I will never be friends with Besmir Hoxha, but he didn’t let the baby die, so I cannot expect my children to hate his children. Besmir Hoxha’s brother Jetmir beat me with a stave he took off a truck along Rovena Road and kicked me while I was down. His brothers and Kastriot Moisiu meant to kill me, I’m sure of it, all because I had looked at their cousin Qendressa at the tavern. Why can I not look at Qendressa? I wouldn’t have shot Jetmir for any reason, but I was armed and they had me at a disadvantage. I was as surprised as they when the gun went off. For eight years after, I lived in fear, even though the courts acquitted me of Jetmir’s murder. I knew I could not live. You see the walls I built around my house and on top of that the shards of glass and barbed wire. I made myself a prison and filled the yard with hungry dogs that barked at every sound. My children were raised inside these walls. My wife and I couldn’t work. We lived on what we grew, but into our despair God sent a baby we couldn’t feed. We had eaten the cow. We had eaten the goat. My wife could make no milk. We wrapped the baby in the Gazeta Shqiptare and crept from our house to the house of Besmir Hoxha at midnight and left the baby on the doorstep and ran back home. For twenty-four hours we waited. The next night Besmir Hoxha called. You have made your point, he said. We do not kill babies. Your son is as ugly as you, but he is healthy and alive. He cries for his mother. You may come and pick him up tomorrow.

Copyright © December 27, 2008 David Hodges

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