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Poezii Romnesti - Romanian Poetry



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by [Dienush ]

2006-09-07  |     | 

Every afternoon the old man would baby-sit his grandchildren, George and Diana, aged nine and four. Both his daughter and his son in law, the parents of these happy innocent creatures, were at work. Grandfather Peter would often read to them until they or he fell asleep. He would sit on the chair in their small room and charm their little ears and souls with fairy-tales from the Grimm collection. The little boy and the little girl sat each on one of his knees and listened. George was already I school and would correct him when he skipped some passage. He already knew the stories by heart and would point something out about the missing lines. Diana, on the contrary, was fascinated by the reading. In her little universe, she didn’t make any difference between the real reality and fiction. She truly believed in the existence of all fairy creatures and she was very much afraid when she saw the picture of a witch, with her crooked nose and evil eyes staring right back at her, her bony hands upon a cane. She knew that it was only a picture because grandpa Peter was holding her in his arms and she felt secure. Yet, she feared an encounter with such an evil creature. She had many nightmares about it. She felt protected as long as she was home and behaved. Nevertheless, the nightmares would recur whenever she felt insecure about herself throughout time.
The 1980s were rough times for the Romanian. The young couple’s existence was speckled with worries and inconveniences. They went to work from Monday to Saturday, leaving the little ones with their grandparents. Sundays were made the best of. It was the time when all the family got together and they would sometimes play a game of rummy, the old solution or the boredom of the retired grandparents: they could play for hours just to let time fly by more easily. The little girl liked watching these championships and she wished to take part in them. But they thought her too small for it. To count, to cheat, to beat her adversaries. She probably wanted to join in for the sake of the coloured pieces. One of these Sundays she tried, as usual, in vain, to convince them she could play. They nodded disapprovingly and she was silenced one way or another by each player she approached with her plea. After the game was over she was alone with her grandfather. He wasn’t feeling that good and was trying to get some rest. As he was a gourmand, he had got fat and from a certain point his health began to shatter. He had problems when he overdid effort or when he got really emotional, rummy tensions included. He enjoyed watching his granddaughter and laughed heartily seeing her pouting little face (when she was excluded from the game) and her wish to be considered a grown up. While she approaches him, he turns on one side to face her and, after a brief moment’s consideration of his health, he gives a deep sigh. She notices it and asks him why he looks so sad. The old man tries to explain to her that she won’t have him around forever. He knows he’s going to die before having the smallest chance to see her grow. He tells her he has to go, that it’s not his choice. That it just has to happen. She attempts to talk him out of such decisions. But she tries in vain for the grey-haired man has passed into the land of dreams. His words troubled her so… she doesn’t want to believe it. She won’t admit it. Her grandpa, she thought, would be there for her forever… He could never leave her.
It’s a cold spring morning. The young mother looks tired and her eyes are sad. She calls her little girl and helps her into the top-coat she had knitted for her only about a week ago. Obviously, they were too poor to buy one. It would have been a luxury. She’ll visit her father again, this time with Diana. She had to do something about her questions about grandpa. They slowly walk to the hospital. The little girl seems immune to sorrow. She plays all the way with her new coat which she hates terribly. If only she knew what went on in her mother’s heart … As they climb the stairs the faint odour of drugs and sick people reaches them. On the left wing of the second floor they stop, then enter of room full of sick people. Diana feels a strange kind of pity mixed with the curiosity that characterizes her age. She stares at the pale-faced men in dirty night clothes, parked like old cars in a cemetery. Her grandfather is in the next room. She hardly believes that the old man sleeping in the last bed near the window, all tied up in perfusions, is her grandpa. The mother talks to one of the nurses about his condition. He had an accident last night. His right side is completely paralyzed and he lost a lot of blood because he broke his nose while trying to get out of bed. He hated hospitals with all his heart. Being in one meant death was close by. The young woman thanks the nurse and leaves the parcel of food for the old man. She too knows now there is no way of him getting any better. She knows she will lose him. She glances back at her little girl. In spite of all, she is not aware of how serious the situation is. She is the only one in the family for whom life goes on as if nothing was wrong.
Two weeks after, they took grandfather Peter out of the hospital. His wish was to die in his own home, now the home of the young couple. He stayed there for a while, and then he died, very close to Easter. Only very good men die in that time of year, Good Friday. Diana had been sent to the countryside, to her paternal grandmother. By the time she got back, they had already buried her grandpa. She felt betrayed. Angry at him, angry at them. Angry with all because they hadn’t given her any choice. That is why she pretended she didn’t care. Yet, the truth was she wished she could have had the chance to say goodbye.
Looking back at her grandfather’s death, Diana knows now that there’s nothing anyone could do. Still, there is an immense void in her heart that she tries to fill with second hand memories. She crosses herself every time when, returning home by train, she sees the cemetery where her grandfather is buried. She likes writing beautifully because he had one of the most beautiful handwritings ever. She often thinks of him saying ‘what ifs’ and her heart fills up with regrets and her eyes with tears. Perhaps because grandfather Peter was always kind with her, never got drunk in front of her, never cursed her, made her sit on her knees, shout at her or beat her. He personifies her ideal of paternal love.

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