By Sabit Abdyli
Memorie.al / From the day when Islam escapes, parents, sisters, relatives lose ties with it, living for years in anxiety, without knowing anything, is Islam alive or not?! At the end of 1975, when they received the bitter news about the death of Islam, the sisters wept in secret, in secret they burned and burned, to learn that Islam really passed away, or maybe it is alive, if it died, did anyone bury him, where his lifeless body rests, what happened to his heir…?! “During my stay in Tirana, I learned; why was I with a ‘different character’ from the area where I grew up, in Albania, I learned that Albanian blood flows in my blood and I am proud of that. Look, he tells me, taking off his jacket and showing me the tattoo, the double-headed eagle, on his left arm, while in the car, he hung the Albanian flag.
While I was talking about the first arrivals of Albanians in New Zealand and among the arrivals I mentioned the name of Islam Kulla, the interlocutor Enis Baçova, who came from Tirana, with New Zealand citizenship, a master’s student at the Law School near the University of Auckland, he tells me: “Do you know the story of this person you mentioned”?!
Yes – I tell him – he was from Korça, at the age of 16 he escaped first to Greece, in 1948 and then with the group of Albanian emigrants, he arrived on May 1, 1951, here in Zealand, now deceased.
I was informed about this by Petrit Alliu, a person who himself escaped from Albania, first to Istanbul and then traveled on the same ship with Islam Kulla and other immigrants.
It must be admitted that each of these immigrants, as a result of the savage persecutions of the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, were forced to take every risk into account and escaped as best they could. After all, who hasn’t heard and read their creepy and painful stories.
“I have been dealing with the history of Islam for almost a year, Enisi intervened. – His story is very painful. From the day when Islam escapes from them, parents, sisters and all relatives lose ties with it, living for years in anxiety, without knowing anything, is Islam alive or not, and on the other hand, the communist regime imprisoned them and persecutes them mercilessly.
The big sister of Islam was kept and tortured for 8 consecutive months in the interrogator. Three days after being acquitted, she dies. Her family members were not allowed to attend the funeral, the last farewell of the deceased. The towers were hit in the most barbaric way, by the maelstrom of class war, treating them as enemies and opponents of the state, for 50 years in a row.
At the end of 1975, when they received the bitter news about the death of Islam, the sisters wept in secret, in secret they burned and burned to learn that Islam really passed away, or maybe it is alive, if it is dead, did anyone know buried, where his lifeless body rests, what happened to his heir…? With the opening of Albania, the granddaughter of Islam settled in Belgium.
From Belgium, the granddaughter’s daughter, Erisa, starts a search to learn the truth about Islam Kulla. When I found out about this initiative of Erisa and was spiritually touched by this painful drama, I got down working to help Sister Diturie, Erisa’s grandmother. I was looking for the heir of Islam, named Arben, I found him named Richard…!
After many vicissitudes, almost a year of research, in the civil status offices, in the Archives of the Department of Internal Affairs, I succeeded and found the data that: Islam married Patrica Walton, in 1966. That same year they were married boy, who is registered under the name Richard Xhemali Kulla, so not Arben as thought.
In 1974, Isalmi and Patrica divorced. In 1975, Islam was separated from this life. After the separation, Patricia changed her son’s name, from Richard Xhemali Kulla, to Richard Thomas Mulvena. This change caused me a lot of trouble during the search, but in any case, on 29.3.2006, the puzzle was clarified, I managed to have the address and phone number of Richard, the heir of Islam Kulla.
I call Richard on the phone. He was surprised. He was speechless. However, he recovered quickly… I remember him saying – one second Enis, I’ll get a chair. He was overjoyed. Among other things, he told me that since he was a child, he wanted to find his roots, his trunk, his blood, his tribe, but he couldn’t.
In unsteady tones of voice he concluded – this news is the sweetest, best, most expensive gift for my 40th birthday, which I am preparing to celebrate on April 2nd. So, one more reason for Richard to be doubly happy on April 2 – I thought and, agitated, I could barely hold the telephone receiver in my hand.
However, now Richard is in a relationship with Aunt Diturie, cousin Erisa, and is getting ready to leave as soon as possible to his aunts, cousins, people of his blood in Albania, who have been waiting six decades for news from the distant island and God’s goodness wanted this news to be happy for them”. – concluded Enisi..
Richard Thomas Mulvena, recently returned from his visit to Albania, where Richard met his father’s family, his aunt, and his cousins and, excited by the reception, speaks with admiration and enthusiasm about all that he has experienced, seen in Tirana.
“My mother, but also my friends, always told me; who can you be with this character, unlike others, abducted, compassionate, angry, free-spirited, close to people, ready to come to the aid of the wicked, the defenseless, I never knew how to I was telling them how to answer them.
During my stay in Tirana, I learned why I had a “different character”, from the area where I grew up, in Albania I learned that Albanian blood flows in my blood and I am proud of that. Look, – he says, taking off his jacket and showing me the tattoo, the double-headed eagle, on his left arm, while in the car, he had hung the Albanian flag.
I will return to Tirana, I will be there for the New Year, blood is not water. I am glad that I am no longer an only child, but I have many people of my tribe, I boast of such a sensational story of my father, my grandfather, I enjoyed when they told me; “the pinjolli of Isalm Kulla”. How many times, – continued Richard, – I remember the moment when I met my father, for the last time.
I will never forget the warmth of that meeting. He hugged me and caressed me, he spoke sweetly to me, as you can’t imagine, that’s why these days, I will start the procedure for the return of the surname Kulla and I will keep it with honor, for the rest of my life. I will also learn the Albanian language. I owe these to my father…! Let me also tell you this, after the visit to Tirana, a more dynamic, more vigorous and very interesting life has begun for me” – Richard told me at the end of the conversation. Memorie.al