The village was celebrating. A small crowd had gathered in front of the huge door of the town. Everyone was waiting for someone to arrive; who hoped in a photo, who to chat, who in a handshake. And then there was me, who wanted to hear only his words.
An escorted car, a blue car, appeared from the narrow road that led into the immense square. A man got out, jacket and tie, white hair, it was him.
I rushed into the communal hall before everyone arrived. After a few minutes the ambassador entered, greeting with a fearful 'Good evening' with an Albanian accent. The ambassador, Neritan Ceka, was accompanied by the Albanian ambassador to Great Britain, Mal Berisha. Everyone took their places, I stood at the back of the room.
The mayor gave a brief presentation of the country, from culture, to traditions, from the origins to the language. Then he left the floor to the ambassador, who stood up and began to speak.
I think I had shining eyes at that moment.
He began by saying that, as an archaeologist he was, he had thought that Urur meant 'blessed' by the similarity he has with the term 'i ururar' in Albanian. "And so," he continued, "our ancestors came here to find a new home, and it is here that they kept their traditions, never to betray their origins."
You have managed to keep a small piece of Albania in your country, Ururi, and that is why our centenary of Independence started here, not in Albania. "
Then he turned to politics: "We think of a better future. In Italy we feel a climate of pessimism, but I believe that optimism exists. We are convinced Europeans. Europe is not a dream, a difficult reality yes, but not a dream ”.
And while they talked about crises and difficult realities, my mind ranged elsewhere. I thought we immigrants, we who are between the two sides of the river, us orphans of the homeland. As if our motherland had abandoned us, or perhaps us, without scruples, we had abandoned it, selfishly but also miserably, for a better future, and now suddenly we had come to visit. He, an apparently ordinary man, represented my nation, my homeland, my land. And I was proud of this. Finally, after a long time, I felt protected, I was no longer an orphan, I felt at home.
And so a wave of memories as a child swept me away and I had to send them down like a bitter pill.
I felt that my country had not forgotten me, and so, like a mother, she looked for her children scattered around the world, born from her womb, those children to whom she had taught a language, a culture, had passed down stories, songs, traditions.
I fixed my eyes on the red background of the flag, God I missed. How much I wanted to see her flutter there, that flag, on that land, and look at her with an upturned nose admiring that sky, and breathing that air. And keep in that smell of freedom, breaking the chains of injustice, of difference, and of indifference. I missed people like me, my people, and at that moment I would have run away, and I would have thrown myself on a green lawn, an Albanian lawn, with my bare feet.
And so, lying on the ground, I would have seen an eagle fluttering in the clear sky, and I would have been alive, I would have been free.
And when you least expect it life makes you these jokes, brings the past back into your hands, and reminds you that the future will be more and more different and farther and farther from your little house in the land of eagles.
Albania is changing, for the better, and this is an opportunity to show others that we are worth something, that we too, in our own small way, can give something to the world.
And if for someone the meeting with an ambassador can be an insignificant thing, a formality, for me it was all this, emotions, memories, feelings, hopes.
And for this, I can only say Thank you.
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