Dritero Agolli / In The Moments Of Your Worst Sadness…

Character / English / September 22, 2010

Ky postim ekziston edhe në Shqip

A brown door leads to a spacious hallway with big coaches and engraved wood. He stays in a corner. Apparently this corner is his place because I found him sitting there the three times I went to talk with him. His hair are white now; he feels his age. Also he wishes he could have more time. To him, life seems so short to say everything he needs to say and to re-polish all those ideas which turned out to be lies with the passing of time. On October 13, Dritero Agolli turns to 70. I laugh with myself when he reconfirms his birthday because the encyclopedia on Internet had it wrongly written.

The Youth

Some 52 years ago, he published his first book with the significant title “I came out on the street.” He reminds that this was his first step which was followed by other books. He thinks that a writer in order to be as such should start with the publication of a book while underlines that some writers have earned fame with one book only while others have become famous after their wives have published their manuscripts without them being aware of. He takes the chance to add that he would need 2-3 lives to resolve all his pending and incomplete works. Sadija, his wife, confesses that Dritero regrets that he has not published a biography. He put off the publication of his biography because he does not want to hurt with his truths. His family records his confessions until they see the light some day…

The Literature

How much does the literature influence one’s life? Agolli answers: “Literature influences people’s lives becoming them as better as possible but it can not change society because it is not an administration. The society will get happy when no baby cries,” he says paraphrasing Dostoyevsky while mentions by no means Cervantes whom he worships. That’s the reason he uses a tray, decorated with Don Quixote, as well as two wood engravings brought this year from Spain by his daughter; one is Don Quixote and the other Sanco Panco. “Exactly for this reason, Don Quixote wanted to make the world like Dylqinj (the main character of the book) saw it because everything looked so high in his own eyes,” he says. 
For his books, Agolli says that there are some works he sorts out from the others with “The Shine and the Fall of Mr. Zylo” in the first place. In fact, this book was welcomed not only in Albania. He was accompanied with the same success even abroad. Although it was translated in the west after the 90s. Since this book came out, the society has not changed much as another kind of Demka reigns in Albania, they are called advisors. He picks as the best “The late pilgrim” in the genre of poetry. About this book, Sadija says that he confined himself for six months until he did it while put his soul in his verses. Agolli maintains that every writer should be a polemicist , he always should be in opposition with the state.

The female

“A literature without female would be sterile. Without her, everything would be called a dessert.” To convince me about this, he pronounces an old Albanian saying “with your friend, you can reach up to the shore, with your wife, you walk through the ocean.” To Dritero, woman means a lot because as he adds, “it is hard to find a wife but it is harder to keep it.” He makes no difference between a beautiful and an ugly woman. It is not the appearance but the soul which makes the difference between them.


He has written a poetry titled “When you are really sad…” He distinguishes this verse among the others, may be because he is a writer and may be he likes to be found among books in the bookshelves… This poetry is very well-known among the Albanians because luckily it is a very beautiful song as well which is sung by all and may be even by those who have never read one single verse of his…


He is considered a good-hearted grandfather, a loving father and a man who has never beaten his children, nieces or nephews. His relations with his offsprings can be considered as sheer love. The same way he perceives the family. He sees it evolved and differently from the way the others do. He notices that the family is no longer as strong as it used to be because the number of divorces is increasing. “And it will go higher,” he adds. Speaking of the family, he says that poverty is high and that breeds some of the problems. On the other hand, Sadija speaks of a special episode. The Republic’s prize, which was awarded to him, was a golden medallion which Dritero melted in the 90s and used it for making a ring and a necklace for his wife…


Dritero Agolli has worked as a journalist for 15 years. Thus he has been lucky to travel all over Albania. Regarding the current situation of journalism, he comments: “To date, there are journalists who unfortunately take notes behind the car’s window.” For him, traveling is a big book or more than one… This depends on the wish to stroll and to get to know new places. To him, travel writing has been a great source of motives and articles. He highlights two cases. The first sheds light to a trip in Tamara, Kelmend, a village bordering with Montenegro. There, a bas-relief portrait of a man was engraved on a mountain slope. The guide told to Dritero Agolli that this portrait was engraved by a lonely man; that was his way to make his co-villagers remind of him. The other memory relates to a villager from Mat who had sent his son to school in Tirana to become a hoxh and only after some years, he got to know that his son had become a geologist…


Traveling has always been his major hobby. He has traveled everywhere, up to Congo or China but he regrets for not having the chance to travel in three places in Europe: Spain, England and Portugal. A sort of sadness prevails his voice at least when he speaks about Spain, the country he wanted to see at any cost…


Asked whether he suffers any regrets, he replies “many.” To reinforce his opinion, Sadija interferes adding that people have many regrets in their own lives. Dritero explains that he worked for a long time as a journalist, just 15 years. He admits that a writer should be a journalist first in order to know the society well but this should not exceed the limits. He has a lot of books he wanted to edit. By editing, he means taking the overexcessive excerpts but without changing the essence of the books. He has worked as a freelance only for one year. He has served as head of the League of Albanian Writers for 30 years. Being in this post has been really a difficult experience for him. “Like any other institution of that time, the League of the Albanian Writers was fully conjectured. I have been a good-tempered and tolerant person. To ask for the rights of my colleagues, I have addressed myself even to the Committee’s secretaries.


“A vice-free man would lead a very boring life. But there are some other vices which you give up as time elapses because you realize they have become obstacles in your life,” he says. Drinking and smoking seem to be two important elements of his existence. He shares that he began drinking and smoking at some late stage of his life and they were “bestowed” on him by his profession as a journalist. “I have always liked raki and wine but I have never been a drunkard. I have felt a drinker, moreover I have created this term which is randomly used to date.” He started smoking in the house where he slept during the time he worked as a journalist. Initially he was offered hand made cigars and later on cigars in packs… Moreover, he says that most of the news he wrote by the side of a raki glass which has made the interlocutors more open. As smiling, he reminds of a conversation with the director of the Gjirokastra culture palace who spoke to him of the artistic situation in the bar of Cile Muka by the side of a raki glass. “Cile, who was a very helpful man, used to come to our table asking whether we were fine. At this moment, the director added all of a sudden: “I have Cile Muka very close and culture in front of me,” thus implying that the culture house was non-existing. That was the title of my article.”


Their house is big. Before you enter in, you imagine a heavy silence will prevail over it. In fact, this is not true. Artists and common people visit him every day. The door is never closed, for no one. Dritero Agolli is like a big book, open to all. Each of us finds in him the missing part, that small stone without which a mosaic makes no sense.

Why Dritero

There is an argument on which Sadija and Dritero disagree. She believes in God, he doesn’t. To convince her, he brings the example of Father Ahmeti of Kuc Teqe, a wise person. He did not choose a Muslim name but instead called him “Dritero”, a verb which in the imperative mood, resembles in sound to the verb Mbretero (Rule). He was called so because he was born in the morning when the sun light was just setting in…

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Irena Shabani
Is an Albanian freelance journalist and human rights activist specialising in investigative journalism. She co-founded Panorama, the leading newspaper in Albania, where she served as managing editor from 2002 to 2003. Prior to Panorama she was a journalist at Shekulli and Gazeta Shqiptare and has been part of the Albanian Human Rights Group from its beginning. She has collaborated on programmes for the International Research and Exchanges Board, investigating topics involving crime and political corruption and continues to collaborates with foreign organisations and local media focused on social problems and minority rights.

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