An Encounter in Tirana
Photo by Thomas Maluck/flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

An Encounter in Tirana

Olya Stoyanova
time 16 minutes

After his death, his father kept on living in Tirana. No, there’s no mistake, he did.

It was three days ago that he’d arrived in Tirana for the first time. It was an early morning in an unfamiliar city. The bus stopped somewhere downtown, the driver started gesturing and explaining something incomprehensible while the rest of the passengers readied themselves to get off.

“That’s the last stop?” he asks in English. “There’s no bus station?”

“Here. Here.” Probably that’s what the driver was trying to say or at least that’s what he managed to make out of his gesticulations. Eventually he gave up arguing with him and just got off.

He picked up his backpack, slung it over his shoulder and glanced at his watch: it was exactly 5 a.m. What is one supposed to do in a city at 5 o’clock in the morning? It’s still dark, the street lights lengthen the shadows, the city is deserted. The bus doors slid shut and the vehicle drove away; he walked off in the opposite direction. In a while he turned around to see what the other passengers were doing but his eyes found no one. It was as if they had dissipated into the dark. The street was once again deserted.

Welcome to Tirana. He was greeted by TIRANA INTERNATIONAL HOTEL emblazed in neon lights.

He had never dreamed of visiting Tirana. Not that he minded doing it. But it was just an unfamiliar city, it was as if you raised your finger and pointed it at a random location on the world map. Tirana? Yes, so here’s the place where the next dental medicine post-graduates’ meeting was taking place. They were going to have three days to attend lectures, to make a short scientific announcement, to attend two official dinners, a seminar and that was all. Then they would say “¡Adios!”.

It was hard for him to pinpoint exactly where he was at that moment. He took his phone out of his trouser pocket and tried to connect to a mobile


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