By Eugjen Merlika
THE PAINS OF THE ORPHAN
(My mother, instead of crying with laws)
Memorie.al/ A stack with and in the shape of a pyramid, covered with flowers. Beneath a coffin with a cross above and inside your body lying with the rosary in the hands of a small red flag, with a double-headed vulture in the middle, above the chest. The last act, the last scene of your earthly life will thus remain ingrained in the memory of those people who, on a sunny October day, with teary eyes and sad faces, accompanied you on your final journey. An end, a beginning, or a long, continuous walk through dark tunnels and paths of light?
You are already part of the other world, you have crossed the goal of endless life …! Your soul ascended, in search of light. Down here we were left with your memory, with an emptiness and pain in my heart. The pain, this constant companion of the inhabitants of the Earth, was expressed that day perfectly by Don Mario, that you respected him so much, because he understood us better. He led your last mass, that of saying goodbye to a world in which for you it, the pain in soul and body, was almost always present.
You faced death as a child, to prematurely kidnap your father, to fill your eyes with tears and your heart with pain. The pain of longing for mother and brother made a nest in your soul, that a series of things as absurd as it was low, made you part with them forever at the age of 23. With pain in your soul you would hand over the house where the bride came and dreamed of happiness, even though it was a time of war. The dream was short, too short. He was killed by gunfire and people with red stars on their foreheads. You went out on the street with nothing, because one of the “leaders” of the war would take the house. It was a decision taken in the name of a “new world”, which would rise above the ruins of the so-called bourgeoisie and began with the most prominent form of robbery, that of violent robbery.
You, my mother, the orphan who grew up with the sacrifices of a simple teacher, were the prey of this violence committed in the name of “eradicating the exploitation of man by man.” You were her prey and when one day he, with whom you had connected your life, did not return home and you were forced to seek all the military commands of Tirana, to find out where your husband was held in handcuffs. How much pain you experienced in those days, when you saw it crumble and the last illusion over you the world was overturned. That violence had taken away your freedom as well. It would become for you a vague mirage that you would constantly follow without ever catching it, like a child following the balloons that the wind rises, to push them in unknown directions.
After four years of marriage, alone with a two-year-old child by the hand, you were faced with a fundamental choice of your life: to go back, abandoning everything, good or bad, to connect with the place of father, husband and to your son, to return to the land of the dreams of the first youth, to resume another life, perhaps not easy, but certainly calmer and with more pleasure, or to continue “to fall into hell stroke I saw me ”. The choice was not easy; it was like the famous Hamletian dilemma. On one side stood the first family, the country of birth, the unlimited opportunity to advance in the field of knowledge and academic life, for which you had given sufficient evidence of aptitude, comfortable life and above all freedom. On the other side was the second family, severely crippled by the long and violent absence of her first, a life that was predicted to be extremely difficult in a country to call foreigners, even enemies, and a life that required a dose enough heroism to face.
What prompted you, my mother, to settle the watery sea instead of the tranquil harbor? Or were those arms outstretched towards you more powerful than all the violence of the State? Or did you want to confirm the prophecy of the famous Miarka, who had foretold to your mother a life too turbulent for you since you were a child?
You chose hell because the principles by which you grew up and formed as a person call it the path of honor, fidelity to your spouse and the word given. The fragility of the heart did not allow you to abandon your creature. An orphan rose without a father’s pet, left a young bride without a husband’s pet, and cannot imagine your son an orphan on the streets, without a mother’s love, without her pet. It was not in your nature to abandon, to avoid responsibilities, the easy ways. The burden of a house fell on your back. It was not a simple house; it was a family in voice over which the wrath of the victors would know no bounds. But you considered it, you believed in your youth, the power of love, the grace of God and the protection of Jesus Christ, and you did not hesitate to choose His ordeal. He was tall and ruthless.
It started in a hut in Shijak and ended in another in Grabian, passing through the infamous Tepelena, Vlora prison, Tirana Brick Factory and in almost all sectors of the largest internment center in Albania, the Lushnja farm. The state of “people’s democracy” did not spare any of its cruel means to turn you into a scapegoat of female resistance, because you were the young of Mustafa Kruja, you were Italian, you were with school, you were Catholic. The champion state of racism and darkness, loaded on your shoulders the piles of forest wood, to take to the ladies of the officers of Tepelena and the stone slabs to lie on the cobblestones of the city.
You stood, you did not give up, you did not deny your father-in-law, the generosity and nobility of whose goals you had known yourself, nor your origin, nor your convictions, nor your faith. Maybe the tormented look of the child waiting at the entrance of the camp gave strength and courage, maybe the daily prayers of St. Mary eased the burden, and maybe the respect and admiration of the comrades of the misfortunes introduced new lymph into your veins every day. ..!
Thus passed the years for you with their heavy weight, between the mountains of Tepelena and the fields of Myzeqe, through the bitter winters and scorching summers, with a white handkerchief over your head and a bitter smile on your face, with a heart bursting with longing for the mother, for the husband, sometimes and for the child. The years went by taking with it health, body strength and disappointed hopes. One day he brought my father home and for you, he changed something because the burden was reduced, he was separated. Despite the various difficulties, several years passed that seemed to be calmer and more painless. After a forced separation of fourteen years, that time was a return to the intimate world of a love, which had passed fourfold the test of fire, so it had to bring peace, so much dreamed after the storm. But the pain continued for you, my mother. The cause was me, with the aspirations for life and the walls being placed on me from all sides. The eternal class war was already spreading to the next generation and, for the mothers, the wounds became even deeper…!
There came a time fraught with lightning strikes, which struck incessantly on the heads of people of our family and social circle. The anxiety that every day you were born could take your son, now a husband and father, away from the family, was for you a real torture, before which the burdens of the Tepelena trees faded. That stifling atmosphere of the second half of the ’70s did not leave you to enjoy the only pleasure that life forgave and that you deserved so much, that of the role of grandmother with those little creatures who came to renew your family. Soon those innocent angels would suffer the fate of their father, they would be left without a father, because your son had to pay tribute to communism, he would go to extract copper in Spaç of Mirdita. For you, history repeated itself, but a quarter of a century had passed and you no longer had the health or strength of youth. How much life hit you in those years! Fate and the State leaned hard on your shoulders, already bent, with diseases, deaths, coercive measures, endless persecution…!
One November day twenty years ago you sat down and kissed the ground at my feet, thanking God subtly for doing a miracle by bringing me home. Living together would reduce the pain and increase the gas they brought, like birds in the spring, children in the family, despite the State violence that continued unabated.
Hopes for better days began to loop, but you did not believe them because it seemed impossible to “kill the cuckoo”. Communism in our country continued to be savage and bloody as in its beginnings. How much Adelina’s suicide affected you, because the Police State required her to testify about the innocent sentence of her husband, who died without being tried in the cursed dungeons of the State Security. But with all the severity of his crimes, like everything in this world, he came to an end.
That end opened our paths to a life of freedom, in your homeland and of the beautiful years of your youth. But … he was no longer the place you had left. Many things had changed and time had erased the traces of memories that still lived in your imagination. Your life as a martyr was worthless; your tragic testimony was annoying. You shrank, became silent and felt longing for that place that caused you ordeal, but also honored and respected you as a little corner and, with all your heart you thought of returning there, among those people. But going back was impossible. Greet the people you love in the cemetery, set a heart stone and a great task for yourself: to help your grandchildren and great-grandchildren overcome the difficulties of learning in the much-dreamed Italy.
This goal became the axis around which your days and ours revolved. You did your job best, going back half a hundred years when you were teaching at Lice. You took the pleasure and fruits of that work with you, as the only reward you had in this world, when you saw how the children you raised and educated began to walk on their own two feet. In the last breath your words were for the nephew present: how much the grandmother loved you..! And they loved you with all the power of their soul.
God loved you close to Him and did not let you struggle for long. Now you are in the world of truth and, as Edira says in her poem, “You are back child”, to stay in the lap of the father, to have the caresses of the mother, to play with the brother. But there, in that world still unknown to us, you have certainly met many acquaintances, you have been disgusted with family members who have fled one after another over the years, you have reunited with them as in the beautiful days before the storm. You will have met a baby who could not see the sunlight in our world. You could not raise him like the others, hold him close and caress him like Dushi, Lela and Besin…!
You were welcomed there by your friends in the camps of Albania, mothers like you who had children in prisons and who died prematurely from despair. “All the mothers in the world are beautiful,” you sometimes sang in your melodious voice when I was a child. You mothers and there still worry about your sons that your life went as servants, but you are filled with gas when you see grandchildren who have the way open for a normal life. In that life you also have your merit…!
Now rest in peace and in eternal light, my mother. Gone are the sufferings and pains that a cruel century served unsparingly, just like the many millions that cursed ideologies turned into simple numbers. You have left us a great void, which we will always fill with your memories, for you will always be present in our days and nights. Maybe you will be close in the form of a butterfly, as you promised us when you were with us. You will be “one more angel” and you will watch over us…!
We apologize for what we could not do for you, for the boredom we may have ever given you, because the fatigue and worries of every day drive us out of ourselves. We know you have forgiven us everything. Your big heart forgives the crimes, and the violence, and the contempt and insults that during life “every generous value receives from the worthless.” “We forgave, as after the teaching of Christ, everything bad had been done to us, our lives destroyed, we all separated, set aside …”, with these words you addressed Xhana at her funeral ceremony. Those were the words I believe you, far from the barbarism of those who exercised violence in all forms against you, too close to the Divine truth.
“My ways are not your ways,” says the Creator through the mouth of His Son. You were closer to His ways perhaps that is why He made you pass the test of suffering so well. No wonder a friend of ours said that for you, you were a creature between Heaven and Earth and another friend of ours, who had spent almost thirty years in prison, called the day of receiving your news, as one of the darkest of his life.
Thank you mother, for everything leave us as a legacy, the respect and consideration of all those who know you, loving friends, but also opponents and executioners. Evidence of these feelings are the comforts that come to us from all over the world, where our fellow sufferers are scattered, are the sharing in our grief of all the acquaintances here where we live.
Thank you mother for everything you have done for us, for your sacrifices and your endless toil, for your advice and your ever-clear thought, for your great love for all of us, for the pride that your name left us and, above all, for the example yours and the lesson that comes from it: to be honest and always at peace with our conscience.
Thank you mother pray for us, pray and for all those who loved and respected you, pray for that Place where you spent most of your life and in which, after a few years, your bones will have the abode of eternal, as was your desire. Memorie.al