The Three Fotevski Brothers

Summer 1947. It was a hot summer day; the rocks were cracking in the heat. The green grass in the Rudarci meadows was as high as the waist. Rudarci villagers - like the other villagers of Prespa - were cutting the grass. They were gathering the hay, one of the most important foods for the livestock in winter. In "Gradenata Livada" near the street was the meadow belonging to the deceased Simo Fotevski. His two fatherless boys Joshe and Spiro, who had known the struggle for a crust from a young age, were cutting the grass there.

The first son of baba Simojca - Joshe, born in 1918 was dark, with dark eyes, tall, with broad shoulders, a fit and well-developed man. He firmly held the blade in his calloused hands and, a little bent over, cut the grass and did not stand until he had finished. After him went his younger brother Spiro. He rushed to try and reach his brother. Spiro was a thin, tall and wiry boy, quick witted and shrewd. He always wanted things to be done well and on time.

From time to time they lifted their heads and carefully listened. From Vigla and Vich thunder could be heard.

"A terrible battle is being fought," said Joshe, "As you can see, our side is putting in a great effort."

"Yes!" answered Spiro and continuing, told his brother that that night more Rudarci villagers had left to join the partisans. "When will we go?"

Next to the village in the locality "Lajshta" was their brother Fote with the sheep. He was the third brother in line, born in 1925. He was shorter, rounder, fat, with a red shepherd's face. Fote sat on a rock with his bag over his shoulder and whistled one of his favourite old Macedonian songs:

Old grandpa is herding sheep
Herding sheep, playing the kaval flute
Playing the kaval flute and speaking
Where is Dame, Where is Goce
Where are the old freedom fighters?

* * *

Around him are the sheep that are peacefully grazing. Near him, a bit to the side, sits his loyal helper Sharko.

Along the wide road "Sv. Nikola" which leads to the wide meadows there hurried a woman with a baking tray on her head with a wooden buckle on her shoulder and with a distaff at her waistband. She was wearing a wide Prespa-style shegun ("sleeveless coat") and as she hurried she was sweating and redening from the great heat. She was hurrying to get the warm zelnik [large pie with vegetable filling] as soon as possible to her sons who were tired from the heavy work.

The embittered mother arrived. Exhausted from her hurried walk - over half an hour - she went straight to the shade of a walnut tree where she left the things for the grass cutters. Even before she sat she called to them with motherly gentleness: "Come on sons, come on and have a bit of lunch; I have brought you some warm zelnik and fresh water."

The two brothers joined her, smiling and wiping the sweat from their faces with a colourful hankie. They sat down to rest and eat under the walnut tree's shade. They ate and spoke for a while with their mother. They spoke about the noise that was coming from Vich, about the partisans, the struggle…

Once they finished eating and rested, they stood and continued their work. The meadow was big and they had to come back another day. But another job waited for them the next day... That is why they rushed and worked until late into the night and finished the whole meadow. They cut the grass, they said goodbye to the meadow and set off for home.

The next day they did not go to the meadow to gather the hay. They left for Vich, the place from where the noise reached them.

All three brothers - Joshe, Spiro and Fote - joined the ranks of DAG. They fought bravely and all three fell on the altar of liberation - Fotevski, the three sons of baba Simojca, the dear old mother from Prespa. With thousands of pains and suffering that bitter widow raised them and when the time came for them to help her in her old years, she gave them up to the great mother - the land of our birth.

V Fotevska


From: For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters

© 2009

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For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters