THE STATE OF NORMALITY
By DOINA HORODNICEANU
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© 2002 Doina Horodniceanu
I saw Marta very seldom. One night I went to her. I hoped she wasn’t home; I thought it would be easier that way. But she was there. I brought her a bunch of violets, tiny, fragile, violets. She put them in a glass on the nightstand. She still has them. We listened to Mozart, we smoked; I had her in my arms without resistance, without hesitancy, expecting anything, accepting everything. While she was closing her eyes I watched her before kissing. I wanted to make sure it’s her. There was timidity in her way of kissing but also some kind of desperation. After that something unclear, something disturbing settled between us. I didn’t have the strength to refuse, with brutality, things that life took away from me, has forbidden me.
Everywhere I went, everyone I met wanted to leave the country. They were all happy with having their own passports - symbols of freedom, waiting for their visas. Emil and Nadia left in one week. Incredible. The farewell was melancholic. I was more emotional than I needed to be considering our not too close relationship. But it was this sentiment of being left alone in a world that was closing over me. I felt abandoned. It was more than a good bye, it was a broken bridge. You didn’t know if you would see these people again and when. When would the connection be rebuilt?
I wanted to drink all the time. I wouldn’t do anything else, except drink. I wanted to forget my habitual unhappiness, my stupid doubts, my senseless remorse. I wanted to forget this life made of shreds, neglected promises, endless waiting, confused unhappiness and tired hopes. I was too old for all this.
Tudor’s pictures were works of art dominated by Anna. Indeed. The photographer’s eye, the camera, the model, everything was perfect. And the ideas. There were nudes too. The positions, the decors, the light… I found a picture with both of them, Marta and Anna, at a table on a Café terrace in a small plaza.
The people on the streets became thinner and thinner, the number of homeless children and dogs grew larger and larger along with the number of gypsies, more and more rising from an underground ruled by a wild instinct of survival.
Still from underground the miners came to put things in order, beating and killing old and young men, women and kids.
Seeing them in action today, I remembered a trip I took several years ago to the miners’ territory. I got a phone call saying I had the big honor to participate in a business trip to the Miner's Valley. To be part of a Governmental Party delegation, led by our beloved President. I was expected to report at nine o'clock in the evening to the Presidential Train Station. It was a rather cold night. We had to wait about two hours until the important officials showed up. I said a few bad words with my mouth shut because I detest people being late. I boarded the train and went directly to my sleeping car, which was double the size of those I was used to. Nonetheless, even cleaner, it was worn out, corroded, with a penetrating smell of dust and crude oil. The restrooms were impracticable.
Fifteen minutes later, the conductor let me know I was expected in the Lounge Room for an intimate party. I didn't have any desire to go, but there was no way to refuse.
It wasn’t such a bad move after all. More comfortable, that’s for sure. Heavy drapes, velvet and silk. Soft seats. In the middle of the table covered with violet damask, a caviar-pot containing about five pounds of the best quality product was dominating the atmosphere. Vodka and Champagne were good companions. Other than that, tensed and boring atmosphere. Besides me, there were seven more people; members of the Central Committee and bodyguards. All afraid, stressed out, tired. Intense silence, until someone from the escort brought up the disastrous economic situation in the country and especially the miners’ miserable lives: the lack of medicines and food, the emptiness of the stores, the absence of heat and water, the high rate of mortality. It was subversive from the beginning to the end, but since we were going there to deal with their complaints, we were supposed to be informed. Nobody approved or disapproved. How was something like this possible? It could be inappropriate, with very bad consequences; but it wasn’t. It did not have any impact, any significance. An official criticized the way the country was managed in front of the President and this didn’t mean anything to him. He didn’t need to revise, to give up, or to resist, to argue or to explain, or even to punish. It was like nothing happened.
In the morning, in front of the train station, a long line of black Mercedes cars were waiting for us. We drove between rows of men and women forced to come out on a Sunday morning to welcome the Beloved President. They didn't look very enthusiastic. We visited a Mining Museum, then we sped up to the Capitol where the President delivered his speech.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a picnic on a mountain plain. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the grass was green and the mountaintops were covered with snow. A lot of green and white, of blue and yellow. Large white sunshades covered the tables arranged in a circle. The miners’ hospitality was an art, a talent, a vocation. I couldn’t imagine something more careful, more delicate, and more discreet. Even if our purpose there was to make sure the persons we infiltrated did their jobs, we didn’t notice any animosity. Waiters dressed in folkloric customs, hunting food and wonderful old collection wines were warming the atmosphere. Fifty meters away from us, in the middle of the plain, on a stage, under the naked sky, an assembly of folk dancers played non-stop. But in the mountains, the weather changes quickly. After half an hour, clouds covered the sky and a rain started. Light in the beginning, it became heavier and heavier. The artists kept dancing and singing while the officials ignored them and continued their feast. The rain was very strong now. The dancers were completely soaked while the musicians fought with wet strings and instruments. From my dry corner I called the organizer and I asked him pretty loudly:
"Listen comrade, isn't anybody here able to stop those people from playing in the rain and tell them to go home?"
He stared at me instantly transfigured into a statue. Everyone around me did the same thing. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the look of the President. He continued his conversation but after a while he called the organizer, said two words to him and the show stopped. As well as the dinner.
The Mercedes took us back to the train station. On our way back in the Train Lounge, there was no one but me. Sitting there alone, I contemplated how a lie (it doesn’t matter how arbitrary it is) grows, enlarges, becomes system, gets shape, gets fixed points and how, starting from a certain level substitutes the facts and becomes itself a fact, manipulating the whole world including its own creator.
Out the train windows I saw the fields; bright colored in all kinds of blue, violet and mauve shades.
It was a very short one-day trip.
To be Continued...
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