Whistle (translation)

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(Agim Xhafka’s original in Albanian below.)
Just received a text message from Calja: “Fishkëllima (whistle) died.” My wife read it on the fly and was stupefied, but didn’t ask questions. It occurred to me that she might have thought it’s an alias for a woman, so I rushed to explain:

Fishkëllima is not a person’s name, it’s a nickname. It was given to Koco forty years ago, and clung to him like a welding mark in a joint metal bar. Koço was assigned to work as an engineer at the cargo park in Korça, upon his graduation from university. With golden hands, he made many inventions and created spare parts for the cars. A few years later he married Eleni, the gorgeous chemistry teacher. They got three daughters and lived joyfully in a building, near the stadium, until the day when their drama unfolded. Vasili, Koco’s brother, was imprisoned. Working as an oil engineer after graduating in Poland, he was charged with sabotage and sentenced to be shot. At that moment Koço got fired from his engineering position, Eleni from her teaching job and their daughters got expelled from the sports academy.

Cataclysm fell upon the family. Luckily, Koço was left to work as a laborer with the old engines. He washed them with gasoline and cleaned with a steel brush. The very first days he felt terrible. Nobody talked to him, all stayed away as if he had contracted cholera. He went to work alone and returned home alone. One day he was heard whistling, as he was approaching his building. From then on, he whistled on the way to work and whistled on the way back, year after year, properly earning the “whistler” nickname. Even his girls were called “the whistler’s daughters.”

When the dictatorship was overthrown and he got back his engineering job, he quit whistling. We asked him why. “I no longer need that friend.” He called his whistling “a friend”. “I was horrified when no one spoke to me, no one said hello. I needed a friend, a colleague. But fear kept them away. So I decided to talk to myself, but I was afraid they would consider me crazy and take me to a mental hospital. Then I found the friend I needed. I whistled ever so lightly as it seemed I was seconding myself. I went to work whistling the tune “Is there any water in those springs?” and got back home with “When my husband returns from the sheep pen.” I found peace and no longer suffered people’s contempt because I had taken out my “twin” who would never leave me.”

My wife wasn’t surprised at all as she very well knew those times of crazy government macabre acts. “Wise man, I pray he is in heaven,” she said.“ Amen,” said I, and got teary about the human life that went to waste, without living as a human.

(Translated by Aneta Mihali Xhiku, 9 janar 2021)

Fishkëllima

Nga Agim Xhafka

Sapo më bëri sms Calja. Vdiq Fishkëllima, më shkruante. Gruaja që e lexoi si shkarazi u çudit,por nuk pyeti. Mendon se do jetë pseudonim i ndonjë femre,thashë me vete. Ndaj m’u desh ta sqaroja.-Fishkëllimë nuk është emër njeriu,është llagap. Iu ngjit Koços para 40 vitesh dhe i ngeli ashtu siç ngel shenja e saldimit kur bashkojmë një hekur të thyer. Koço qe inxhinier në parkun e mallrave në Korçë. Aty nisi punë sa mbaroi universitetin. Duarartë si ai,bënte shpikje dhe krijonte plot pjesë ndérrimi për makinat. Pas ca vitesh u martua me Elenin,zyshën e bukur të kimisë. Pa lindën tre vajza dhe jetonin plot gaz te ai pallati pranë stadiumit. Kështu deri sa një ditë ndodhi drama. Futën në burg Vasilin,të vëllain. Ai punonte inxhinier në naftë,kishte studiuar në Poloni. E akuzuan sabotator dhe e dënuan me pushkatim. Qysh atë ditë Koçon e hoqën nga puna si inxhinier, Elenin si mësuese dhe vajzat nga shkolla se ishin në akademi sportive.

U ra gjëma si familje. Fat që Koçon e lanë punëtor te motorët e vjetër. I lante me benzinë dhe i pastronte me furçë çeliku. Ditët e para u ndje shumë keq. Askush nuk i fliste,i rrinin larg sikur kishte kolerën. Shkonte vetë në punë e fillikat kthehej. Deri sa një ditë po i afrohej pallatit duke fishkëllyer. Që nga ajo ditë shkonte në punë me fishkëllimë e kthehej me fishkëllimë. Nuk i ndahej këtij zakoni sa vit pas viti e mori si llagap. Bile dhe vajzat i quanin,janë çupkat e fishkëllimës.Kur u përmbys diktatura dhe ai u kthye në punë si inxhinier e ndali fishkëllimin. Pse,e pyetëm? Sepse tani nuk më duhet ai shok. Quante shok meloditë që nxirrte nga buzët. U tmerrova kur askush nuk më fliste,më përshëndeste. Kisha nevojë për një mik,për një koleg. Po frika ata i mbante larg. Atëhere vendosa të flisja me vete,por u friksova. Mos më quajnë të çmendur e më fusin në spital, thashë. Ndaj gjeta shokun që më duhej. Fishkëlleja, ashtu lehtë sa të më dukej sikur isha vetë i dytë. Nisesha në punë me këngën “A kanë ujë ato burime” e kthehesha “Kur më vjen burri nga stani”. Gjeta qetësi, nuk vuaja përbuzjen njerëzore se nga brenda kisha nxjerrë në rrugë “binjakun” tim që nuk më ndahej.

Gruaja nuk u çudit. Se e dinte që ato mote marrëzitë e qeverisjes ishin makabre. -Burrë i mençur, qoftë i parajsës,-tha ajo.

-Amen,-thashë dhe u pérlota nga një jetë njeriu që u harxhua pa u jetuar si njeri.