By Mark Ndoja
The third part
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 Zvërnec 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
I love Luli very much,
Thank you for finally writing me a piece of paper! But why don’t you write to me more often? You do not care about two more words, as much as you have in your heart for your father! This matters, do not forget my task. But you, my dear son, have made me accustomed to forgetting your duties to my parents! I’m so sorry about that! You told me that you will not get 6 in Russian, and this quarter, you got 6 in addition to Russian in another country! You got all those 7s; you no longer have 10, not even in language and arithmetic, as you had before! Where did you start like this, before you finished the unique? Do you know that if you continue like this, you will do badly with the progress in the lessons? And what have you decided to do in life for yourself?
Do you know that this is how you poison me and your mother, who is enslaved and cut off from work to increase your upbringing and education, thus eats her soul, leads her to empty torment? Why do you treat her like that in my absence? Is that how you kept your word? Be a man of faith, Oh! Luli, a man of strong character and hardworking, for work is life, morality and the honest character of man. You know that I would be very strict with you if you were on the other side of the house, but now that I am far away and I prevent you from finding a square and living in it! These are evil behaviors, Oh Luli! I told you when you came to see me, how you should behave with your mother.
But you say yes, yes, and then the wind blows in my brain and my messages run away. Do not do so, as a popular saying goes: young as the north! Find out what I’m saying, otherwise you’ll pay for it when you grow up. But you are not very small now; you are 13 years old and you are going for 14. What if I die, what will happen to our house? Who will shake hands with Marinta and Leka, who have a sister and a brother? I do not hear you anymore you get 6 and 7 in any land, for no reason. Think you have been to the honorary table most of the time before!
I have to believe that you will kick this path that you have started, and you will return to 9 and 10, as a good student that you have been. Write to me and give me men’s words! I told my mom to possibly send me 1 box of yellow shoe polish and a Bjelkinski book to be found, entitled “Critical Articles.”
Greetings and hugs to your grandmother, Ermela’s grandparents. Lek kisses me on both cheeks for dad,
Your memorable dad
Much loved Marinta,
Your letter and sister and I were very glad you are all well. I was also very happy that you improved your grades. To work better and better, dad’s maid, because that’s how dad’s love you and wants you to be happy, whoever does his job properly is always loved by his parents, teachers and the whole society. But this improvement you must always add, and moreover, love the girl, and do not boast that we are praising you. The knee that had a water fairy, how are you now?
Do not play or try until you are sure that everything is over, Marinette, because sometimes a small mistake brings with it great dangers and damages. Do you obey your mom and love her very much, Marinette? Be strong because she is your adorable mom. Be sure that she loves you and takes great care of your health and life. Never forget me and write me as often as possible a piece of paper, there is no need for it to be short. Lekën kisses for me and love her as a little brother be careful never to scare him in any way.
Your memorable dad
They love Lek very much!
You still do not know how to write or read my letters, however your mom tells me that you take the scribble and want to send me letters. So, dad’s youngest son, never forget your dad who is far away, and who hopes to see you soon as soon as mom brings me to meet me, and sleep one night here with dad tat. Are you a good boy, little Lek? Yes I believe, you are the best boy! Flower that you have a brother does he love you very much? Do you tell fairy tales? What about your uncle, Marinta, does he like you, does he teach you anything?
Do you go shopping to buy things? Who are you dating? How are you doing with your grandparents? Here, Oh! Lek, we caught eels with baskets in the sea, and in the morning we cook and eat them. Do they ever buy you fish, like Dad used to buy you, and you used to enjoy playing with fish. What to give with the hangar. Your picture pleased me and took away half of my goods, but the picture where you went out laughing, the one you have at home since you were little, I like it much more. May you always be happy, dad’s son.
Your distant father hugs you and kisses your eyes with longing
I love Milena,
I received your letter of April 28; I had also received all your other April letters on time. And do not be surprised if sometimes my announcements about receiving your letters do not forget in time. Who made me happy and who made me sad with all these loving and invaluable letters for calming my soul? You believe that I take it very well that gas brings to people in my conditions a letter and news no matter how small from the family. Luli and Marinta should be reprimanded for the issue of correspondence with me, which they are not pursuing. I am writing to them I will answer correctly with a piece of paper for each.
I’m sorry you had the flu, and I’m still worried until I get another letter from you. Take great care of yourself, O Milena, if not for yourself, for our little children, who today have almost no one on earth except you. Please, in the name of our unforgettable love, take care of yourself, so that the children always have good health, always a pillar and support, a truly loving and selfless mother, that I may always be spiritually calm when I know that my faithful friend does the lead for herself and for me, who can no longer give them any help in their upbringing.
You write to me that you will come at the end of May. But you still have it uncertain. I had told you and I repeat that only according to your economic and health possibilities. However you know how happy I am to see your eyes as often as possible. You know that I have the most beloved man on earth, as I have tried to try things in our family life that have not been very joyful, at least joyful and unwavering in terms of our mutual love. I am waiting for you with joy, but I am unsure whether it will come or not, because I understand very well that they are waiting for the road to come here, so far away and with heavy expenses for the poor family budget; and moreover with the trouble you have that the car is busy.
I’m in good health and I’m continuing the translation of Dante’s Prisoner. I translated songs IX and X and now I are successfully continuing XI. I miss the Albanian dictionaries, that of the Institute of Sciences and that of Gazulli. When you have the opportunity, you will do very well to send them to me. How are the children? Have they gathered themselves at all for the successful completion of the school year? Tighten and control as much as you can. I reprimanded Luli in the last letter. You try to explain orally the meaning of my rebukes to him. I am afraid that this boy will lose the will to learn, O Milena, and this would be a disaster for his father and a misfortune for us now and in the future.
In your letter of April 28, you did not say a word to me about Lek. You may have forgotten why you were sick and wrote in fragments and with difficulty, but this left me with a bitter impression. You know how much I love that little cat and how much I miss him. I often worry about him, about his life and health. I am in danger from time to time to become fatalistic and think of all kinds of unexpected dangers for all of you, especially for the youngest member of our family, who is going through such bitter trials for 10 years now.
So I always get something for Lek, how he manages it, how he plays, what he says, how he grows up and learns new things in this life that we should wish and do our best to have him happy, much happier that our life, darling. So say that dad asks about him: how are you, little Lek, you’s dad’s best boy? Do you love Luli and dada? Does anyone drive you? Love your mom a lot and kiss 100 times for yourself and 100 times for your dad who is now far away, but one day he will come to see if you are the best boy.
Milena, a box of shoe polish and a pair of rubber boots under them were coming to me. Otherwise now send them to me with the first package. I also need a tobacco bag and a glass of water, because what I got broke me.
Greetings and hugs to Luli, Marinta, Kristaq, Pol e Mela, you always remember them.
You, my soul, fiery hugs and kisses like your unforgettable life companion, faithful to your love until death. I kiss your eyes longingly
P.S. I received your letter of May 1-5 yesterday, my letter that I had written the day before yesterday, I am not changing it. You are coming at the end of May. Welcome, love it! I look forward to receiving this letter before you leave.
I love Luli very much
I’m fine, do not worry! In the last letter on 11-V- mom wrote to me that she will come on dt. 24 or 25. I received it yesterday and the day before yesterday. Maybe it comes tonight. Maybe some family or official obstacle from work has happened to them, that now they have the end of the school year. Anyway I’m waiting for it to come, or an announcement as soon as possible. Of course before you receive this letter, this work will be clarified.
Mom wrote me in the letter that you are too busy with lessons! I feel very good if this miracle happened to you! However I command you once again: learn, learn, and learn! This is your only job for now! When the age comes to think about other tasks, my mom and I say it yourself, and you do not need to think about other tasks today. Do your homework well and I’m your mother will be very pleased; only then will you enjoy us. Only then will you make us happy parents!
Did you hear, Luli? You do not have to think about premature things! They would be very harmful to you and to us. You are still a little boy. Your mother and I are upset that you dropped out of school, and we would be even more upset if we found out that you want to leave school. School is light; school is gas and happiness for the future of people, O Luli. I finished school in a much worse situation than you, dear boy.
It is true that you will be upset about the new situation that was created in our family, with my temporary absence. But you have a mother who works and is tortured for you as a mother and as a father until I miss you. When I am free, if you diligently continue school, you will make me very happy; I love you like that, and then I will teach you another language, here is Italian, here is French, or both, because the more languages a person knows, the more times he is a human being. Learn Albanian and Russian well for now; also mathematics and history, of course without neglecting others.
How are you doing at home with Marina? How are you doing with old wives’ tales? Does he tell old wives’ tales? Have as much fun as you can! Go well with Marinta! Never break Mom’s heart! Save yourself from the heat and excessive games now. How are you doing with Liken? That other friend you have a fairy does you meet? How do you get along? Love your friends, and do not change one today and another tomorrow! When you have finished the school year, send me all the grades by letter.
I am now finishing the letter. Maybe mom is coming tonight and I will talk to her even orally about your issue that you dropped in lessons. However, I hope that you will make a turn and be on the honorary table again.
Lekës, say goodbye and kiss your father on the eye. Many greetings to my grandfather, grandmother, tetaq Mela and left Vangjos with his family. Is Vangjo Silva growing? Write me this little Silva as myself.
Greetings, hugs and kisses from your memorable dad
I love Milena very much
Your letter of dt. 30-V-65 the came. I was glad that this time Luli and Marinta also wrote to me. I was especially pleased with the letter that Leka wrote to me. If you really became the best boy. Do not worry when you come to see me give me full balls to play.
Your letter, O Milena, refreshes me and gives me gas every time I sing it. I like your fantasies and your pure feelings towards me. But you worry about my health in vain. I so far have nothing to worry about. You continue to be calm, work, relax and do not get upset. Do you know the words of the old philosopher who said: “Blessed is he who is satisfied with what he has”? Try to lay down on this bit of happiness that we have left without seeing the rarest companions and remembering our joyful past! I do that for myself.
The two times I saw you have remained in our memories as unforgettable days of happiness. I see you with fantasy then every day, and often times every hour and every moment. It seems to me that I have in mind everywhere I am in this green place, with flowers and birdsong, surrounded by waves, sometimes calm and sometimes waving. And then I feel that the Muse of the song of love awakens in my soul, sounds and words, music and poetry are collected. But these poems are the ones that never came out of my inner world, they are left with me alone, they fade away like the days of the weather, like the flowers of spring, like the sounds of music, like everything else in the world. Is it a mistake not to write? You can! But writing poetry is not always a necessary material or moral need for our people.
I am one of those poets who do not feel the need to write whenever he is inspired. And the psychological causes must be clear to you and to all who know me intimately. But now I continue to translate Dante’s “Prisoner” regularly. Today I finished kanga XIV. I am pleased with the translation of this colossus which gives me a great satisfaction of a very great moral pleasure and aesthetics.
If possible send me some 1-line notebooks. Also be careful to buy them and send me Fan Noli’s “Album” of poems and “Beethoven and the French Revolution” as soon as they are released. Having a literary husband is not a special pleasure for women, especially for Albanian women. Then let this work bring you trouble or confusion in Albanian. So what do you do for a living, Milena? Send me the “Juvenile” of Mjedja as I said orally.
Marina and Lulin greet me and wish me a happy ending of the school year. Thank him in my name for the letters he writes to me and instructed me not to forget.
Make sure you have the second copy of Dante’s Hell with you as soon as possible, and keep it well, because it is a valuable copy that can be corrected by punctuation errors.
The children kissed and loved me too because I am so far away from them. Lek kisses the little boy in the eyes and on the cheeks and in the gills and tell him that these are the kisses of the father that he never forgets, with his memory he sleeps in the evening and wakes up in the morning. Your parents and Ermela greet me from the bottom of my heart. I am not writing to you anymore this time, but to embrace you from afar with longing and love, I remain as always you’re unforgettable. Memorie.al
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