We had been away for no more than two weeks. That was all it took for me and my elder son to find, once we returned, an entirely different family from the one we had known. We’d left behind a mother and a boy who seemed perfectly normal only to reunite with a couple of crusaders.
(in opening picture: One of the last explosions in the gold mine of Roșia Montana, before its closing.)
No sooner had I entered the door, all jet-lagged and well hashed courtesy of the ingenious design of the plane seats, than I realized something was on. The atmosphere felt familiar, yet it smelled like uprising. My wife was visibly limping, there was some sort of a white cylinder resembling a trumpet on the table and, when I stepped into my boys’ room, I almost tripped over a plastic bottle full of coins. Signs… Of a revolution, I would soon find out…
“So, what have you been up to lately?” I asked tentatively.
“Well, nothing much. Time flies around here: school, homework, my project… Days come and go.”
“What happened to your foot?”
“Nothing much, really. I got a blister from some shoes I borrowed from Mimi. Yesterday, with the protest march…”
“What march? Are you into demonstrations now? Have you crossed over to the Protestants?”
“We just took a walk. What would you have us do on a Sunday? Stay in? We don’t even have a TV in the house. You can’t imagine how many people we met. A quarter Cluj was there: I saw Miri with the kids, Toma and Ica, Ema and Bogan, Mimi, Vali, Adela…”
“Uh-huh, yeah… And what do you all do there when you huddle on? Just hanging out? Going for a beer afterwards?”
“What beer? No beer, this is serious business.”
“And you took the cadet along?”
“Why, sure! We walked around three districts yelling: ‘Down, Ponta, down / You’re nothing but a clown!’ and other stuff related to Rosia Montana. You should have seen Călin’s father riding his bike as a great agitator, making up slogans on the spot. We had a blast. I was blowing this vuvuzela while the kid was shaking the bottle of coins, the one you stumbled on back in the room. Check out how it sounds!
A long, shriek sound blew into my eardrums worse than the wind blowing the sails of a ship in a classic painting on a religious subject such as Rebuking the Storm. Suddenly, time zones went all the more haywire in my brains. I started to feel a little bit afraid of all this revolutionary zeal. I sat down without saying a word, fixed myself a little glass of plum brandy and poured it down the throat without even blinking, like a professional commuter who’s just got home from the factory on a frosty day.
The feeling that I was missing out reminded me of the way I once felt in primary school, when, while everybody was out in the park picking chestnuts instead of attending classes, I had to see the dentist. The next day, my classmates went on and on about the fun they’d had while I was listening to them with a crooked smile timidly showing a brandnew tooth filling. I simply couldn’t see myself in this protest marches picture.
I blamed it on the jet-lag and told myself that I would eventually come around and start feeling like rising in revolt. I would lay my hands on a scythe, a flag or at least some placard reading United! / We save…! / Down with…! / Up with…!, something, “whateva”, as kids say nowadays. After four days or so, though, I felt nothing, no chill down the spine whatsoever. One day, there was this magazine called “Apusenii liberi” lying on the sofa. Some of the authors were former college mates, at one time cerebral people with a passion for linguistics and literature. Now, they were all revolutionaries writing revolutionary texts with titles such as: Enough! / Rise, oh, ye, Apuseni highlanders! / The Protester’s Guide or Cyanide over Apuseni. I read the magazine to the letter feverishly hoping that I would finally experience the je ne sais quoi syndrome or, at least, that my heart would start throbbing a little faster. Nothing. It was obvious I was neither physically, nor emotionally prepared to become an activist. And I couldn’t figure it out why since, when the Revolution had broken out, many years before, I’d had no problem dodging machine-gun bullets.
By way of proof, when Sunday, the day of the next protest, came, I wasn’t even invited. My elder son went skating. Wallowing in the boredom of a typically Caragialesque Sunday lull, half of my family, the revolutionary faction, was bustling about trying on comfortable shoes and warm autumn clothes (the night was going to be rather chilly). Conspiracy was in the air and it smelled like the excitement of finally unchaining justice. With his plastic bottle in hand, the little one was smiling mysteriously, bearing a vague resemblance to Che Guevara. Well, viva la Revolucion, if that’s how it goes…
By Voicu Bojan, guest writer
(photos by Voicu Bojan)