25 Years Since

A bit of erasure poetry for you tonight (well, more prose than poetry), which I’m linking to that wonderfully welcoming venue for sharing poems and ideas, the dVerse Poets Pub.

It’s almost exactly 25 years since our revolution in Romania. For many years I called it a ‘stolen’ or ‘so-called’ revolution, as we saw people tarnished by their Communist and security forces links become the most vocal proponents of the free market (and profiting hugely by it). But, no matter what followed, that doesn’t diminish the magic and hope of those few days when we really believed we could change the world. I found my diary from that time and have chosen a few lines from here and there to give you a feel for the atmosphere.

 

21decembrie.wordpress.com
21decembrie.wordpress.com

Dad was called in to the office on Sunday evening.

‘Don’t send any Christmas cards abroad just now.’

Helicopters flying overhead.

In Timişoara, rubber cudgels. Bullets too, so we hear.

We’re all hoping for more.

‘No public gatherings, curfew at 8 p.m., keep your ID card with you at all times.’

The school is strangely empty, profs barricaded in the Dean’s office.

Nearly holidays but no tickets:  trains have been cancelled.

‘Those imperialistic and fascist forces trying to destabilise our fatherland.’

They’ve smashed bookshop windows and burnt Ceauşescu’s books.

They dared the army to shoot:

‘We are the people, who are you protecting?’

Asociatia21decembrie.ro
Asociatia21decembrie.ro

Rumours, rumours everywhere.

This morning he calls a public meeting, shown live on TV,

with slogan-filled banners, portraits of the Beloved Couple.

I’m on my knees, praying for something to happen.

Suddenly, someone interrupted – I heard, I heard the boos!

Utter befuddlement on his face:

‘You mean, they really don’t like me?’

Transmission cut for a few endless minutes.

radardemediaMy parents begged me not to leave the house.

‘All students should resign their party membership:

a party that can kill its own people has lost all credibility.’

Tanks rolled up, shooting continued into the night, dogs barking wildly.

No heroics, more like running, finding shelter.

Smashing glass with your bare head.

Radio switched on every few minutes.

What were we expecting?

All we heard were patriotic songs.

Fotomagazin.ro
Fotomagazin.ro

Then at 12:55 p.m. the music stopped:

‘This is Radio Free Bucharest. We have an important announcement to make.’

Appeals to go out to help, provide medical aid, electricity, food.

It feels like civil war.

I went to a hospital to offer my first-aid skills but they only took the gauze.

We want to hug. We need to run.

Trucks loaded with people, unarmed yet willing.

A joy to see how well-behaved and selfless people are,

even if enemies and sharpshooters lurk atop buildings.

In the breaks between the shooting, we help

provide free drinks.

Companionship of perfect strangers.

I drop the cherries in my pie, keeping time with the machine-guns.

This morning our block of flats was shot at:

it’s Christmas Eve.

From Cartim.ro
From Cartim.ro

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Fun: Gates, Walls and Freedom

I’ve always been fascinated by doorways and gates, especially if someone is trying to close them in front of me. I cannot resist peering in and imagining what lies beyond.

In this period of celebration of 25 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of Communist regimes in most of the East Bloc countries, events which marked me profoundly and changed the course of my life, I do wonder if the landscape we espied beyond those walls quite lived up to our euphoric expectations. Or if it ever could.

But I do know that I am forever grateful that we could open those gates and discover for ourselves.

 

The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

From Blessedwildapplegirl.com
From Blessedwildapplegirl.com

Explanation separates us from astonishment, which is the only gateway to the incomprehensible.
(Eugene Ionesco)

David Freedman sculpture gate.
David Freedman sculpture gate.

The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind. (E. B. White)

From English Spirit.
From English Spirit.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. (Albert Camus)

Architecture Art Design.
Architecture Art Design.

Look on every exit as being the entrance to somewhere else. (Tom Stoppard)

Leith Hall Gardens, from their website.
Leith Hall Gardens, from their website.

We are afraid of the enormity of the possible. (Emil Cioran)

This is dedicated to East Berliner journalist Thomas Otto, whom I met in late October 1989, and who had the first open and honest political discussion with me. ‘All you need is more choice…’

Photo from 1989, used by Prof. Sonja Kuftinec.
Photo from 1989, used by Prof. Sonja Kuftinec, Institute of Advanced Study, Univ. of Minnesota