Monday, November 27, 2017

The Sin

‘I could never forget that night they left for Italy,
not even now that death is circling around me in this small
hospital ward, where fate decided I should end my days,’
Vera continued her story to Fata, and she was all ears.
‘Perhaps, in a bit, when my soul takes leave of my body,
I’ll get to meet her, right? But she will definitely be in
heaven – what awaits me is hell. I miss her to bits. Oh, the things I need to say to her!’ Elma held her tight, as if she was never going to see Vera again. And she didn’t. Tani offered the tips of his fingers
for a goodbye handshake, and, with his head to one side, reminded Elma it was getting late and they had to leave. They took one piece of luggage. Tani said that was all they needed, as they’d be buying more clothes in Italy. There, they’d dress like the Italians, so their old clothes wouldn’t be of any use. All Vera knew about the journey was that they were leaving by ferry that evening and, once in Italy, in Bari, Tani’s friend would meet them. They would live with the friend until they were settled into jobs, had a place to live and had resident permits. Tani wasn’t that keen on work; Vera knew Elma would be carrying most of that weight. Elma was scared of the water and, as if to spite her, the sea that night was stirring, waves crashing fiercely against their ferry, as if to warn her not to go. She spent all night locked in her cabin, barely holding her food down. When they landed in Bari, she had lost all colour in her face. Her eyes had circles so dark they looked as if they were bruised from a beating. The awful night she’d gone through had left its mark. The ferry docked. The anchor
touched the blue waters of the sea. Elma finally set eyes on land again. She’d been missing the shore for the past twelve hours, enough to feel like a lifetime. At the security check, they had to behave normally, even more normal than usual. No one should suspect their visas were fake. They tried to appear casual, hoping to fool the Italian policeman. In Durrës they’d had no problem – the policeman barely noted their names down before letting them through. He would have never realised the visas were fakes. Sometimes, the policeman didn’t even understand the documents passengers handed to him while going through the security check. They finally checked out clear at the Italian side too. When the security officer stamped their passports and let them enter Italy, Elma’s freedom was over.
Tani’s friend was waiting by a Fiat on the other side of the road, sporting a black leather parka; Elma never understood why everybody wore those. She had never met him before, but it wasn’t hard to see that that was the guy. Tani’s friend leaned against the car while also trying to wipe the dust off it. It was clear it hadn’t been washed in months. In the other hand, he jangled a set of keys. He drew intensely on a cigarette which, if he didn’t stop polishing, would soon be searing his lips. He was smoking the wretched thing right down to the butt. Elma was far too tired to care much more about her first impressions of Bashkim, or Baçi, as everyone called him. All she wanted was a bed to lie in and pull her bones together, as the sea seemed to have rattled them to every corner of her body. They set off. Her eyes could not focus on the astonishing views that unfolded along the road. What she had left back home was completely different, way too different. There was no comparing it to what she found here. The road lay along the seashore. She’d never had any good feelings about the sea. Fear, if anything. She’d never seen the sea this close up before, let alone live a night on its body. Did it not feel pain when their ferry was cutting through it towards Italy? Of course it did, or it wouldn’t have
unleashed all those waves onto us. They were the sea’s endeavours to show its pain, to tell those people it hadn’t agreed to this. They were stepping over it, spoiling its peace. I’m so stupid, she thought to herself, then went back to enjoying the beautiful view that erased away all her thoughts and words. There were elegant palm trees lining the shore, swishing to and fro in the wild wind. She had never dreamed of such beauty. Tani and Baçi were chatting away in a low voice. Elma didn’t bother trying to make out what they were saying. Their conversation was half-Albanian, half-Italian.
‘Wake up, Elma, we’re here,’ Tani said.
They’d been driving a long way, almost all night. It was
dark, although dawn had shown its first signs. So there it was, another day signalling its arrival. She couldn’t remember a thing, she’d had a bad sleep and her neck was aching. She froze. The sea and the magnificent road had made way for a house that barely stood up. Baçi lived there. The house looked like a wreck, but all she wanted that moment was a bed and clean sheets she could lie on. She felt like she could go to sleep for eternity.
‘We’ll stay here a few days, just till we find work and get a place of our own.’ Tani shook hands with his friend once more as a sign of gratitude and invited Elma to thank him too. She smiled and nodded in approval, as her man told her to. Even if she wanted to do otherwise, she couldn’t. She was on the outskirts of Milan, in a small neighbourhood of that big city. Baçi’s wife, Nora, received them in the doorway. She was no taller than a metre fifty, with a chubby figure and short black hair. Nora was wearing a red top and a pair of white trousers. The attire only accentuated the bulges of her body.
She had three young children who ran about in the small, dilapidated house. The plump woman was unaffected by their mind-numbing shrills. Compared to the outside, the interior of the house was not so bad. Nora showed them the room they’d be staying in. In that house you could hear even the slightest sound, but still Nora made a point of shouting. And later, Elma had to hear Nora’s complaints.
‘I hope they’re not staying any longer than the two weeks you said they would,’ she was saying to Baçi.
‘Be quiet or I swear I’ll kill you!’ he screamed.
‘You can’t touch me, or I’ll call the police. Do you remember what happened last time?’ she threatened him.
‘All right, all right, they’ll go. Things’ll be just like I promised.’ Baçi managed to calm her down in the end. The yelling ceased. No one peeped anymore. Elma found the whole thing weird, but Tani slept, pretending not to hear. Helpless as she felt, she lay down and tried to sleep too. She tossed and turned, the old metal frame creaking with every move. She couldn’t sleep in that so-called bed.
The feeling she had the moment she stepped into this house wouldn’t leave her alone. Everything seemed out of place: clothes thrown in all corners. It seemed like a maze with a secret she couldn’t uncover.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

If you are reading this letter now, I'm not here anymore. He killed me last night, and the night before, and... #writing

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Letra e një gruaje të vrarë

Nëse ti po e lexon këtë letër tani, do të thotë se unë nuk jam më. E di, parandjej; ndaj dhe po të shkruaj. Mos e gjyko “Arditin”, ai nuk ishte i keq, por jeta, shoqëria; nganjëherë edhe vendi e bënë të tillë. Gjatë kohës që ishim në Selanik nisi të pinte. Gjërat u përkeqësuan më shumë kur u kthyem nga Greqia. Kriza na i mori të gjitha, nuk kishim më as punë, as para; as gjë prej gjëje. Me të mbërritur në Shqipëri, filloi dhe bixhozin. Edhe ato pak kursime që kisha arritur të bëja në Greqi i harxhoi në lojëra fati. Pinte shumë, oh, sa shumë që pinte!
E mora një natë në telefon, Johani - djali i vogël - ishte sëmurë, kishte shumë temperaturë, e unë kisha frikë. Shokët e vunë në lojë: "Shko, shko se të kërkon gruaja!" Që prej asaj nate ai i bë edhe më i dhunshëm. Më goditi fort! Atë natë nuk pata vetëm një sy të nxirë, por edhe një brinjë të krisur. M’u dhimbs Johani. Qante e bërtiste: babi mos! Ai djalë ka parë shumë gjëra që nuk duhej. Është vecse një fëmijë pa fat.
Kujdesu për të; kur unë të mos jem më! Ai është djali yt në shpirt. Nuk arritëm të bënim kurrë një ceremoni për pagëzimin, por Zoti lart e di arsyen; ndaj do të na falë.
E di, e ndjej që Arditi do të më vrasë. Mos më pyet si? thjesht e di; ndaj dhe po të shkruaj këtë letër. E thashë dhe në polici. Gjithë ç’kërkoja ishte vetëm ta mbanin larg prej meje e, ata nuk e bënë. Qeshnim me mua sa herë shkoja në komisariat, me sy të nxirë, me buzë të çarë. "Po kjo kurva, erdhi prapë?!" i dëgjoja policët që flisnin me njëri-tjetrin. Erdhi një ditë dhe nuk shkova më as atje.
Shoqja ime e mirë, mos u mërzit, nuk të kërkoj të qash, dua ndihmën tënde kur të mos jem më. Mos u habit as kur të shohësh €200 në zarf, nuk janë shumë e nuk do të të mjaftojnë. Janë për kostumin e maturës së Johanit, e di që do të shtosh edhe të tjera deri kur të vi ajo ditë, ndoshta me aq para nuk mund të blesh as këmishën. Dua vetëm që ai të mbajë veshur dicka prej meje, qoftë edhe sikur corape të mund të blesh. Tregoji atij që kishte një nënë që e donte shumë, ka dhe një baba që ndoshta do të jetë në burg, ose ndoshta për mungesë provash do ta lirojnë. Johani është 7 vjeç tani, nuk i kupton këto gjëra. Kujdesu për të, tani që unë nuk jam më!

Shenim: Johani dhe Arditi jane emra te sajuar nga autorja.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The waiter plonked down on the table a cup of java and the bill. He knew she was not a foreigner, so he didn't utter to say "enjoy" to her. Sarah fished her hand into her bag and got herself a paracetamol. She knew she had no money to buy water, so she had to chew it. "What a taste," she made such a face...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Pont de Normandie bridge - France. Its total length is 2,143.21 metres. This is the last bridge to cross the Seine before it empties into the ocean. I believe I can fly. 😍 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

It is a random Sunday morning. It is August, that means it is still summer. But the Dutch don't know the summer. She never, ever stops here, she doesn't even look at us at all. The rain looks as if it has set in for the rest of the day. Neither you nor I could do something. I was too tired, I still am. I threw on my dressing gown and went downstairs. I prepared myself a big cup of coffee, bigger than I usually do and then I sat down staring at the rain.

ps. I normally don't write in English, but I am giving a try. Don't be harsh on me! :)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I'm not one of them

They dropped her in the middle of a road, in the darkness, her clothes a mess. A pair of black fishnet tights, a patent leather skirt – if it could be called that – a camisole and a short, feathered jacket. She protested, but Baçi tore off whatever clothing she had left. If she wouldn’t wear what they offered, they’d send her out in the street naked. She was nothing but a corpse, dishonoured and walking by the bins, nothing better than trash itself.
Her feet dragged slowly on the pitch-black road that would now be her home. By the curb, they’d set fire to a mound of rubbish, used condoms and who knew what else. She kept her distance, not wanting to go near the other girls. Elma felt ashamed of the clothes she had on, ashamed of herself, of everyone.
She closed her eyes. If only I could turn to dust, into wind disappear, evaporate instantly. The blonde girl’s voice reminded her that the magic had not occurred; she was still there.
Ciao, come stai? Sei nuova? Non ti ho mai vista prima.’ The stranger spoke in an accent that sounded foreign. Elma had to leave immediately. She didn’t want to speak to the girl – she was a prostitute; Elma was not. The inner voice breathed coldly, tormenting her further: You are one of them, and even worse than them, Elmaaaaaa!
In the black of night, she noticed Baçi bringing another girl, one who looked terribly young, perhaps not yet sixteen.
Elma stood there, and the blonde did too, chattering away. Elma wanted to scream at her, tell her to shut her prattling gob.
‘Leave me alone!’ she said in a half-voice.
‘Aha, you’re Albanian,’ the other realised. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. It was difficult for me at the start too. Now it seems fine. I’ve got used to it. I make money, got enough for myself and some to spare for my family in Albania.’
Elma could not believe her eyes and ears. An Albanian girl who didn’t just prostitute without batting a remorseful eyelid, but actually felt happy about it?
‘I … I can’t do this, it’s impossible!’
‘Don’t be stupid. Those who brought you here aren’t just going to let you leave, so you better decide. I’ll help you tonight. I don’t know you, but someone helped me at the start. Maybe someday you’ll return the favour.’
‘You’re going to help me? How? Help me leave? But how?’
‘Who said anything about leaving? Leaving isn’t an option. I’ll help you by picking the first client for you – the rest, you’ll have to take care of yourself. For me, this is doing a lot. I’m letting you have my client. Do you understand how much I’m losing here?’
‘God, you call that help?’ Elma shrieked.
‘You’re a fussy one, aren’t you? I won’t be wasting my time with you all night. Decide! Do you want my client or not? Otherwise, you’ll be out here in the street. In the morning, you’ll have to answer for yourself and you won’t have a single lire to hand in. Trust me, that’s the tough part. That pretty face of yours will be caked in blood and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a tooth or two left in your mouth.’ She laughed, and her false tooth shifted a little.
‘But I can’t ... I don’t know any of this ... don’t know how to …’
‘What do you mean? There’s never been a woman who doesn’t know how to win a man over, how to make love!’
‘But this isn’t love!’
‘You’ll get used to seeing it that way. This is your love, our love. There’s no other. Forgot to introduce myself. What’s your name?’
‘E–Elma. No, Vasiliqi, I think,’ she said.
‘Elma? What a strange name! Haven’t heard it before. You’ll be Vasiliqi to all the others, but not to me. And my name’s Eva – or, at least, that’s the name you’ll know me by. I’ll let you have my client tonight. Be polite to him. Tomorrow you’ll think about things differently and you’ll thank me.’
Thank her? For what? For bringing a stranger for me to entertain and who’ll gratify his male lust on my body?
Ciao, mia bella signorina, vieni con me stasera?She heard a man’s voice.
Eva approached his car and soon headed back towards Elma.
‘Go! He’s waiting. I’ve arranged the deal for you tonight. No need to thank me. The day will come when you’ll repay me for all of this.’
She hugged Elma around the waist, as if they were life-long friends, but in truth she was pushing her towards the car where the mysterious man waited impatiently for his night’s kill.
Elma moved stiffly, feeling no muscles. Her heart had ceased beating, but she was still alive. The man in front of her was guarding the gates of judgement. Would he point me to heaven or hell? She was undoubtedly headed for hell; she’d done so many ugly things – standing half-naked in front of a stranger for one.
Inside the car it felt warm. Out there, on the pavement, the cold had crept into her bones. He scanned her for a moment, head to toe, then they took off towards the big unknown...

Days and nights became all the same to Elma. Clinging to her miserable existence, she dragged herself to that place time and again. Tani was rarely seen around, but Baçi personally made sure that she got there every night. He watched from a distance as clients rolled up. She ran towards strangers’ cars.
Elma needed the money desperately, her soul sold to the devil ever since they left her starving for a week. Every night, she walked around the filthy alley that reeked of sweat, urine and sperm, like a dog scouring for a bone to live on for a few more days.

Six months went by, which seemed to be a lifetime. Jeton was almost forgotten to her; her own self was forgotten to her, but once a month she was forced to call her mother.
‘I’m OK, Mum. We’ve been at work, that’s why we can’t call you often. As soon as we’ve sorted the paperwork, we’re coming back to visit you. I miss you so much.’ She always said the same thing to her mother. Then, at the end of the year, Vera received a package of presents from Elma and Tani.

A chapter from "The Sin".  For more just click on the link below: