INDIA by RODICA ANCA
The country in which if destiny would not have been decided so, we never have gotten. The Ministry of Education didn't find any person willing to go there to teach Romanian Language at the University of Delhi. There probably the material benefits would have been minimal. How G. wasn't interested in this aspect, he offered and was nominated. The only problem were the rates at home, which had to be paid. "As much as to pay the rates we will gain", he encouraged me, and left early, we, remaining that me and Nana to go after he would have arranged with the house. Only for us two, the Ministry has allocated money for travel, I had to sell the knitting machine, the wedding rings, I gathered some money from Fine Arts Fund, also my father gave me as much as he could, and so I made the money for going. We left together with two officials from the Ministry and I have quiet calmed down, that we were leaving for the first time the country and I was afraid that I can handle it. But everything went well and we arrived in Delhi, where G was expecting at the airport.
When I was young a kind of oracle circulated from which has emerged that in the previous life I was a dancer in an Indian Temple! Maybe that's why I felt right at home in all the years I lived there.
I was shocked at first instance by the richly bloomed trees, dressed in all the colors of the world, heavy by clusters of flowers, the yellow neem, so yellow that made the days still brighter, , if such thing can be, under the bright sun of India, magnolias of all colors, from white to sanguine red, jasmines with intoxicating scent, and many others whose names I don't recall. Flowers from the University garden, alley of nasturtiums, whose flowers we counted since they began to bloom, until it could no longer be counted, being so many, pampering petted at the feet of palm trees which protected them from over from sun's heat, lilies, dahlias and countless others, some more wonderful than others.
Birdies in thousands, one singing more than another, the gils careful to defend their nests in endless war with the incorrigible and aggressive macaques, war that we've also carried, and I have to say that victory seemed to be on their side. That does not mean that we have hated the monkeys, on the contrary, I have learned to admire not only their intelligence but also the team spirit, the organization, the pleasure to play and fool, caring for brood. I loved the cows who slept on the street, we were observing the chipkalies which guarded us of mosquitoes and beetles.
But most of all I loved the people. I loved children. I loved G's students who came visiting and called me "Mother", and they spoke about their dreams, about their problems, just like to a mother.
I left there, in India, good friends, Leela, Margaret, Nilima, Esha. With Esha I resumed contact recently, and if I write this book that is because she asked me. Because I love her and India.
India, the land of spirit, country of temples, country of mystical music, country of dance, the country of gods descend among men, country of myths, country of epics.
Indian mythology has fascinated and subjugated me for the rest of my life. I love Vishnu, Krishna, Radha, Sita, but mostly I love Shiva, "our Lord of Amattur" and Parvati.
I am sorry that I couldn't visit the temples, but I discovered the library of the University. God, so many books that I wanted to read, to learn, to sum up! All old, many in Sanskrit, Hindi, and other languages that I do not know them. But even for those translated into English I would have had need at least two lives to studying. There were many, many, thousands, dust was of a finger, but as it was thicker, as more attracted me. Guide for me was Pere Danielou, with help of whom I discovered what is Indian philosophy, mythology, spirituality and thought. Then, slowly-slowly I advanced a little on this road, just a few steps, but I will never be able to thoroughgoing. Anyway, I have opened my eyes and mind to a new world, which was foreign to me until then, that is familiar to me somehow from somewhere inside my soul: the world of Indian spirituality. World where I return also now, from time to time, gladly, to search for my peace.
I was in India three times. The first time I had to go back after a year and about eight months because, surely we couldn't pay rates for apartment and had to be put out to auction .But before that the summer holiday came and Kashyap neighbors, who lived above us, sent us to his mother in the Himalayas at Dharamshala. There I saw the mountains up close and I was overwhelmed with their greatness.
We ate at Tibetans, there being also the residence of the Dalai Lama, being in exile. In addition to the Tibetan Temple skilfully and gracefully painted, the Tibetans had a canteen where took the meal a lot of Buddhist pilgrims who went daily to the temple and studied at its library.
Towards the end of the vacancy it has occurred a creepy earthquake creepy, as if the mountains would be rolled down to the Valley, which has driven us away the very next day back to Delhi.
At Dharamshala I saw and I've enjoyed the fireflies that watertight compartments were filling the air around you with their lights, as in cartoons. Jumping spiders almost as a palm, which hunted on fireflies, fire which were drawing on the hills in distances surrealist images made by as if an artist in a world above us.
Also there a cat had stolen and eaten Goguţă, the green Alexandrian parrot as if it were from jade, which I had grew since when it did not have feathers and I fed it from my own mouth, and it loved me and he came after me wherever I was. First I thought that perhaps it took its flight, that it didn't stay in the cage, I've searched for it two days, until a neighbor told me that he had seen a cat eating a parrot.
We left the mountains full of sadness and fear of the earthquake in the soul.
At Delhi we lived a meeting also with a tornado pretty strong to pull out of the roots trees with trunks of over a meter in diameter, and to put in the remaining pit a scooter with three wheels, or to throw a car over the wall which surrounded the University. It didn't last a long time, it has gone on the other side of the street, To us didn't happen anything, unlike the buildings and trees across the street. After the tornado has abated, the sky was filled with colors from golden to orange, pink, red, purple, and green. It was another wonderful hypo-stasis of sky which I saw, after that red, from after the bombardment of childhood. But for this beauty I paid tribute of an allergy that I was swollen both inside and out for about two months.
But we had to leave out urgently, if not wanted to remain without the house.
I left G alone there and I went with Nana to see how could we solve the problem, not to stick on the street. For airfare G loaned and paid after remained alone. I've found a designer post at a design center and I resumed payment of rates.
The second time we stayed longer, from 1980 to 1984. This time I paid for tickets depositing at the Fine Arts Fund for sale a few dresses and other pieces of clothing and accessories, the money I borrowed from a friend and she recovered it from the sale of them. I left home some young students who have paid for a time the rates, then paid also my father, after they fled leaving behind the mess of dirt, unpaid debts to the electricity, debts at maintenance. Good luck with the dad who walked together with Ionuţ Iuga on the Writers to get a loan and paid from the debts.
We were happy there, in India. Now Nana went to school, learned Hindi and English pretty well, and has made friends, G organized for them in our home lessons of music with a professor of harmonium, workshop of drawing, team of theater, with the music lessons of harmonium, a Professor of drawing, workshop theater. All children were happy and passionate about this kind of play, and I hope that sometimes they may remind of G, of Nana and of time of childhood. These three years have been very beautiful for our lives. Here I've known my friends, intellectual of class, university professors, very cult and very friendly, which have accepted and treated me as someone of their own. Esha has helped me find something working for Oxford University Press, for which I did the illustrations in textbooks for school in Bhutan, out of what I won, G has managed to print a couple of books, which made him happy.
Nana had attached so strong of children, teachers, neighbors, the nature of India, that when we returned to the country, complained reproaching with me: "where did you brought me, this is not my country! Let's go back! "
During these years the life in the country was hard and sad. The Communist power had its height, had begun to erode, creaky. Voices ariose at congresses of the party against the dictator and, which is surprising, were given on the television broadcaster, which no longer had ever happened. People spoke in whispers about the food queues, on the number of eggs that had been right, about the bread that you could buy only with identity bulletin, about the oranges which were found only once a year, on the eve of Christmas, if you were lucky to not end before your turn came, you made happy the children back home. Even if the food was not too expensive, it was instead too little! The endless queues at that you expected for hours without even being sure that you will have the chance to be not finish before you get to the seller, queues to which we set still before opening stores, hoping that you will buy something to eat, what would have been, any. No longer doing trifles that I not want this, I want the other. You took what was given to you, paid and said a soul thank! There was nowhere coffee Ness, I found rarely at those who were doing smuggling, at some insulting prices, but I paid, I could not say that we take from somewhere else cheaper, because there was not that other part.
Then, in the approach of l989 Christmas, everything broke out at once! I worked by then at the Court of Glass Blowers, on the street Selari in the old center, very close to the University, Piatsa Palatului / Market of Palace. During the morning of December 18 or 19, I was gone at Institute of technology, where we had some works to be burned in a furnace from there. When I returned to the Court, I didn't fin but a colleague. All people had been sent to the party's Central Committee to a meeting. After a few hours they returned three colleagues panting frightened, saying that there is shooting in those who participated at the meeting. We all freaked out and I decided to return home, which I did. Only one of us, Ani, stopped at University Square, where they had gathered the people at another meeting, spontaneously. And remained there until late, when just had rung her husband to ask me if I know what happened to her, that she had not yet reached home. I told him what I knew and he said that will go after her It seems to me that she got home before he could leave.
The next day all the Center was full of people, came to protest, and on evening Ceauşescu fled with a helicopter from the terrace of Central Committee. In fact I have seen what happened, on television, in the evening journal. From then on everything was general madness, of which only a few understood and knew what was going to happen.
Ceauşescu was caught, he, his wife, and taken to an army unit from Târgovişte, it was made a simulacrum of a process in which it was let to speak, was accused of oppressing the people, sentenced to death and executed by firing squad, along with his wife. Immediately the power was taken over by the Communists in the second row, we were glad that we escaped of the dictator, but they were baking something to us which will had to disappoint us for years and years in a row, and neither now we didn't find our road and peacefulness. After twenty-three years, we are still stammering on twisting pathways of democracy and of misunderstood freedom.
In the spring the young people, realizing the great hoax of December, started a perpetual meeting started in the University Place. perpetual. For two months, days and nights, they didn't leave from there, they slept in tents. Bucharestians brought them food, over the day thousands of people joined them, students, pupils, and even and pensioners, like me. Nana, her colleagues, and some professors went every day there after lyceum hours. The meeting was peaceful. All elite people, teachers, writers, intellectuals, all who had hoped for a prosperous country, a life in freedom, a happy people.
One of the balconies of the Faculty of Geology, starting to market, was open and from there anyone with something to say, say it to all. Romantic-revolutionary songs composed by singer-authors loved by everyone gathered there - Cristian Paţurcă, Vali Sterian, Andrieş and many others - elevated our souls and heated our hearts. There have been days full of euphoric hope.
Cristian Paţurcă has composed 'The Hymn of Golans", on verse by Vali Sterian, of which refrain I remember:
Better be loafer than a traitor!
Better Hooligan than dictator!
Better be Golan than activist!
Better dead than Communist!
Unfortunately both died shortly after two or three years in full youth!
The University became a "free zone by new-communism”, and the meeting was called "Golaniada".
But power was watching. It spoke of hooligans, promiscuous. The rest of the country believed what they said on TV, and they condemned the demonstrators. It started a devilish conter-propaganda and the new head of the state called the miners from Jiu Valley, "to make order in the capital", to clean the University Square of hooligans and to plant pansies in the square in front of the national theater.
For Bucharestians it was offending and frightening. In the morning, on their way to Court of Glass Blowers, on the street, the miners (or whatever were they) were chasing a Gypsy child that they caught him beaten and thrown into a van. A colleague who had come to the service a little later, had assisted to the same treatment applied to another child and shouted to them not to beat any more the poor kid. Immediately some three bullies took after him. The colleague ran into the Court, passed as lightning through the downstairs workshop, jumped over the window toward another little street and was gone. The aggressors entered after him, they didn't get that he had jumped over window, they searched everywhere, but have not found him. They left threatening that will teach a lesson to the"wretched Liberals\"what we were, who I was, because we had stuck on all the windows of the inner court posters with Campeanu, the head of the Liberal Party.
They walked on streets armed with baseball, and immediately they viewed some young man wearing jeans, bearded or fancied something suspicious, it took them to beating. At least in the University Square it was massacre. Hordes armed with bats beaten anyone who was or just passed by there. They had identified, caught and beaten on Marian Munteanu, head of the students, who was taken to hospital by other people in the Place. I saw him in the evening at TV news. Countless people beaten, broken, with bloodying wounds have arrived at the hospital Colţea, where reporters transmitted almost continuously.
G. came to take me home from work and the streets were full of papers, official documents, thrown on the Windows of the Ministry of the Interior, which had been conquered. Anyway, I believe that this conquest of the capital center has meant more than the "cleansing" of the Place.
After a few days, as the miners were not thinking to leave, the head of state, who had called them, thanked them on our behalf, of all, that they have saved us by "hooligans" and have restored order in the capital.
The miners have come, also another time when they stormed the Council of Ministers and thrown down the then Prime Minister came down since then. They also attacked attacked also the soldiers who came to temper them, because they had started to Bucharest, this time being not called.
Each time there were dead, injured, children left orphans, destruction and looting. After the first mineriad, the young dead were buried at Străuleşti, many, it is not even known how many. As for those killed in the revolution of December, it was necessary to have a new cemetery, with hundreds of white crosses, besides I pass whenever I go into the Center.
Over twenty years have passed since then since then, but we still we wonder if revolution or coup d ' état, as it is by the most people, has brought any good to the country or if we were and we still are manipulated, intoxicated and brain washed.
But the dreams, hope and love for the country and the freedom have remained in hearts also today, unfulfilled, and I hope that will not to take with us also on the other world. It would be too sad.
What's curious is that the revolution had killed about thousand people, and today their successors are in number of tens of thousands (due to material benefits, tax exemptions, and other facilities provided by the following Governments as a reward for supporting the "revolution" that is those who have gained the power in order to support them further). The former head of State, now more than 80 years old, is their chief and organizer and calls all in a meeting at the University Place against the current President of the country, hoping to suspend him from the Presidency, since they just have overturned the Government which was not on their liking, and put themselves, followers of communists, at power. Now, get hold, Romanian people, how many blessings will flow over your head. Or maybe you forgot all for a bread, a liter of oil and three small sausages!
The third time I went to India in September 2003 and I stood only six months.
In the spring of 2004 had begun to prepare the war in Iraq. I was gripped by fear and didn't want any more to stay far from home, so that in April I went out from India. At the airport, even before we took on, it was announced on TV the onset of the war. But I got home without further inconvenience than confiscation of cigarettes and matches before we climbed on the plane to Delhi.
In this last stay in India, I got reunited with Esha, with her daughters, Radha Tara; with Leela and her youngest daughter, Shama; with Margaret Chaterjee, Nilima and Neetu, their daughter and niece.
I was happy to travel again for the last time, in the country which subjugated my soul on forever, which entranced me with her beauties, with its welcoming people and nature.
On first January 1991 I retired, I was 53 years old. The new power passed a decree that those who were 50 years of age and had 25 years of activity, were entitled to get a pension. Why should I expect any more? I was in power, hoped that, at last, to work also for my soul, to participate in exhibitions, to break out of any obligations. But only that it was not to be after my desire. I worked a few services and some frills, seen as minor by some and others who have had the luck to open small businesses and workshops, hoping to gain at least money for materials, combustion, exhibitions. Just that I was not paid as much as I had hoped, I worked in precarious conditions, and, from somewhere, I don't know how, I contracted tuberculosis and all my dreams of artist went on the water slipping away!
My illness was not fatal, I escaped especially due to Nana who, seeing that it did not pass my"coolness"since about three months, she dragged me to the doctor and well did. After three months of hospitalization and treatment they gave me the way home and after another six, I was completely recovered. Only that I'd lost half of power I have had. But I can say that I escaped easily. It was going through 1993.
Somehow, with luck, with the help of heaven, I fooled both disease and pension fund, that behold, after twenty years, they are still obligated to pay me. Union boss asked me jokingly, when I was taking farewell from my colleagues: “Mrs. Anca, are you not afraid that these guys put something in your pension?" See that they didn't put it! Or they did but did not succeeded! I was stronger!
Less luck had Cristina, friend and colleague of faculty and service. She died of cancer two years later. It was hard and heart-breaking to see her how suffer and how extinguishes. I suffered after her as after a sister.
Translation by George Anca