Rizah Gruda (1946), Guci, resident in Novi Pazar (Part II) Old Histories from old peope -Histori të vjetra me njerëz të vjetër- Stare priče starih ljudi
Rizah Gruda (1946) Guci, resident in Novi Pazar from July 2019
Now I want I talk about myself and my family. Let me tell you – in the patriotic aspect, I’m pretty much in love with my hometown. Our men in that area, that is, in the Cursed Mountains, those people are very strongly connected to their homeland. I am also very connected; I never forget my hometown, my own people. For every summer, even in case of grief and joy, we gather, and I still recommend our people to be together. To think about their own people, to help each other. Even today, the people of Plav and Guci are still found spread in all the Meridians, and even when they are asleep, they think about their homeland. The same happens with my former students, organizing various excursions, and visiting “The springs of Ali Pasha Gucia” and other natural beauties. They come here from all over the world to enjoy those natural beauties.
Every glance of those natural beauties rests your eyes. I feed, my territory is my inspiration. If I were to be born again, I would say, “My mother could you please give birth to me again in Guci.” That would be my advice. This place brought up great wise people.
If you ask any Albanian from Southern, Middle and Northern Albania: Which is the “head” of Albania? You will get they will immediately get the answer “Plav and Guci. Why do they say so? Here the “brains” of the nation are born, with clean faces, and strong character. They were never surrendered. Our great people dared to say “No” even to the Great Powers. They also told No to the decisions of the Congress of Berlin and the great powers. Ali Pasha Guci turned to Sultan: Give them you land in Anatolia, this land is ours. Without blood shed we will not hand it over. Then for 34 years that region remained independent. The New York Times and many other newspapers have written about what happened.
I can tell you that even when Slobodan Milosevic came to power in the 1980s, Plav and Guci told him, “No, you can’t, you can’t be here, forget this!” So our people, even though small, knows how to protect itself, knows who it is, what it was, and what protects. This nation has always defended its honor and has never benefited from the misfortunes of others. When someone from Sanjak, migrated to Turkey, in Ankara he wrote: I miss so much Guci and I feel sorrow about the blessed land of Ali Pasha, where is the grave of the beloved Alia, and whom Gucia’s mother raised him with breast milk. These are the words of our man who wrote from Ankara. This speaks about his deep nostalgia for his homeland.
Now to come to my traditional vertical family (who is my family.
We have always been a wealthy family. But with the occupation of Guci and Plav in 1912-1913, the new invaders claimed to have liberated us, I ask them who did you liberate us from? I’m here, I’m not Turkish. But they destroyed all we had created for centuries. Then a period of difficult life started, you can’t rejoice when everything from our home was looted. Plav and Guci until the Serb and Montenegrins occupation have been economically viable in the commercial and agricultural terms. Two days after the entry of the Montenegrin Serb troops in the area, the best well-equipped houses, were looted and destroyed by the new invaders. They left behind empty houses and destruction. Then the difficult position followed, the Second World War, our position in the newly established Kingdom of Yugoslavia. We were not accepted as a nation, but only as a religious community in that Country. Against all odds and prejudices, although our people took part in all the wars, soon after we were kicked. After World War II, I remember as a child we had the same status. In this, period there were no rich people.
My father was an imam; he exercised the function of imam. The socialist government has not rewarded them for the work done. The congregation has paid for the services of the imams. In this situation I realized that this is not right, it can not go like this. I learned that the municipality was giving scholarships for education. At that time the scholarships were not given immediately, but with long delays.
In Prizren where I enrolled in school, I lived on the so-called “Metohi” Street, which was later renamed. I lived together with a good man called Avdi Krasniqi who worked in a construction company. For a whole year I did not make any payment to him. I was quiet and obedient; I helped him, just to finish the studies, until I got the scholarship. When I received the scholarship, I paid him the debt, which he never mentioned to me. I am thankful for ever to him for his help. While during the summer vocations I used to go home and work doing construction with my hometown people all over Montenegro. As a high school student, I was able to write, keep records, and do other jobs. So for three months work I earned enough money needed to continue my education in Prizren.
I used to study until 1 o’clock after midnight, At that time all students from different settlements of Sanjak, as well as other students from different parts of Kosovo used work at the train station in Prizren unloading various packages and goods from trains, as well as harvesting grapes, sugar beets where we earned some petty cash money for our studies. This is how our generation has survived, and I have never felt complexed (inferior) for doing such jobs. We were happy. I gladly did those jobs. I was happy to make my father’s budget easier to pay for my school. After the first school year, I started to receive the scholarship in time, without delays, but only after the intervention of the school director Rajko Radovic and later Riza Ali.
I was a good student of the Teacher’s School; I have been a member in all sections. There were days when we didn’t have anything to eat for lunch, but I didn’t tell to anyone, because my friends shared their bread with each other. I also shared bread with others when I had. There was solidarity among us. We had the opportunity to go to the cinema once a month. Twice a month we went to the Ballo-matin organized by the school youth.
Prizren is a city that has left many traces in my memories and me. A city of young people, a city that should serves as an example of what tolerance is. How good the people were, how humane that people were, the Turks, the Albanians, the Serbs. It was the city with well dressed people. The rare beauty of Prizren was displayed during the market days when people used to come for shopping from different parts and areas wearing very rich costumes, both men and women. I could say Prizren is the most beautiful city in Kosovo and in the Balkans, displaying high culture, with indescribable hospitality. It is a well-known saying about Prizren and its people: If you wish to be our guest, “Please yourself with what God has provided us, bread, salt and pleasure”. This is a tradition of our people.
Let me tell you, the political elite of this region and of the whole of Yugoslavia has not been broken at once, but gradually. Somehow, it is not seen who is what. I have had sincere friends in my generation, with whom I have worked and played. No one cared if someone belonged to another nationality, or another religion. Nobody has looked at these things at that time.
Let me tell you. It seems some of them have hidden hatred at that time, later they have exploded showing the real face and hatred for other. I am the same Riza Gruda, but when I entered the political scene, to protect the rights of my people, they told me what you want Riza in the SDA (PAD), why aren’t you in the SPS, I tell them: Listen SPS is not my program. The right time came, I am who I am me and here I take care about myself and my people. Think, my colleagues, I was the same person, but they didn’t look at me with the same eyes.
They just treated me like their enemy. I am not an enemy of anyone, enemy of none, I just wanted as a teacher, professor, as a human being to fight for our human and collective rights and freedom. And then, according to their documents at the Parliament, our rights were written for us, but in practice they were not applied. For example, let me tell you about the Bosnian people, they are the only people in Europe who have been left without institutions and without a name of their own. Others imposed them another name. This is the policy of assimilation of all regimes. The people that do not have cultural or scientific institutions are destined to die. Now as time goes on, as new relationships are being created, things are going on a happening differently. So today from this distance I have tried to think, to call back to my memory and experience and to give the right advice to people.
Even when I worked as a teacher, my students have not been discriminated. Even today I am keeping the same way of life as I always have been doing. But to say this, as long as I was a member of the Serbian Parliament where I represented my people, believe me, when I presented myself, most of them had a negative attitude towards me. They did not like what I was presenting and speaking for. To tell you the truth, I was insulted and cursed at the Parliament, me and Nasuf Behluli, Alija Mahmutovic and others, Hungarians and others too. Both the opposition and the majority, of the parliament had the same attitude towards us, national minorities.
They have written in their Constitution to be equal, but on the other hand they do not allow you to be equal. There have even been cases where my microphone has been seized, stopped to make it impossible for me to speak. The truth hurts them (Serbs). I have often given them arguments not written by me. I quoted Dimitrije Tucovic, what he wrote, about what they did, what genocide their rulers and then government exercised against other nations. They say he was a traitor. I return to them, how can Dimitrije Tucovic, known for socialist ideas, then be a traitor, then Svetozar Markovic, Then they said “it is not ours”. I told them – how is it its not yours… But when one of them speaks the truth (Serbs) they do not count him or her as their own people.
I am for dialogue and negotiation. The younger generation should be recommended to be dislocated. To set points. Extension is holding us back. What needs to be resolved is to be resolved now, not to leave it for future generations. We need to be more responsible to the Bosnian and Albanian people and others, so that there are no more human losses. Give everyone what they deserve. No need to build further myths and legends.
The world is not what it once used to be. New values, the circulation of ideas and capital must be embraced. In the future no one will ask about your name, but about your actions. No one will accept you in the company if you do not have knowledge of work for it, even if he is your brother. This has to happen if you want this Balkan society to be part of an integrated Europe. These things must be stopped. There is no guarantee, nor do our lives have a guarantee. Everything is produced in a certain time. I appeal to historians, geographers, those dealing with ethno genesis, to put aside vulgarization. No more insults and no curses. All those people who insult and curse are vulgar are powerless. They are insecure people. Such are psychopaths. Now we have to talk only with scientific arguments. Science is only science to tell the truth, only scientific arguments, what is not proved, did not exist.
Let me tell you, I react calmly to such people, without any emotion. With my attitude and my behavior I do not allow anyone to discriminate us. Nor do I discriminate anyone else.
As for my past, I have to be realistic and honest. Wherever I have been, with students, friends, wherever I have worked I have never sought privileges. I have also been in various functions. My doors are open everywhere. As a person, as a Muslim believer, as a declared Bosnian, I cannot say that anyone threatened me, other than the period when the Serbs raised their heads, when the situation was difficult, I was threatened in the city of Belgrade, when there was euphoria there.
Over time people started reasoning. Some may react quickly because they understand that they were wrong. For some others it takes decades to open their eyes. There are those who think reasonably while flying. Then they apologize. We are obliged to forgive, to make “halall” to humans. Nothing is won through hatred. He who shows hatred towards others, hatred will kill himself one day. Young people and everyone else need to understand that nothing comes through hatred. Never let yourself to hate others. It is said, “If you think evil, it will be returned to you in an evil.”
In man himself, even in his own family, there is a position and opposition; everything depends on how man is lined up. People need to be negotiated, as well as in the family with the wife and children and in general. People make silly statements And they don’t even know what they said. There are many who do not know. Just because they don’t know, they get frustrated. Today there is a media war; special wars are in the mode. The internet is a good tool. I suggest young people to be careful in their vocabulary, let them tell people what they feel. Don’t intimidate them for their thoughts, for things that you don’t like in them. You have to argue the opposite, but not to be threatened and hated. Do not use bad words. The bad word is a bad deed. In our area it is said: “The wound heals, but the bad word does not.”
Let me tell you that my family, my dad never raised his voice. He was a democrat and a humanist. Everyone loved him, everyone in my area. My mother has been strict. When I was little boy, my mother told me, “Daddy’s coming for you.” Look at what a pedagogical saying. She created the cult for the father. “Father is father.” My father used to say to me: “My son, for the for goodness sake, keep everything there with you, be careful not to do anything, for which we all could be ashamed of “. I told him, Dad, don’t worry. In farewell words, he used to say “God helped on your way”
When I came here to Novi Pazar, I brought a suitcase of books like V. Nazor with books in hand. What else could I bring? I came with a suitcase and nothing else, but books. I got an apartment to live. I found Novi Pazar to be of the same mentality, our tribes, and the same ones that had populated these areas. As it was called “Mountain Stream”. All the tribes had come from those lands, where I came from. And they had populated most of Sanjak. Some come earlier some later. The same Customs, the same habits, the dresses, the scent of meatballs etc are all the same.
Translated; Jonuz Kola
I tried to be as close as possible faithful to the Original
New Jersey, 11 May 2020