The pigeons’ eggs

Story
(Dedicated to my friend Shefki Hysa)

I’m telling you what happened to me, without fancies, without inventions, I’m telling you about my unstable will-power, about that opinion vagueness that used to move inside my brain, about that hesitation to arrange myself…
I had been staying in Italy as a refugee for two years but I still wasn’t comfortable: At first I stayed in Lecce, then in Frossinone near Roma, but within six months I found myself in Campofelice, Palermo. Subsequently I went to Torino, Milano and lastly I found myself in Ravenna. This coastal city reminded me of my birth town, Durres, that’s why I said to myself: I think I found my place…
There was nothing left in my mind of the Italian language. Maybe those numerous movements, those southern and northern dialects made me jumble the words and I lost my confidence in speaking or maybe that change of bosses, those different people and different works had quaked my speaking with confidence.
My boss was a well-kept man. When I went to Ravenna, he had just celebrated his 75-birthday. His wife seemed to be of the same age. They lived among the fields in Lido Adriano, 5-6 kilometers far away from Ravenna, in a castle-like house with small windows. The boss used to wake up early in the morning. I used to sleep in a hut some meters far from the house, but it soon was converted into a comfortable room for me. Strangely I became friends with my boss. I had different works to do: sometimes I had to cultivate the crops near the house, sometimes I had to drive the small tractor and get into the rows of vines, pruning, spraying poison, sometimes I had to reap the grass with a reaper, to make walls, plaster works, to paint with lime, to change the lamp-shades, to repair the faucets, the sinks. As if I was a master of everything. Within a few months I began to speak fluently with them. Every Sunday Xhorxho’s (the boss’s name) two daughters used to come with their husbands and children. They appreciated my work and expressed surprise over my abilities. The daughters had entrusted their parents to me.
Sometimes I woke up at night. It seemed to me that horsemen with breastplates and lances were going to appear in those fields, in those castle-like houses far away from each other and they were going to suddenly attack, that’s why I had to toughen myself, to be ready to protect them. I’m saying all this, readers, because I want to instill in you the conviction that I was the only one they trusted.
But Xhorxho hadn’t entrusted everything to me. He had kept his hobby for himself: He was a passionate collector of pigeons. In his garden, tens of pig-nosed, hairy-footed and crested pigeons danced from morning till night. Xhorxho opened his arms and the pigeons covered him entirely. I looked at him with envying eyes, without speaking and getting lost in a host of memories. I’m not adding anything. I have been one of the most famous growers and allurers of my city, but I had never talked to Xhorxho about this because it seemed as if I was going to take a piece of his pleasure.
One day, while I was harvesting the full grown grass of the garden, I don’t know how I felt, but I began to coo so warmly and sweetly that the pigeons began to move from Xhorxho’s shoulders. At times they moved toward me, at times they turned back again to him. I went and went on cooing and those damned pigeons left Xhorxho’s shoulders and they all came to me. What could I do?… I switched on the reaper once again and I began working…
Next morning Xhorxho’s greeting was given to me even more sweetly. After that moment we intensified more our friendship. During free hours we used to speak broadly about the pig-nosed, the hairy-footed and the crested pigeons. I used to tell him about Tim’s, Skender’s and Bimi’s jobs. I used to tell him how I had once stitched up the cut breast of a pigeon, I used to tell him about my passion, pigeons lure, I used to talk to him about my childhood, how I did keep the pigeons in my breast and when I used to see a house having a bunch of pigeons in it, I would let the alluring pigeons go.
One day, while I was talking, Xhorxho turned to me:
– Can you lure the pigeons of Aldo and Xhino?
– Yes, – said I and began to explain him that it was necessary to take great care of the pigeons that were lured in, it was necessary to have a great ability to keep them because they could go.
Xhorxho said to me:
– Do your part, the rest of it belongs to me.
One day I took a couple of pig-nosed pigeons and let them go into their flocks. You have to know: luring pigeons is not stealing, as stealing books isn’t called stealing… It’s a sport with particular pleasure…
We went and went on with this sport… In the suburbs of Ravena the cages began to get emptied. The worried owners began to cut the pigeons’ wings…
One day, Xhorxho asked me to bring him a bunch of pigeons from Albania and I fulfilled his desire, without delay. At first we cut their wings so that the couple could get used to the place, we made them even a special food treatment. In the first months the pigeons cooed and flied cheerfully around us, leaving and coming back together with the bunch, but suddenly one day they didn’t come back.
I was worried. They were my pigeons, that’s why I began the search… I thought the other pigeon growers were giving us back the rest, Xhorxho and I owed them this. I searched and searched until I ran out of patience, but there was no sign of them…
Finally, I went to Durres… I found them in Bimi’s cages… They sat on my shoulder, began to coo as if they wanted to say something to me. I understood their language, but I didn’t answer. I kept a rancorous attitude. They were the couple that Xhorxho and I had fed. They seemed like people who hadn’t respected us, like ungrateful people. How could I justify myself to Xhorxho?!…
Amid trouble, I had an interesting idea; I took a small basket, I filled it with cotton, I went to Bimi’s cages, I clapped eyes on a beautiful couple, I took two eggs and putted them carefully in the basket. Without delay, I took the plane to Rimini and within a few hours I was in Lido Adriano.
I didn’t talk too much to Xhorxho. We didn’t say anything about the missing pigeons. I showed him the basket with eggs. That was enough, he understood me.
He smiled and spoke:
– Now it’s ok. They won’t go away anymore…
We putted the eggs in the cage of another couple. After eighteen days a couple of birds broke out of the eggs, with some shiny feathers as if they were two peacock’s birds. Xhorxho was enormously pleased and from time to time he used to talk alluringly, he felt like he had triumphed…
Months passed. One day we found their cage empty. Xhorxho and I looked at each other. I didn’t know what to say and unconsciously I did some uncontrolled actions. I went to my barrack and took the photographic equipment I still have. I began to photograph the pigeons’ cages, the house, the garden, the tractor, the reaper, the fence and everything else. I tried not to forget anything. I was seized by the desire to collect my memories, without forgetting anything and incited by this impression I said to Xhorxho that I would fly to Albania with the first plane.
As soon as I was in Durres, I went to meet Bimi, the famous pigeon grower. I wanted to verify the fact of the disappearance of the couple born and raised in Italy…
Two pigeons with peacock’s feathers began to dance on me, to coo and coo and strike me with their beak. It was the same couple, the pigeons I had lost in Italy… Two pigeons born from the eggs warmed in Lido Adriano, Ravena, fed and raised there…
The pigeons gamboled and gamboled with me as if they were two small human beings, as if they wanted to apologize for suddenly abandoning me in the foreign land… They cooed and cooed as if they wanted to justify themselves so that I could forgive them for the sake of Durres, the birthplace of their ancestors…
Immediately I understood them and smiled. I took the message. As from two carrier pigeons…
I phoned Xhorxho. I invited him to come in Albania. I convinced him to come. We were friends from a long time and he had to know my country…
And Xhorxho came… And we silently understood each other for that sudden parting…
Today I have a small business in Durres… We maintain our friendship; we are near each other in joys and sorrows… Everyone in his own country…

Namik Mane
Writer

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