At first I thought that if the unknown author of the manuscript is alive and living in our city (starting from some realities and clear coordinates of time and place), I should do everything to find her and return the black notebook, aware of its deep intimate and private nature, even more so because it was a female writing. And, of course, starting from the indications in the manuscript, I localized the search in the field of media because the unknown author herself said that she was a journalist; that her formation is different; that she does not like journalistic work and that she sees it as a temporary job.
Unfortunately, despite the detailed description I gave them, none of my friends, both male and female, who worked in the media at the same time as Lirika Mertiri (the author of the manuscript) apparently worked did not remember a colleague by that name.
I had no result from my efforts. Because of this I was forced, and not quite painlessly, to spend, sometimes in the National Library, sometimes in the Media Institute, several hours a day over the annual collections of daily newspapers. I had the impression that several times I was almost very close. I say almost because between 1994 – 2001, the period when I was studying abroad, under various articles (cultural chronicles, interviews and files) I came across the half-signature of the author – L. Mertiri. It seems that in the autumn of the hard 1997 the author of the articles (only if the manuscript is not a story) returned from America where she went with journalists as a member of a delegation, from which time there is a reportage about our immigrant citizens there, which is signed with the initials L.M.
I had not been able to find the author of these articles for a whole year. The articles themselves date back to the first years after the millennium. However, it is not possible to determine the year in which these articles were written because the author did not write any date anywhere.
An old friend of mine from the media, knowing about my research, gave me, very briefly, hope when he called me a month ago, and boasting, said triumphantly:
– Eureka, hero! Eureka!
– What did you find? – I asked him.
– Well, the lost journalist, Lirika Mertiri, whom your grace seeks in heaven, she is my son’s teacher in high school! – he said in his triumphant voice. – If you want, we can go and meet her tomorrow.
– Of course, please…! – I said – and at what age is she?
– It seems that she’s around thirty-five… blonde, a real beauty!
– Let’s go – I told him and we agreed to meet at 7.30.
Before classes began, he personally led the teacher into the wide square corridor of the school.
– I know you, sir, I know you – she said before we got closer, chewing on something indefinite all the time – you need not introduce yourself, Mr. Tufa.
– I’m glad – I said, not taking my eyes off her face, red as if it was irritated by something.
– We are working on your text – she said and added – you gave us a hard time!
– Why? – I asked confused.
– It is very difficult for the pupils… as a pedagogue your goal were the students… but the level of high school pupils… you know… You probably came for this.
– Listen – she interrupted me – the book is very good and, just to let you know – she lowered her voice, – all educators all over Albania prepare using your book… well, they give the pupils a different, alternative book, simpler. Your book is difficult, and what makes it difficult is that it is not well processed didactically… I don’t have time because the class starts. But I will prepare a review with remarks and if you come back after the fifth class…
– Of course I will come, – I said willingly.
– Oh, no, no… I can’t today – she said, checking the screen of her cell phone. – Today is my father’s birthday…
– Your father… Traian Mertiri… he’s still alive!?
– My father turns 87 today… but the name is wrong: his name is Xhevdet, not Traian.
– Was your father politically sentenced to prison twice… more precisely, sentenced again? As far as I know, he was shot… Isn’t that so?
– Oh, no, no… I think you mixed it up. Never mind… I think I know roughly who you confused him with… But no! In our whole neighbourhood, he is one of the two or three veterans of the Anti-Fascist struggle who are still alive… how could one of the first communists be in prison?
– Is that so? – I said in astonishment and with the last hope, I quietly asked her: – In many articles in the press I came across your name… when did you leave journalism?
– Me, a journalist ?! Wow! Heavens no, bro… I have never worked as a journalist… Look, maybe you are confusing me with someone else.
– It seems so – I said quietly. – Then I will come some other day – I said, extending my hand.
– Whenever you want – he said – I will prepare the remarks in the meantime.
I left deeply disappointed and had no intention of going back there for her remarks.
As I did not find any other possibility and, still with the hope, which now already had some basis, that the real author of these records hid her real name with another one and, since our research in the media never came across the name Lirika, I decided to publish the manuscript.
Except for one epigraph in the introduction which I thought was in the function of confession, I did not intervene at all in the manuscript. I only organized the confession into chapters, I divided it into two parts, where in the first part I left her confession, which addresses the only possible person, the deceased Arsenio, and in the second part I left the confession of Rita O., a diva of the Albanian pop music, about her fate going through the Golgotha of violence and humiliation. Well, I made these two shifts just for the sake of fluidity and unity, so as to get two compact lines of confession about their destinies, as opposed to the records of the anonymous author who constantly mixed them into confusing deviations, which would have made reading confusing and difficult.
The title was the last intervention. I was in a dilemma for a long time. On a piece of paper I had written a few temporary titles, such as “The Accident,” “The Hero with a Gun,” “Black Tankers,” and even “The Black Block.” However, I decided to keep what is often emphasized in the story of the two protagonists (which in the text I marked with italic), the inability to tell anyone their poignant experience and message. They could only tell it to the tombstone.