When I was beating him at chess, my dad would complain that I played ugly.
Mean, he said. If he was winning, I was not very bad either! Few days after I
was admitted at the Faculty of Mechanics he died, so when I came to Craiova, full of high Engineering ideals, home was emptier and sadder.
Our little garden was
still brimming with raspberries and flowers, snails were hiding in the jasmine
bush on the fence (how come I never thought to tear off their eyes?), but the
wood shed (empty, otherwise), the summer kitchen and the house even were
showing conspicuous signs of old age.
Occasionally, my mother
was pausing from doing the laundry, ironing shirts and handkerchiefs - or even
flowers for Corina's botanical album - and she was sitting next to me on the
steps in front of the house. We were smoking together a Cismigiu (she was the
one who taught me how to avoid to inhale).
"You, Geta, hurry,
the coffee has swelled out of the pan", we would hear the frightened voice
of our neighbour.
Or the serious one of a
child: "You, daddy, youron?" "Youron, you!", was approving
with royal deference the man.
"Where are you going,
Gaz?" yelled my mother after our tomcat starting towards the attic
inhabited by pigeons.
would answer a passer-by from the street beyond the tall fence.
I would tell her that
Reagan and Gorbachev were to meet at Reykjavik, she would answer that in a few
weeks we would be allocated a flat and this was the source of all our
The most beautiful girl in
town was living in a block of flats, next to the Botanical Garden, but to the
theatre I went by myself, with two tickets, and the whole of the show I glanced
from the corner of my eye to the empty place at my side.
At lectures I would sit
next to the Iranian Ibrahim, who from a line of the Maths professor: It was
noticed that the derivative of function f(x) equals e to the 2x can be
calculated as follows..., would write down only It was noticed, which was in
any case more than the Syrian Mahomed. That one did not like to write, he was
always sharpening a stick with a pocket knife.
In the practical
demonstrations, the practice Dean would introduce us in the mysteries of pure
Engineering. We would hide behind an oven, in the forging department of the
factory the heat was disconcerting, the guys were counting movies seen on the
Serbian Television, Sebi was singing Go Johnny go moving as if he were
holding a real guitar, he would ask me if I had listened to Grass through
hair - The other words, I would tell him that I had the LP and we would
sing together while Rila was telling us that there was a guy in the student
residence who sold videos and had Madonna's clip - Like a Virgin -
reason for him to be melancholy, because he had never met a girl who could have
been described by this attribute, we were going to football matches, Lung would
land at Fofana's feet, battered buses were taking us to pick apples, where
again we would sing, get drunk and smoke like Turkish men, and in the meantime
we would take those damned exams, see bad movies, read newspapers full of
falsities and try to understand how the world was and how you could pass a
philosophy exam with two ducks and as many bottles of Drobeta brandy.
A flat we were allocated
only one year later.
I remember the cold, the
hunger, the tinned fish and white nights when I would draw with a Skribent
geometry set all sorts of car parts listening to Joe Cocker on a German radio
On top of the horse-pulled
vehicle that was carrying part of our stuff, under curious scrutiny from those
neighbours who had not rushed into the deserted courtyard to collect the
aerial, the building materials, sack-fulls of useless things, to uproot the
rosebushes or the few young trees, I knew that I would never be an Engineer.
My mother was probably
very upset because of this, I was still thinking about that meeting in Iceland, and I did not dare to talk to her about a journal for which I hoped one day to
write freely, like a butterfly.
"Who would be, then,
the child with the broom?", I wondered while the driver whipped the horses
and our old district was left behind. [...]
from The Steps in Front of the House, LiterNet Publishing House, 2002)