Guest writer Yvette Larsson shares a new piece from her upcoming book A Window to My Soul about her first encounter with Romania. In this piece, she takes another snapshot of communist Romania through the eyes of a Swedish girl.
Ever since Mihai was 12 years old and eagerly listening, in silence, with his grand-father to the radio station Radio Free Europe, Mihai planned his escape from Romania. It was strictly forbidden to listen to Radio Free Europe. You didn’t even needed to be caught in the act listening to the station. It was enough if a neighbor or somebody else ratted you out to the Securitate to get arrested and beaten until you would admitted it. Oh yes. Read that again. Beaten until you admitted it.
Mihai wanted to escape Romania in order to have a better life, a life in freedom, to live life in a place where human rights were acknowledged. At the age of 12 he realized this.
Mihai was lucky because languages came easy to him. He excelled in English at an early age. In his 6th grade he was studying Russian, Italian and French, but moved schools in the second semester because he wanted to learn English too. Already in the third semester he was the best in class in English.
To say he was motivated is an understatement.
Mihai was quite short, with black, short hair and brown eyes like a St Bernard dog. Eye-lids hanging down a bit. Later I found out that he was training for athletics, just like I did, and loved running.
Mihai was the youngest of the five boys I met at that hotel terrace in Mamaia, and was one year older than I was. What struck me now, is how clearly I remember his strong drive.
Looking back at that moment it is obvious that he would be someone who would later, as an adult, strive hard to live his life in freedom.
Some things never change. The core of who we are.
That night I didn’t notice, but Mihai took a few walks, and later told me how he got really good at “avoiding the cops” . At the age of 14 years old. Because Romanians were not supposed to speak with strangers. In Sweden 14-year olds didn’t have to think about that at all.
By Yvette Larsson, Guest Writer
Yvette Larsson is Swedish, born 1972 in Gällivare, Lapland. Between the years 1991- 1998 she studied English, Swedish, Education, Media & Communication and Science Journalism at the University of Umeå.
The University studies followed by one year in Stockholm and 13 years abroad. First overseas move was to French Reunion Island, followed by Stavanger/Bergen:Norway, Cassis/ Aix-en-Provence: France, London: UK, and now Copenhagen: Denmark.
Her continuous education constitutes of numerous courses within the field of Sports and Health and she dedicated ten years to Sports Management. When the children came she trained to become a Coach and Leadership Trainer, passionate about making individuals and organisations the best they can be, and she had her own practice for four years.
(photo source: Photoxpress.com)