Visar Zhiti: Ferit the “Cow”, Partisan
E diele, 03.01.2016, 11:26 AM
Ferit the “Cow”, Partisan
(Excerpt from the book, “Trails of Hell” pg. 227,228)
By Visar Zhiti
Hundreds of spoons clattered and scared the swarm of flies buzzing all around. We no longer washed our bowls; instead, we wiped them clean using the last bite of our bread, which we still ate despite the bitter taste of aluminum, because waiting in another line would mean another long torment for us. Washing the dishes every day from the water pipe, perforated in a row of holes, (I could compare it to a monster’s fife), where cold water spouted, would have caused us more distress.
In the meantime, the prisoner Ferit the “Cow,” was observing and waiting there. As soon as you left your bowl on the ledge of the washing station unattended for longer than a minute - just to wash your hands or to drink water, there, he would snatch it. And you had truly forgotten it. “Aha! You lost it,” he would smirk. He would sell you back your bowl a few hours or days later, and you could not always borrow someone else’s bowl to eat. You would have to buy it back cheap –for a pack of Partisan cigarettes. Ah, the partisans! Was Ferit the “Cow" a partisan? He says, “Yes.” His surname was not actually “Cow.” Ever since he stole a cow from the Cooperative and put children’s rain boots over the cow’s hooves so that the tracks of the cow’s hooves could not be traced as he walked to sell it at a faraway market, and, so they say, fooled the animal to eat straw by putting his green-tinted sunglasses over the cow’s eyes so that the yellowed straw looked green as fresh grass, etc.. etc.… - he is full of adventures, from that time, the nickname “Cow” stuck with him. He quite resembles the good face of a cow: in the way his cheeks droop, in the way he stares at you and in the way he bellows when he speaks.
Translated from The Albanian by Kelly Mema