.
Maybe you will receive this letter on the eve of departure to come to me, to wait with open arms to embrace and kiss the eyes of my lover, from whom I see your pure and fiery soul, who loved me and loves me forever, with a roaring flame.
Always yours to kiss away
Lek, say that dad kisses him 1000 times!
Much love Marintë,
I received your letter dated July 5th. Thank you for the honor that reminds me sometimes more rarely with any short letter! I’m glad you’re healthy. I am looking forward to seeing Lek once after 7 months, because I saw you and Luli sometimes and I look forward to Luli again with my mom.
Now that you have summer vacation are you reading any books? Always read, to learn new things and not to forget what you have learned. Love Lek very much, as your youngest brother, take care of him and protect him from dangers. Thus it will be understood that you will be a good and loving sister; so I will love you even more.
I believe Mom will take you with her sometime next time she comes to see me. I miss you. I remember that night when you came here you saw me and called me from afar: “Daddy!” I always remember you and send kisses from afar. Be a good maid, obey her and be a worker, do not quarrel with Luli, do not quarrel, because you have a brother and then also for the reason that this way, you will give Leka a bad example, a bad upbringing. I am not writing to Luli and Leka’s mother, because I am waiting for them to come and see them with my own eyes, to talk and get upset with them.
You, Marinta, loved your mom very much, kissed her on the cheek and did not say a word to her, as it seems that she sometimes makes mistakes. Now, when he returns from the meeting with me asks what I will tell him about you and kisses him, kiss him 100 times for himself and for your father, who loves you very much, like his unforgettable daughter. Greetings to my grandmother, Ermela’s grandparents, hugged and kissed you because you have a boyfriend and they did good things for you.
From afar, your unforgettable father hugs and kisses your eyes
P.S. Marinta, do not forget when mom returns to send me some postage stamps and some envelopes for letters.
I love Milena,
I am in very good health and I am spiritually happy after my meeting here with you and the boys. Especially the meeting with Lek left an indelible impression on me, which I will enjoy for a long time. This guy is going to be very good, according to my predictions; has a sincere and loving spirit, cheerful and fantastic, endowed with creative talent, in other words. He has a tendency to become a very good man. I believe that you too more or less have frowns, these qualities in this little creature and lover of the flesh of our blood, of our heart and soul. Love her, protect and teach, as much as you have the power, O Milena, my faithful friend and lover. I will be very upset about him, but I will save him in the two photos you took me with and I will try to get bored with him from afar, poetically and philosophically. You will probably continue to accuse me, that I love Luli and Marinta more than you. This will never be a fair charge. I loved him more than I laughed at home, because he was the youngest, because I was entrusted with the role of his growth and well-being, since you were absent from home for more than half a day. Now the whole role of his physical and spiritual growth belongs to you and especially to you, who are his mother and teacher. Try to remove every shadow of melancholy, do not spoil it, and always learn the truth, according to his age, according to his mental abilities to understand it.
Luli’s physical condition pleased me. He is growing healthy and physically strong. Spiritually he is closed, which I do not like. Take care that he is passionate about school and books and the weather to come, to come out with at least all grades 10 and 9, otherwise I will be upset and poisoned, because it will be the opposite of his father, who in this age where he is now, he got the best grades of the class, the highest awards even by passed from 2 classes in a year, because I had lagged behind my peers, due to family tragedies. Who does this man want to look like? Study constantly, help tactfully, and rebuke mercilessly when you owe it!
As for Marinta, I have full confidence that she will become a good maid and take care of her, lady as much as she can. These are about children, oh dear Milena! And do not be angry if I write too little about them. You are a mother and a teacher, as well as I who am a father and I have been a teacher for a long time, and therefore I know very well what difficult tasks we have before society and before ourselves, our sons, for their future, for their physical and moral life, for the difficulties that they will face in their future life, that Luli is coming to the door. As for you, I have nothing else to write to you, but to praise you for your endless love, to your husband even in his misfortunes, but to thank him for the beautiful memories that you have always left to be written in my soul, which should rise to my fantasy, to laugh and sing full of feelings of poetry and music, to remain immortal works of art, for the generations to come. But what can I do to the Muse, my lover, who does not want to touch me once spontaneously, on the wires of this wonderful love and to fully satisfy me, my aesthetic requirements even the first of these requirements, spontaneity, ie naturalness, musical fluency, without effort and artificiality. I was told the truth for the same reason, I was never satisfied, nor was I enthusiastic about the love poem of the great Petrarch. I know you would love to let me write something beautiful, about our love. Know that I like it just as much, but I have never found the thread of this feeling that boils in my soul, uncensored, indefinable, and then it goes away and makes me dizzy, not once or twice, but often times in my life. Believe that it is so! Who knows, maybe these feelings wait a day, an hour, a moment of real and clear inspiration, simple as life itself, to be concretized in one or more songs, or even in a few single verses. The fact is that now that I am away from you, I feel greater longing and love for you than ever before. I fall asleep and I have you in my eyes, I sleep and I see you as a dream many times, but not always in a joyful and lyrical way. Who can say, orally or in writing, how much I remember day by day? Even in the cypress trees here, where I am just walking, or lying down for a nap, under the shade of the lands and in the monotonous song of the August lizards, fantasy and feelings, awaken in the mind of your duty your lover, the eyes you’re sweet and petty, and the passion of your unforgettable love.
Please do not forget me with explanatory letters, about the condition of the whole family and especially about your health and spiritual condition. Send me these letters as often as you can at regular intervals. You instructed Marina to write me a long and beautiful letter as soon as she knows. Take it easy and do not rebuke him too much, for the mistakes he makes unintentionally, wretched!
Many greetings to your parents, Paul of Kristaq, many greetings to your sister Ermela. I always remember them for good. I so on my part, so I think and act. As for them it’s their job how they think of me!
Now wait for my hugs and kisses, you loved her and Lek Ndoja, the best boy, Luli cavalier and Marinta convinced and loved her./Memorie.al
From afar leads the unforgettable hugs and fiery kisses