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Monologue of old woman Nica

Excerpt from Kadare's Gjenerali i ushtrisė sė vdekur (General of the dead army). The General is one of the best works of the author.


     For these people a wedding is a sacred ceremony, the general thought, or else they would not travel all night to be present in such an event, no matter how important. It is raining a lot. In a night like this it is impossible to dig trenches, because they quickly fill with water.

     They say that you are gathering the dead of your country. You've found many of them, you'll find many more, but you should know that you'll never ever be able to find one of them, just like I'll never ever be able to find my daughter and my husband. I wish I could tell you about the one that you'll never find, but I won't do that, because I don't want to bring back memories of the war to the wedding guests. It rained a lot that night, more than tonight. There was water everywhere. It was impossible to dig the hole because it quickly filled with water, a dirty black water, it was almost as if it flowed from the night. But I was able to do it. I won't say anything though because I don't want to break the party, even if you are in it, God damn you.

     The general lit a cigarette and strangely, to him his cigarette seemed too small and impotent compared with the big and long black pipes that the old men were carrying with their wrinkled hands, smoking them between the words, as if trying to maintain the rhythm of the conversation with them.
     The owner of the house, the old man that had welcomed him in the hall, came and sat down close to the general, with a pipe in his hand like everybody else; a yellow medal kept swinging back and forth. He knew these yellow medals that he had seen on villagers' chests and it seemed to him that behind each one was the pale face of one of his army's dead soldiers.

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