I have the impression I can’t remember the things. What matters to me is what is now. I’m here because of political reasons. I tried to prove all this to the authorities. I had a lot of documents with me. It was very difficult to pass it on because people did not understand it and they also made me understand that it was so. I needed time to get a lawyer. What can I tell you? When I start telling my story, we’ll need time. I’ll try to make it short and brief.
I was born and lived in Tropoja. And I spent the last few years in Shkodra. I got my whole family in the Tropoja. I had to leave Tropoja when I was 15. I am sometimes forgetful, although I try to remember dates. We were once invited to our uncle’s house in Tropoja. My uncle’s daughter got married. And one day before the festivities of one of my uncle’s sons began, there was a little argument with people from the neighbourhood. A very banal incident with the car: you didn’t clear the way for me, no, it was you. The uncle’s son was driving a friend’s car. He kept driving in the car after the argument, and those guys were chasing him. They were two brothers and the father. And when he brought his friend home and wanted to go to his car, the two sons and the father beat him up so badly that he remained motionless in the street. The local people made sure he got to the hospital. The whole incident gave the festivities a completely different colouring.
A few days after the festivities, 1-2 days later, the family – as is usual in this area – went for a conversation with the family of the perpetrators. The perpetrators knew something like this was coming and this time they were even prepared with weapons for the family. My two older uncles from our family went to this meeting, the rest of us waited in a nearby restaurant. The family was received very aggressively. The armed family said we’d keep doing it and start shooting.
(His wife’s remark: This thing was even in the Albanian media. And until today you can read about the whole story on the internet.)
We went to the nearby pub. We were able to observe the situation. I was there with one of the uncle’s sons. When he saw his 74-year-old father being shot, my cousin went to his car, got a gun and went in the direction of the scene. He fired. The man who shot his uncle died.
Although I left Tropoja as a 15-year-old, I had slipped into horror because of a festivity. This is about blood revenge, about tradition. The family of the dead man has announced that not only the one who fired is guilty, following the tradition, but also I who was in nearby. I waited six months for the village elder to do something about this family. That didn’t happen. And because I have two children and especially because of my little son I unfortunately had to decide to leave Albania. Unfortunately, it is still so in Albania in some areas. When it comes to blood, it’s very difficult for someone to forgive. This goes on. That’s my main problem.
(His wife’s remark: “So you should actually take part in a festivity. And although it was a tragic event for the family, it was even more difficult for us because we were simply dragged into something we didn’t really want anything to do with. It was a hell of a time to experience it all and a hell of a time to become aware of it: You have to react, you have to go, you have to leave everything. For me, the moment I thought about my son was decisive. So I decided we have to leave.)
The little son came here at 1. Now he is 4 and actually he doesn’t know anyone there and we both enjoy that.
(His wife’s remark: When you say Albania, everyone thinks yes, they come from a poor country. It is not about Albania being poor. Albania is a rich country. Albania could make a good living from tourism. Albania has a bad destiny. It has been and will be governed by bad politicians. Of people who left Albania with its old and evil traditions. And it hurts me very much that a country that for years, and especially in communism, had a very close relationship with Europe, is now being driven into a dark corner by politics that does nothing at all. It is difficult for me to say this after my husband’s story, but I am convinced that Albania is not a country of people with stupid traditions. A good policy could change that.)
Storyteller’s name: Anonymous
Interviewer’s name: Sarah Dudek and Violeta Peshku
Country of origin: Albania