Breaking the Chain

I watch through the window the healing rays with the feeling that they will never reach my bruises. I have surrendered my youthful desires to the old plague, to the Kanun. I have lost my freedom, surrounded by these walls that are my eternal limits…

The dazzling lights cover Tirana’s most popular area called “the bloc”. Once the place where only the elite of the communist regime was allowed to enter, now finds itself in the drunken atmosphere of the stylish clothed people and the high class bars. As I walk along the narrow and busy streets my head loses itself in the rhythm of the latest house hits that come from a nearby club. The past seems so far away from this moment. It feels that there is no connection anymore, and this evolution has forgotten its scars…has forgotten them…

My sister goes out everyday to work for me and my father, as we can’t get out of this house, not even in the yard, it’s too dangerous. She takes the gun with her, drives the truck and goes to the city to sell vegetables there. She tells me, she sees many beautiful things there, she sees kids of my age playing most of the time. And when she tells me this she starts crying…but i can’t understand why, this is my submission and i am committed understand the Kanun.

A parade of expensive cars is what you never miss in the streets near this area, no matter whether they are stolen from across the borders or bought with money from hard work, they still impress you. And I can’t let myself indifferent to the rhythm that takes over this area at night. My friends are less sentimental than I am at this moment. They just want to enjoy themselves, but for me, I want to understand what it means to enjoy it, in this way I can appreciate it these moments. I am not really the type of guy who likes to go out in this area all the time, I am not the ‘animal party’, but I surely like to be unconventional sometimes and let go of my limits.

My father lies in his bed all the time, because of the last wound out of the blood feud revenge that nearly killed him. He looks guilty all the time, and speaks little, but still finds the way to express his love for me and my sister.  Sometimes, I want to enter his mind or his heart, and feel the pain he feels. He never explained to me why this blood feud is necessary, but of course I have understood, we have to submit ourselves to this reality.

Finally we decide to enter a nice club, after wandering around and checking all others. The place is full, yet we manage to find some place to have our drinks and conversations. Spontaneously we meet some new friends, probably girls who join us in this night and the mood gets groovy. Loud and expressive, our faces seem to forget what happens outside of our lives. I seem to be the quiet one, I enjoy while observing while I hide myself behind conscience.

Today my sister met a catholic nun, who told her that he could help her to send me to Italy in secret and that he would hide me in a Franciscan community where nobody could find me.  She seemed unsure about this move, she was afraid to leave me alone, but she had no other choice, and my father agreed that I hide in Italy. That was the only way I could survive. Since the forgiving of blood feud was a hard thing to do for the family who wanted to take revenge on us.

The girl next to me, seemed to be quiet as well, maybe she was expecting me to be friendlier to her. But until that moment I was feeling like a refugee and didn’t want anyone to break my thoughts. So she was the first to start a conversation with me, and I followed her.  She looked at me carefully and totally focused on our conversation and that made me want to separate from the group for a while, so I asked her to go out for a short walk, in that way I could smoke my cigarette too. As we moved to go out, in the background I could hear one of my favorite hits at the moment, a song of an east-German DJ.

The day to leave has come, I feel afraid that maybe I will never see my father again, that I won’t see my sister getting married one day, that my life will separate itself from Albania. I feel like changing identity rather than changing life, so that I may live. Everything is ready. I hide myself in the truck that my sister drives, so that nobody can see me. She drives up to a hill, there stands the van of catholic missionaries together with the nun that will save my life and take me away from this place.

As we go out, the girl seems to be more attractive, maybe this conversation in motion makes her seem lovelier. We walk randomly and, at one moment, our eyes entangle with each other. But I am cold, I am always cold. As I make it obvious that we need to continue our walk, at one moment we hear loud news from a TV screen in the nearest bar. The speaker is saying that a man took revenge from another family due to the blood feud. This turns my feelings into bitterness. We just can’t understand that reality, we feel so far away from it, and our compassion is so superficial because we don’t know what it feels to live that reality. And we continue our walk, form a different perspective…we forget that painful imagery.

Maybe, this is the better option, to leave, to go separate from this reality, maybe even change identity or life, so that I may continue. I hope, while looking at the western horizon, that I may not need to turn head out of fear.

Photos by Ira Hadzic.

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