by Julika Prifti/
Dear Dad, /
Looking for your holiday card amidst an abundance of festive designs, my gaze stayed on one that showed the image of a typewriter and the letter U circled in a silvery ring as if taken from its key set. I knew it was the right card. The typewriter reminded me of the dark metal-body Olivetti typewriter model. It transported me to our living room at the Tirana apartment on Bajram Curri Street 330/3. I was born shortly after you got the approval for our family to move in the new place. The apartment, grew old with me, as did the heavy Italian made Olivetti. We were both products of the 60-s. The card brought back memories of myself as the little girl that watched with fascination how your fingertips stroked with speed the keys that made the tiny mechanical “arms” hit the ribbon on the white sheet. It only took a few minutes for the paper to be filled with words, and perfectly lined. I used to wonder. How could the words know their places so perfectly? How could you have that power over the typewriter that responded to your commands? You spend hours typing your manuscripts or ‘putting in paper your inspiration.’ The rhythm of the key tapping filled the room and I knew it as the sound of your writing. The letter stamping from your fingertips onto the white page created words and sentences. I was jealous of Olivetti for taking time away from me. But the typewriter stood at the desk and it was rarely moved whereas I played with you in every room of the apartment, went to the park, ate ice cream and visited favorite places. I fall to sleep listening to your wonderful stories that later became books for children. At times Olivetti resembled a toy. Except it did not compare to any that Loreta and I had in our possession. Whenever I would hear the quick tapping of the typewriter, I would close my eyes and try to imagine the story you were typing. Was it the fairy tale with Albanian mythical beings or one of the memorable legends of Skenderbeu, perhaps the story of Water Droplet (Pika e Ujit) or a character from a play about our alphabet?
As I grew old, you taught me to type and work the typewriter. I remember the joy of being allowed to type parts of your manuscripts, a job that gave an immense sense of pride and maturity. Years later you got another typewriter as a prize for an award. It was a later Olivetti model, much smaller and lighter. The strangest thing for me was its color. I was convinced that a typewriter only came in the dark color of the one that I had grown to admire. I also remember the electric typewriter and others but they did not match the connection of the first Olivetti.
I feel sorry that the person that borrowed the typewriter to type his manuscript never returned it. So it will always be a memory. The first Olivetti typewriter had been part of our lives and it ‘produced’ so much of the literature you created for years in Albania.
The holiday card with the typewriter is the perfect image for preserving a memory that we share. Time and technology cannot change that.
May you continue to create and make new memories.