“I am packing and leaving”

The shocking 30-year collapse


By Arjeta Ferlushkaj

It was 10:55 PM in the USA and 4:55 AM in Albania. I see on the social network of an ex-student the alarm “Police are at the National Theatre! Arrests are starting!” I asked where he is at the moment and he replies he is exactly there at the Theatre. I asked him about the situation and after a little delay he replies: “They destroyed it!” I can sense his desperation in his arrow-like answers. “They are dragging people!” he writes, referring to those who are trying to stop this medieval act, planned before dawn, while all Albanians are sleeping.



He was a student passionate about literature and while his friends spent excessive time at coffee places, he would come at the library looking to read more than the programs assigned by professors. Every time he would walk in the library, he would walk by to greet me and he would tell me when he would read a new book that the library did not have; when they would discuss in the literary clubs about the artistic life of the city and also about many events that he followed passionately and wanted to share with others. One of the last events he told me about, with the exuberance that defined him, was the gathering of some students to put on a show with their initiative. He would tell me they were rehearsing every day so they would be worthy of the stage of the theatre.

The enthusiasm of that student filled that library hall with light.

Some years have passed since those rehearsals for that show. Now he was looking with his eyes at another show with the theatre, and also the theatre being done with his life. A show he never wanted to rehearse for.

“How the beggars humiliated it / The mercenaries, and the lords! / How they cut it, how they wounded it / And made a wasteland of it / Under the heel of aggression”



Another message from him shocked me. Afterwards everything seemed easier to accept: the collapse of a theatre or the tear of an artist that lost the home of his being, with the hope that a new theatre will be built.

Now I am packing and leaving too!” – I read on my phone.

And the killing of the soul of the country was done, as it had been warned.