The colossus of Albanian literature, Ismail Kadare, is escorted to his final resting place -

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Bulevardi "Dëshmoret e Kombit",
Pallati i Kongreseve, Kati ll,
Tiranë, Shqipëri.


Bulevardi "Dëshmoret e Kombit",
Pallati i Kongreseve, Kati ll,
Tiranë, Shqipëri.

The colossus of Albanian literature, Ismail Kadare, is escorted to his final resting place

Homages in honor of Ismail Kadare were held in the premises of the Theater of the Opera and Ballet, with the participation of personalities from the political and cultural life as well as diplomats of the country.

There were also many citizens who accompanied the writer Kadare with applause and flowers.

After the tributes and the state ceremony, Ismail Kadare was escorted to his final resting place.


Prime Minister Edi Rama’s speech: This shadow of Mother Teresa on Ismail’s body was not brought by those who prepared this state ceremony.

It was here.

It had come before.

This hall was occupied and Mother Teresa’s shadow could not be moved due to a performance scheduled for tonight.

Leave it there, I told them, nothing will suit better.

Chances brought Ismail here, under her shadow, she, the Albanian who belongs to the world, conducting the passing away ceremony of another Albanian who belongs to the world.

Knowing him, Ismaili would feel protected by all those who loved him, or loved him not.

In the meantime, since the news of the death of Ismail Kadare got out, in the frequent message box of my usual days, opinions came to me, driven by a strange anxiety about his burial place.

I was reading them and I remembered Ismaili.

I tried to imagine how he would take those unsolicited proposals to bury him at the Frashëri Brothers, at the park in front of Rogner, at the green field behind the prime minister’s office, at the Cemetery of Martyrs of the National – Liberation War, and up to the Cemetery of Martyrs in Kosovo.

I know just like that coffin where his body lies, that if I had been able to show him my vigil for this ceremony yesterday evening, there in Durrës by the seaside house, where he closed himself off to watch his own sunset like a spectator descending from a long life at its zenith, he would have been very amused – and as Gabriel Garcia Marquez said, he would have been furious that he could not attend his own funeral.

When Helena herself sent word that she only wanted my words at his funeral, remaining loyal as always to her Isi, who had a severe allergy to gatherings, honors, and especially speeches, she chose, I believe, the lesser evil.

An unavoidable speech for the occasion, but at least from someone who does not speak just out of duty, but also as someone with whom Ismail shared the pleasure of infrequent conversations.

Thus, this special honor, besides being a heavy burden of responsibility, right next to the coffin of the man who elevated the Albanian language to its most unattainable peak and Albanian literature to the pantheon of the world of letters, also became an overwhelming discomfort for me, as rare as facing Ismail’s mocking face towards gatherings, honors, and speeches, similar to an exam.

In fact, as soon as I learned of his death and thought about the inevitability of preparing the ceremony, along with my inability to avoid involvement in the gathering, honor, and speech, an image stuck in my mind like a postage stamp, that of his discomfort during the ceremony of his decoration with the highest grade of the Legion of Honor by the President of France at the Palace of Brigades.

And since the special state funeral commission began to come to life, and parallel clashes of opinions both on stage and behind the scenes about him and his burial place, I felt like a character in Ismail Kadare’s final literary trap, a whirlpool of dreadful dreams in wakefulness, with me as the official of the surreal palace of those dreams.

A grave was needed. Whoever could, proposed their own, as in a self-declared race, where the one who found the ideal place for the grave of the lifeless body of the author of “The General of the Dead Army” and “The Festival Committee” would secure the closest place to him in the afterlife too.

Along with the image of his discomfort, I hear his warning line about death, “I will make a sign and leave,” and it seems to me that this unwritten novel about the search for a burial place, where his great brother Naim, whose grave was changed five times, is not absent, and in these feverish hours between reality, history, and literature, they wanted to split his grave in half to place Ismail next to him, like those who were released from prison and put into the houses of the living dead of the old regime.

“This is what happens when we do not have a pantheon like the rest of the world for the dead heads of the nation,” said some. Another called for a “mausoleum,” assuring us all that unlike the mausoleum of that other man from Gjirokastra, which ended up in ruins urinated upon by the hatred of his former admirers, this one of the young man from “Chronicle in Stone” would withstand all times like a Buddhist temple.

While I, an involuntary part of this grotesque extension in the real life of Kadare’s world, in the role of the government-authorized official for the proper organization of the funeral, thought that if we built a tower behind Skanderbeg, with many places for all the dead with great names of this country, we might forever close the historical problem of finding the right burial place in such cases. But then I stopped, not only by the real possibility of the overwhelming flow of requests for places from so many “national honors” done over these years for a multitude of people, but even more so by the idea of creating a long line of the living, who would likely submit along with their relevant CVs, a request to die, to secure a places in that tower.

Dear Ismail,

I cannot emphasize how much I would like to tell you what my eyes saw and what my mind said while dealing with your funeral, but at least I have to thank you with this unwritten novella, which is undoubtedly that sign that you said would do before you left, and even the answer to my questions of why you do not write again, when you replied: Because I have said it all.

I could not obey, and it seemed a sin to me that his pen was lying lifeless somewhere in the house by the sea. But today I am fully convinced that Ismail Kadareja told the truth of all that he had to say, and I have no doubt that this country will never disappoint him in that stubborn belief of his, because he will never repeat it with himself, perhaps in new ways, but without saying anything new, everything he said about him and who lived or will live in him.

Therefore, among all, I say, no longer in the unsolicited role of the character of the newly lived novel, but simply in the function of the spokesperson here and of the Albanian government and not simply of someone who thinks like this, Ismail Kadareja deserves to rest in a house all his.

Not with the martyrs, because he was neither a martyr nor did he have the desire or willingness to become a martyr.

Not with the Frashëri brothers, who were among the very few whom he sincerely loved and respected, because they neither owe him to make room for him in their graves, nor did he owe us to stop him from his beloved solitude.

Not at the park in front of Rogner, nor at the green field behind the Prime Minister’s Office, because not only does a civilized country refrain from keeping the living and the dead together, in the same open urban environments, but also because when you think that Ismail ran away as much as possible from places where people gathered, this would be like imposing a fatal sentence on him eternally.

Ismail Kadareja lived as a witness to a word for which he received all the possible praises and honors, and all the praise and possible insults of the country that gave birth to him. He did not receive the Nobel Prize, but remained in the archives of the minutes of the Nobel Committee, the only candidate for whom there is a file of anonymous letters from his compatriots.

He came, wrote and left.

We have only one obligation. Let us respect his departure, giving him a final home at the right time and place, where he will not feel threatened either by unsolicited love, by never-desired neighbors, nor by gatherings, honors and speeches, especially.

As for today, it is the legitimate request of his inseparable shadow, Helena, that the temporary placement of his body in Tufina be done only in the presence of family members.

There is no doubt that this would also be Ismail’s will if he were asked. Therefore, on her behalf, I ask everyone to respect this will and to conclude the tributes at the moment the small family cortege departs from the square here in front towards the city cemetery.

Concluding my words here, which should end together with the transition of our national writer’s body to his final resting place, where the concluding part of the state ceremony honoring Ismail Kadare will also be held in the presence of his friends from France and elsewhere, I find it necessary to publicly thank Ismail for a very special gift he has given me and all generations of steadfast lovers of the Albanian language, with the mesmerizing translation of Mayakovsky’s “A Cloud in Trousers.”

He knows, I have told him more than once, but I also know today that he would be very pleased if he had the opportunity to be here with eyes and ears, at his own funeral, to hear these lines:


Your thought,

Fantasizing on a sodden brain,

Like a bloated lackey on a greasy couch sprawling, —

With my heart’s bloody tatters, I’ll mock it again.

Until I’m contempt, galling and ruthless.


May he rest in peace, for eternity.

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