Halil RAMA – Grand Master

 

Shkodra, the metropolis of Northern Albania, described by national and international personalities as the “cradle of Albanian culture”, since art and culture have their home here, would be the inspiration of the writer FlamurBuçpapaj for his new novel “Doctor “. It was from this city, known for its anti-communist resistance, where he spent a significant part of his youth, that the author F. Buçpapaj, as one of the leaders of the Student Movement ’90, would record the events and characters. Focused on the unparalleled genocide that the communist system inflicted on the Shkodra elite, the author has neatly sculpted the profiles of the main characters, two professors graduated in Austria and the daughter of one of them, “Doctor Zanë”.

 

Eliminating, denigrating and ignoring the elite

 

In Shkodër, where the intellectual elite during the communist regime was imprisoned and shot, the two respected professors Martini and Leka, suffer the worry of the elimination and denigration of their former comrades and remaining friends as well as their disregard by the uneducated who had taken the reins of power. This is exactly where the subject of this novel starts. They are two aristocrats who manage to survive the system, thanks to their skills, as irreplaceable: Martini in the city bank and Leka, among the most capable professors of the gymnasium and the two-year institute. The author gives details of the many meetings of two inseparable friends since childhood, schooling, as excellent former students in Graz, Austria (Martini for finance and Leka for mathematics). Even precisely from these meetings, he builds dialogues that remain in his mind.

 

“The antichrist has arrived… And it is the curse of God on our Albania as a palm… Whoever has finished outside, is either punished or exiled. These turned it all upside down and now we are a collective. There is no religion, family, homeland… These are freemasons, they are a brotherhood of wolves…”. These are basically the conversations that take place in private between the two professors, which the author places in various cafes of Shkodra, to avoid discovery by the former Sigurimi. It is the time when the priests of Shkodra were sentenced to shooting and imprisonment, and the same fate awaited those who were discovered or labeled as anti-party. However, everyone around them would be amazed at how aristocratic they behaved. In this context, the author highlights the aristocratic habit according to which “in Shkodër they drank their coffee slowly and chatting, this was the custom of the Shodra aristocracy, which had a good reputation as a citizen . This is how Martin would act, who had inherited many properties, land, shops (but which were confiscated) and the behavior and morals of a great man of noble origin and descent from Shkodra.

 

It had become a habit, that for several years these great men of the city were not separated from each other. After clinking glasses like cigar stubs, the two professors turned the conversation to the danger of their extinction as a class.

 

” I had two hundred people at work and I didn’t delay their salaries for one day. Where did I print them? My family and I have only done them good. For God’s sake I have helped these infidels. But who knew that the moroccans will commit genocide… I forgave them my body clothes, because I felt sorry, because as an Albanian I said: Come and help them get rid of fascism. But who knew that these are worse ?”. Even this paraphrasing from the novel, in one of the conversations between the two professors, is enough to understand the extensive life baggage, but also the art of writing by the author Buçpapaj. And he doesn’t just stop at pessimism, but also wears the survival of his characters with the cloak of optimism when he puts in Martini’s mouth that: “…And indeed they have confiscated our properties, but our day will come, they will pay for these injustices… They have taken their feet with their heads… except here it happened. But I believe in God and in America that it won’t be long…”.

 

The author has the merit of conveying to the reader the message that it was precisely those educated abroad who influenced the preservation of the few institutions necessary for that system, thanks to their professional skills. Thus, Martini, who to escape punishment had divorced and escorted his first Italian wife to Italy, would be the only specialist who would “repair” the incalculable mistakes of the uneducated employed in the main Bank of the city. Meanwhile, he would not hesitate to show his insecurity in secret conversations with Professor Leka: “that this completely animalized society will not survive, because it will spread more immorality, homosexuality, infectious diseases, adultery, the degeneration of the family which is depraved and does not contain the basic unit of society, but total depravity… “. While Leka is presented to the reader as the perfect professor, with rare professional skills, who, despite the interventions, does not even tolerate the children of the communist nomenclature.

 

 

 

Several novels, novellas and stories have been written about the unparalleled communist genocide in Albania, but FlamurBuçpapaj has the merit of artistically, like no one else, giving the incalculable consequences of that system that brought extreme misery and poverty. Describing clearly and beautifully in the pages of the novel the sad reality of nearly half a century of communist rule, he deliberately opposed the ruling class to the progressive thinking of two aristocratic professors. Therefore, it is not without purpose that he puts in their mouths the argument and conviction that ” such a small economy cannot survive, based on its own forces, because there is no market, no offer, no money in circulation , that the purchasing power is very small…they are pieces of animals with two eyes…”. And in this context, with rich language and interesting means of expression, the author highlights the incalculable consequences brought about by the stale experiments with the collectivization of agriculture, the fields and herds that extremely impoverished the Albanian peasant of those years. And all this was done in the name of creating the so-called “New Man”.

 

The author also argues the failure of that system with the ordinary infrastructure, where he not without purpose puts into the mouth of one of the characters the conclusion that: “There have been almost twenty years of popular power and the streets of Shkodra are all pits. Enter the neighborhood, you will be suffocated by dirt, buildings with voluntary work rise like ugliness….

 

In order to be as convincing as possible in articulating that sad reality, the author brings to the reader’s attention in one of the dialogues between the professors, their conclusion that: “The young man is being raised by those lacking brains and, when the time comes, to lead these young people of today, who knows what they will do? Sin for God, for this country, for these people who are going so fast towards collectivization, even the time will come for the women to be together…!”.

 

To justify the fact that that system brought only poverty and rule by the uneducated and the wicked, the author makes an analogy with the neighboring countries, such as Montenegro, where there was intensive development of tourism, and with the whole of former Yugoslavia, where the system of self-administration was favored by the peasants, while the passport of the Yugoslav citizens was so valid that with it you could immigrate freely wherever you wanted, even to America. At the time when Shkodra merchants were known to the whole world, the phenomenon of brainwashing was being experimented in Albania, which had reached gigantic proportions.

 

“We used to say ‘for that God in the sky’, today it is said ‘for the ideals of the Party’. Dialogue with fools is like swimming in the ocean, or walking to the moon “, Professor Leka would say in one of the conversations with Martini.

 

In this novel of a special style, the time of the macabre system is also given with vital details, such as during the activities of Professor Martini in the city bank where: “… he comes and becomes a boss, teaches you, gives lectures to a party incompetent, who doesn’t even know the multiplication table… They are stupid, but their tails are up. They have no idea what they are working for, they just get paid. They don’t know how to balance, they don’t know how to determine profit, they don’t know how to find the gross or net profit of a company… They dishonor you, turn you into prostitutes, throw them in the trash and, at the same time, turn a factory worker into a factory director … This is the panorama of these legends…”.

 

” Doctor, the most prominent character of the novel

 

Doctor Zana is undoubtedly the most prominent character of this novel. She is the daughter of Professor Martini, who is described by the author as a rare beauty, tall, glasses, with features as if they were made by hand… And it is precisely from these features that Professor Martini, who has a weakness, seems to resemble her sister his.

 

“The fairy is a fabulous beauty… She is a good child… God made her an angel… She only studies. It is typical of my race, proud, beautiful and smart…”, – this is how the author profiles this magical creature, always in the mouth of her father, who suffers from the worry that she occasionally limps on one leg.

 

Although the daughter of an aristocrat who was being watched for imprisonment or exile, Zana is described as an excellent student in medicine, while she was very beautiful, but her beauty was also enhanced by the value of intelligence and honesty. Every time she came to the city from Tirana where she was studying, the whole street was filled, seeing how beautiful, tall and wise that creature was who unfortunately had started to limp. Therefore, her father, Martini, time and time again expresses his concern that his lameness would increase if he did not undergo surgery outside of Albania, because here there were no specialized equipment and doctors for such diseases, which had not appeared until now…, meanwhile fear and anxiety to ask for a visa to take him abroad, where he had many doctor friends with whom he had graduated in Austria,“I love my Fairy…I give my life for her. God embroidered it by hand. She is a mystical creature, smart, beautiful, the best person on earth. God created her and brought her to us… A charming girl, tall and all ten in the lessons. Anyone would be surprised by the combination of beauty and intelligence. A rare composition that is difficult to repeat again…” . This is also due to the fact that to Zana, learning a foreign language seemed like Albanian, because she spoke four foreign languages ​​perfectly and wrote them well… her favorite language, after Albanian, was German.

 

Continuing in this line, the author considers Shkodra a city that is lucky to have a beautiful girl as in legends or fairy tales, where beauty triumphs together with love… a girl who fights for love and progress in her city… Fairy or beautiful girl doctor who after Rozafa is the second legend of the city. It is precisely the evidence and masterful description of the culminating events in Zana’s life that give the novel “The Doctor” its valuable dimension. Because she, from an excellent student, when she comes to practice at the Shkodra hospital, will become the protagonist of the radical change of this institution. That’s why “Fairy doctor, they called her from now on in the city…Her name was spreading everywhere as if by magic…Someone would go around ten times just to see her…”.

 

The whimsy of the author is quite attractive when he describes this goddess of beauty, against the will of her father who ordered her to fall in love with a boy away from party influences, as being madly in love with the only son of the former chairman of the Executive Committee. ofShkodra.

 

“How is this the work of children? He raises them, educates them and, one day, they each run in different directions, each for their own existential struggle! This is how the author describes the meditative attitude of Professor Martini, whose “eyes were always shining in front of his children (Zana and his only high school son with all tenth grades). The iceberg of pain never appeared. He hid in the ocean of his daily pain .” That’s why Adriana, his (second) teacher wife, loved him dearly, because Martin was an example for this family. He dedicated himself to being free in his scientific and political work.

 

In the author’s fantasy, it is not simply an act of love and crowning in their betrothal, but also the influence of the Fairy on the lover so that he understood the consequences of that system, which would fail anyway. Even, not only that, but in this line, F. Buçpapaj knows how to add the fact that even in that system there were high-ranking officials, such as the former chairman of the Executive Committee or the former Director of the Bank, who, although indoctrinated, had created conviction in the inefficiency and failed end of that system.

 

CONTEMPORARY CONCEPTS OF LOVE

 

Unlike dozens of authors who identify love with eroticism, F. Buçpapaj does not hesitate to reveal contemporary concepts in this novel. Thus, in the face of Professor Martini’s reluctance to betroth Dr. Zana to the son of a high communist functionary, he refers to his life experience, according to which there is nothing that stops a love, be it fathers or mothers. However, even in this case, it does not leave out of context the parental concern that: “Young people do not want to know about the consequences of love, they do not know the importance of loss at all.” And in the line of contemporary concepts about love, the author writes that”Love is like the cholera disease that spreads in the air and you have no chance of escape, because you cannot live without air and without oxygen. If the child loves, there is no other way but to say “congratulations”. F. Buçpapaj conveys these concepts to the reader, putting them simply and beautifully, sometimes in the mouth of Professor Martini and sometimes in the mouth of Dr. Zana’sfiance, Ditmar, the son of the former chairman of the committee… Let’s paraphrase some fragments when the author expresses his philosophy on love:

 

“No one stops the sunlight and the bond of lovers coming together. It is worse than the earthquake and the greatest suffering in torture… Love is the only force that penetrates everywhere in free space… When two people fall in love, they are everything to each other… Love is like moonlight that borrows its rays of the sun at night to illuminate the earth. Nothing can stop love and the sun from falling on earth. It is also in the Bible: People who love are close to God and God has opened the door to his house somewhere up in the sky, in infinity….

 

In fact, it is not without purpose that the author “sacrifices” Zana’sfiance in the name of love, who after shooting his father ( the former chairman of the Committee, where, as in dozens of cases, the dog eats his own sons ) commits the daring act of undermining and blowing up the building of the former Party Committee, and commits suicide after expressing eternal love to Dr. Zana even in the afterlife… While she will remain stoic even when they denigrate her, transferring her as a nurse to a remote village of Shkodra.

 

COHERENCE WITH OBJECTIVE REALITY

 

Although the events and characters belong to the 60-70s of the last century when the monist system was installed in Albania, the author F. Buçpapaj has the merit of articulating them in coherence with the objective reality. Thus, it is not without purpose that he puts the conclusion in Prof. Martin’s mouth that ” Even if communism is gone, it is not worth it anymore, because the trend is for them to be these people again. ” That the homeland belongs to them and they are masters of manipulation… If America came, they will win again. They will say, that was the regime. We are with you. And we, who were condemned for America, will still be in the opposition… (pg. 188). It is under this lens that he also sees and transmits the concept of the struggle for existence, which according to him is always the most terrible struggle than any kind of frontal battle…. Even Kudreti, the former chairman of the Executive Committee who, although he was also a candidate for Member of the Political Bureau, fell victim to the slander and slanderous actions of the first secretary who lied everywhere with fictitious numbers, took bribes, took money for appointments… This is due to the fact that the struggle for existence crossed the borders of blood.

 

The author also artistically brings facts from that dark time when people’s envy exceeded human limits, as in the case of Kudreti’s message to his son Ditmar that: “… politics is a lie my son…I entered this path and stopped….now I have to to get permission at the bureau to betroth the boy….this is how far citizenship has come in this ridiculous country….”.

 

The author also articulates a former party secretary from the time of monism, when he alludes to some such wretch of the time we live in, whom ” God has left childless because he is mean-spirited and enjoys making people suffer… I think that it is impotent…because sexually disordered people are aggressive and impatient. Impotence also brings disobedience of the brain to other vital organs. They are more murderous than homosexuals, more handsome than Serbs…they have increased a lot…they are sick and have no cure…the blood does not circulate well in their brains and deficiency or relative insanity arises as it increases”.

 

Therefore, it teaches the family that lies at the foundation, as the basis of the existence of the civilized world.

In this novel, F. Buçpapaj is also presented as a rare master in the description of landscapes, as in the case of the bar in Shirokë where the intimate ceremony of Zana’s engagement with Ditmar took place.

 

FlamurBuçpapaj, ( who with this novel is also presented as a perfect connoisseur of exact sciences in the application of exclusionary elements in thermal and aerodynamic equations… and of history, as in the case of the history of the Shkodra hospital dating back to 1891 when the ShkodraKolKryqi or Kryçi left his house for a hospital… and that until 1928 the hospital was administered by the municipality of Shkodra and, after this year, under the central state administration….),after the publication of the novel “The second marriage”, the volume of stories “Shiritat”, three plays for puppets and the study “The morpho-archaeological past of the district of Tropoja, the Illyrian city of rosuja”, as well as his two brothers Skenderi and Mujo – poet, researcher and analyst, among the best in the national rank, enters with dignity in the history of the golden fund of Albanian letters.