Teuta Mema: Oh, God!
| E Shtune, 10.07.2010, 07:43 PM |

Oh, God!

 

By Teuta Mema

 

August 31, 1976. At Shiroka Fishing Enterprise, Ahmet Arif Myrtaj is serving his shift. It is midnight. Revolted by poverty, he writes with shaking hand on the report-book:

Comrade Party Secretary, 

Everything you say, that the standard of life at our fishing yard is excellent, is a mere lie. I work from morning till night yet I cannot feed my children.  It revolts me to know that the Party spends so much money on arms, when thousands are dying of hunger.

I do not have any other way to raise my children except to cross the border and leave my home with pain…

They cross the threshold of their home on the tips of their toes and embark upon their journey of emigration as they head toward the lake over which the deep darkness of night has fallen. To hearten themselves, Ahmet, his wife and their three kids squeeze each other’s hands. Only Ahmet’s experienced eyes can catch sight of the alley where the tied boat lies. The barking of the border guard dog is heard nearby and the dim lights of the Yugoslav military check-post are seen on the other side of the shore. It is well known by the inhabitants of this area that on one night of August the lake becomes a deep black well in the shadow of the high mountain, Tarabosh. Ahmet has chosen this exact night to slip the watchful eye of the criminal communist guards.

 

He rows the boat, worn by years of fishing, to a new world where he believes can secure a life with less suffering for his family. An entire life spent fishing and he has not been able to relieve the hunger and end the poverty of his three children and wife. Unlike every other night, tonight this boat floats with the hope that across the border, on the Illyrian land occupied by Slavs, a better life awaits.  It will not take Ahmet more than half an hour of rowing to reach the other shore. But the night changes and   suddenly, a thunderstorm from the depth of the lake becomes a gale and sends merciless waves. In vain, Ahmet tries to turn the boat in the direction of these waves. The waves shake the boat as though they want to swallow it whole. The poor fisherman lets go of the oars and tightly grips his children and wife. The boat and the Myrtaj family sway like one body. They cross a mournful wave which forcefully drags them down, and another mad one that pushes them forward, and raises the boat like a feather in the sky. Then the boat flips over and the whole family is caught inside.

As Ahmet regains consciousness, he runs madly to the closed iron door and bangs on the bars of the prison cell. “My children!?” he cries, “My wife?”

The sadistic Yugoslav border guards found him half drowned on the shore of the lake and immediately began to torture the wretched father to determine the level of the crime he has committed. “We have caught an Albanian agent,” boast the communist Slavs. They mercilessly torture the father who is pleading for his children. To please the Albanian State Security criminals, the UDB officials turn the fisherman over to them. In the Enverist hell, the cannibal interrogators cut Ahmet’s flesh with a knife and fill his wounds with salt. They hang him day and night. “Sign,” they say, “you are a Yugoslav spy!” The poor fisherman does not accept the charge, “I crossed the border,” he cries, “to feed my children.” With tears in his eyes Ahmet begs the red monsters to let him see his children and wife one last time, and then they can take his life.

December 25, 1976. While the free world celebrates the birth of Christ, in the dawn of the day full of hope, Albanian communists take whatever is left of his skeletal body. They call him to meet his wife and children and in the black prison truck take him to the river of death, where the soiled turbulent waters crash on the jagged cliffs under the ravine. Hands and feet tied, Ahmet begs desperately to see his wife and children. “Oh, God! My children …!” cries the poor man as the firing squad’s bullets tear his heart apart. 

 


Translated from The Albanian by Hilda M. Xhepa

(Vota: 16 . Mesatare: 5/5)

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