He took a sheet of paper and, with tears slipping from his weeping eyes, he wrote a title with capital letters, “I Am Weeping for Her.” This title came to his mind because this thing was repeatedly happening because of his hidden suffering. He wrote it with beautiful calligraphy on top of the white paper with her portrait always in his mind. Even this act could not stop his tears that were pouring painfully out of his eyes in the same way as last day, last week, last month, and last year. These kinds of weak meltdown moments were happening to him very often in these previous fourteen years. Fourteen years had already gone, and he was still shedding tears, weeping, and crying secretly. Nobody knows that he silently cries and why he cries because nobody has ever seen these tears. He weeps quietly, and it seems like only tears relief him. He always thought that he would go crazy without shedding tears.
“This might be stress or even depression,” he always thought in silence. “Oh God, what will happen to me later? Will it worsen? Will something worse happen to me? Will I be able to face this depression all of my life?” Such suffering and such never-ending questions were continually passing in his mind. He had heard a lot of stories about insane people. Every time he cried, he felt relief and believed these tears saved him from the craziness. But…, he was crazy. He was crazy about a girl…, and only he knew this. Nobody else knew that. Those hidden tears kept him safe and have saved him until now.
“What if all of my tears will end one day?” he thought terrified. “I’m getting insane, and the hospital is waiting for me,” he continued with these negative thoughts. “Those insane people in psychiatric hospitals are not bad ones. There is a reason for their sickness. Like this of mine. Like me. But I don’t want others to know this. If I become insane, I will disclose my secret with my crazy mouth. Oh no, better with tears, for the only reason that nobody learns my crazy suffering,” and continued weeping. At the same time, he kept looking at another sheet of paper in his hands, reading and rereading it endlessly. He had already learned by heart the text of that letter. It was her farewell letter that he had received just a few days ago, starting with the words: “Farewell, Adi. I will leave. I will go far away…, but I don’t know where.” With this letter in his hands, he’s been crying for some days, thinking to keep it safe as the only souvenir in remembrance of his great love.
That afternoon of the fall of the year 1997, he was home alone. His wife, together with their two children, was out, visiting some relatives of hers. They have been married for thirteen years, making a beautiful couple; happy like all other couples and even happier than them. This couple has never quarreled with each other. They say this is the biggest lie in the world because there is not any couple without any quarrel. But in their case, it was true. Such few couples still exist in this world full of hassles and fights.
His name is Ardian Prela, a professor at the State University of the City of Elbasan in Albania. His wife is a teacher at a primary school in a village near the city. Both are very nice people making a great couple. He is intelligent, wise, and agile while she is beautiful, smart, and quiet. Both are prudent, joyful, and tolerant of each other. Tolerance and understanding were the secrets of their love and family harmony. Their two children—the eight-year-old boy and the six-year-old girl—were like their parents, but reversely. The mother’s character, traits, and qualities were mirrored to the son, while the father’s characteristics, to the daughter. Their child temperament showed that they had taken the best traits and attributes from their parents’ personalities.
This family was very happy—happy at work, happy at home, and content with their parents and relatives. They spent summer holidays every year in his parents’ house in the coastline city of Vlorë, by the Ionian Sea, south of Albania. The bitter truth was that he cried in silence so often, and even his wife knew nothing about that. She knew very well that when he was single, he had had a love relationship with a girl, and that he remembered her sometimes in his poems, lyrics, and songs. She even knew that girl by herself, but she didn’t know and couldn’t imagine that he was crying so often for that girl. She had never been able to discover such a thing during all those years they had spent together. She was very much in love with him, and he, in return, gave her the same love, care, passion, and compassion.
But…, what about these tears? What caused them? Those never-ending tears belonged to a girl. She had set strong, deep roots in his mind and soul, in his heart, blood, and body, in his dreams and his life. They were tears for the first love, the girl and love that had left so much nostalgia, sadness, and longing to him. And he always remembers her through tears for all his life.
* * * * *
Ardian Prela graduated as a literature teacher from the Pedagogic Institute of Elbasan in July 1980. He had very high scores and was assigned as a part-time professor in that institute immediately after his graduation. To fill the necessary quantity of weekly hours, for a full salary, he was assigned to teach some more literature classes in the evening high school of the city. In this way, he became an institute professor and a high school teacher at the same time. He studied a lot and taught excellently. He was fond of literature and foreign languages, speaking English and Italian. He sang beautifully, and he played the guitar too.
During his first three years of teaching, he became very friendly with his students. He played soccer and sang songs with students on the university campus and dormitories. He often danced with the female students and recited poems or speeches on literature and arts in campus events and leisure activities. Some colleagues started to see as suspicious these innocent acts and engagement in his relationship with students. These colleagues used their suspicion and spread rumors to hide and justify the jealousy for Ardian’s quick and undeniable professional success, trying to harm him as much as possible in other directions. They couldn’t understand this young man with an expanded horizon and so many hobbies and interests in his life. They suspected in his interest in foreign languages, in his poem reciting, in his songs and his dancing. Above all, they suspected and rumored about his friendship and companionship with female students.
His young age, his excellent way of teaching, his sincerity and correct attitude with everyone, made him win respect and friendship of all his students, boys and girls, very quickly. He became a model for them, and they liked his classes and his thoughts. They liked his friendly behavior, his tolerance, and openness. He never passed the certain boundaries in his talks with girls, and never said anything ambiguous in front of each of them. Girls never saw any suspicious sign in his words and conduct, because girls are very clever and never mistake in distinguishing such things. His open mind was understood from all students who knew him well but could not be understood by those who did not know how to recite a poem, to sing a song, or to dance; those people who saw his foreign languages suspiciously and that have never read any novels or poetry.
Maybe girls fall in love with him. This thing could often be seen in their eyes, in their approach, in the pleasure they showed while discussing or dancing with him, or when they talked to each other about him. But he never thought of falling in love with them. He remained their teacher, their professor, and their friend. He never intended things that some evil-minded colleagues and students thought, suspected, and whispered about him.
During his first three years as a professor, Ardian took and passed three postgraduate exams: English language, philosophy, and literature. After that, he continued further studies for the first level of a scientific degree called “candidate of sciences.” He deserved to fall in love with him, and most of the girls thought like this. Love is not a sin, but a feeling that comes from the soul and the bottom of the heart. He was not to blame for girls having a crush on him, but from his part, he never made any fault with his words and actions. He never asked or exploited their adoration and love for him. It was just his good behavior, his openness, and sincerity that brought the girls even more towards him, causing to them sweet dreams, desires, and suffering.
* Albania was under a communist dictatorship from 1945 to 1991. It was isolated from democratic countries and even from the communist bloc countries, considering them as “revisionists.”
* * * * *
Everything started on Thursday, September 1, 1983, at the beginning of the fourth school year of him working as a teacher in the evening high school. In that September, among other students, Ardian noticed a girl who drew his attention. “In September, people usually look more beautiful than ever,” was his conclusion. Students especially look even more beautiful. This thing might be a result of summer holidays spent on the beaches, mountain hikes, trips, summer work, and other activities that relax and reinvigorate the body and the mind.
Some people in Albania divide the fall season into three parts, calling them the first autumn, the second autumn, and the third autumn, regarding months of fall—September, October, and November. It was just the beginning of the first autumn when he saw that girl for the first time. He was looking in the direction of her desk, and his eyes stopped there for some more seconds. Neither much reasoning nor much time was needed to understand what his eyes were looking at. His intuition—as a man with a high aesthetic level—asked immediately: “Is she really so beautiful? Or is it simply the September fault?” Other students looked wonderful this September, but she shone like a brightening star among them. He started to explain the lesson of the day, but for the first time in his teaching career, he felt difficulties in his speech, uncertainties in his thoughts, and lack of meaning in words and phrases he was articulating. His mouth that had never trembled before started trembling from the presence of a beautiful girl that he suddenly discovered in a classroom desk in front of him.
Her face confused him. "How can such a beautiful portrait or sculpture be done? Where does she take all this brightness from?" he thought. The girl was listening attentively to him and was taking notes on her notebook. He liked her attention too. Ardian continued to feel this kind of emotion during the first days of September, looking forward to the day and the hour of teaching in her classroom. Three weeks, filled with such feelings and emotions, had already gone, and he had not talked to her yet. He learned her name from the class register during the appeal at the beginning of each class period. He read her name carefully, feeling the pleasure given to him just by the pronunciation of her name, followed by her standing up and her answer, "present." He was feeling lucky that she had never missed any of his classes in those first weeks of the school.
Ardian had started the fourth year of teaching students—"the beauty of the beauties," as he often called them—but he had never felt such a feeling that sparked the fiery love for that girl immediately. Everything that was happening to him looked like what happens to the characters of novels and movies. It was just what he had been trying not to allow to happen, keeping these kinds of feelings always away from himself, and he had successfully avoided that until now. He had other interests in his life, such as studying, teaching, and entertaining. He had always kept the reasoning and logic successfully over feelings. But he was twenty-five years old already, and he had resisted long enough till now. Love is like the cosmic ether, as an ideal mix of gas and liquid that comes around the heads of youngsters. “Love found me. Love caught me,” he shouted to himself at night. “No…, no…, no…,” Ardian challenged himself again and again. “Not with my students,” he was repeatedly saying to himself his principle that he had kept and applied well enough until now. But her beautiful, sensual face was already planted in his head and never moved away from his mind.
“All girls are beautiful,” a roommate told Ardian very often, teasing him for his indifference toward girls and for his “inability” to exploit the good chances he had with them. But the girl that took his attention that September, was not just a girl. She was a fairy. She was an angel. In front of her would melt not only him, as a twenty-five-year-old man, but even the centuries-old cold icebergs. All the feelings, excitement, the lust, the erotic descriptions he had read in so many novels, novelettes, short stories, poems, and dramas, he had passed with only artistic emotions and pleasure given to him, with such an indifferentism and objective not to be affected as a person, his personal feelings, thoughts, and behavior in his relations with his students.
Every time he saw her during classes, Ardian thought that she was an innocent beauty. Then, another thought went through his mind. “She is guilty. Why is she so beautiful, so silent, and so attentive during classes?” Many periods of classes had gone, and he hadn’t asked Eralda any questions yet to write a grade in the class logbook. Other students had taken their first grades after their engagement from the desk or in front of the classroom. It was Eralda’s turn now. Ardian had seen her scores in other school subjects in the class logbook, and she had always scored the maximum grade.
"Eralda Tako," he articulated her name carefully, having a strange feeling that seemed as if it was not him pronouncing her name, but somebody else inside him; it was not him watching her, but the other one inside him. He was like being divided into two separate individuals. The first one was he, the teacher, with his steadfast principles as always. The second one was the other one, "the bad guy," born inside him in that minute, that hour and that day when he saw this attractive girl for the first time, sitting in her desk, in a classroom, on the first day of the school year.
She started answering his question clearly and eloquently. The first individual (the teacher) thought: "she is answering the question very well, even the students of the pedagogical institute don't answer so clearly." The second individual (the "bad guy" inside him that was destroying him for several weeks) thought: "what a sweet voice, what beautiful full lips, scarlet and sensual." Her black eyes radiated their soft shine under the dark scenography of the black and thick eyebrows, long curved eyelashes. Her eyes were gorgeous, not so big, round in their middle part, a little longer, curved and narrowed in their outside corner, taking the beautiful shape of almonds, becoming even more impressive when she smiled.
Her beautiful body looked like a wonderfully carved sculpture, with her white flesh like being shaped from proofing bread dough in its final rise after the fermentation rest period. She was nineteen years old. Ardian had seen her birthday on the logbook page of students' general personal data. Her grown breasts (“the final rise of shaped bread dough,” Ardian thought about them) were like an added beauty to her young, curved body, that showed and expressed energy, vigor, and momentum. Her waistline continued down the hips, not so full like the most of other girls, with beautifully arched curved lines towards her thighs and straight legs with calves below the knees in the most beautiful shape. The observation of her body finished to her flat sandals, a little bit old and damaged, but in her feet, they didn’t look as such.
Her dress was modest, with a shirt and a skirt not so tight in her body. Inside her clothes, though, you could easily distinguish the arched lines taking the most beautiful shape of a young girl’s body, which could be seen better after every small movement of her body. It was just “the bad guy” looking attentively at such things. Her long dark brown hair, combed in such a simple way, showing that she didn’t spend too much time in front of the mirror, was like a beautiful crown around her face with a clean, brighten skin. She was a gorgeous brunette with radiating black eyes.
"She is born beautiful, and she does not have any special merits for that," he thought, “but she becomes even more beautiful by her modesty and humbleness, her clothes, her manner, her attention to the classes, and now by the excellent answer she gave for the lesson of the day." As a teacher, he asked her other questions from all the past lessons and chapters. Her answers were quick and precise, and he was pleased by that. But as a young man, he continued staring at her beauties, her eyes, her hair, her face, her breasts, her hips, her thighs, her legs, everything else, and "the bad boy" inside him was delighted as well.
“Very good. Thank you. Sit down!” Two voices of the same man spoke at the same time. While “the teacher part of his mind” wrote her grade to the register, “the other part” scrutinized with the tail of his eyes the girl walking toward her desk. “Oh God…, what an elegant walking, a natural and casual elegance, spontaneous, without any efforts, quiet, without any noise, without any fuss,” and both of them gave her the same grade, the maximum, “ten.”
Not any other girl could take Ardian's attention during all those September days, neither in the pedagogical institute nor in the evening high school, neither in the street nor the neighborhood, nowhere. For him, no other girls existed in this world. For many days, he tried and tried to avoid this sweet, crazy feeling. “Are you crazy?” He, “the teacher,” shouted several times to the other one, “the bad guy” inside him. “Not me, but you are the crazy one,” the inner voice of “the bad guy” answered immediately, continuing such endless internal dialog repeatedly for many days, and several times a day.
Ardian could not focus anymore on reading books and studying. On every book's page, he saw her face. It seemed as if lines of her portrait and letters of her name, were written every moment his pen's tip touched the paper. This inner fight was becoming even more difficult and unbearable. Two vital parts of his human being—the reasoning and the feeling—were fighting continuously inside him, inside his mind, his heart, and his soul. Feelings that were oppressed and beaten for so long, this time became more robust, and could not be defeated anymore. The reasoning felt tired by this fight and surrendered in this crucial war. “Yes…, yes…, yes…,” feelings cheered victoriously. “Now you can study and love, and you’ll enjoy both of them,” his heart and his soul whispered to his body and his head.
From the day he took this decision, both his inner individuals united into one again, after the long struggle to challenge his dualism. The second week of October had arrived, and he had not spoken yet to Eralda about his feelings, but he imagined speaking to her several times. In his mind, he proposed her; he promised her, he swore in front of her, he apologized to her, he sang and danced with her, and even he hugged, embraced, and kissed her several times. All these things happened in dreams, not only at night, not only with closed eyes but even at daylight, with open eyes, everywhere, even in the classroom while staying in his desk, and she in hers.
He should not allow this situation to last any longer. He had to do something. He had to take the first step without any delay.