A Collection of Short Stories
It is psychologically proven that the first seven years of our lives (the so-called early formative years) have a huge impact on our later adult life. These are the years when our parents´ believes and dogmas find a way in our own personality and fasten themselves. Not only our parents play a huge role, but also, the society in which we were born, with its wide range of roles and with its own mentality: they engrave our minds, thus determining the direction our lives take.
“You are what you believe,” is by now a very popular saying and I fully agree with it. I also believe in the fact that the direction our life takes lays within our own power, and it is up to us to feel like a victim of our background or to take that background and build a unique version of ourselves.
I grew up in a highly institutionalized and repressive communist country, learning that life consisted only of restrictions and obedience, that walking the path every generation before me had walked, and my own generation was being trained to walk, was the only way the direction of life should take for everybody, no exceptions.
The school, the church, the government, the laws – everything was there for one purpose: to make us an obedient, respectful nation, and that is exactly what our parents and grandparents were. That is what we were also trained to become. That is what I was becoming, successfully.
I was twelve years old when the revolution came. Looking back now, I know that everything that happened during my childhood and early teenage years took place in a sort of bubble. For us, children, it was a safe bubble as we could not grasp the meaning of it. We were happy children. Also, for most grownups, those times were normal. I believe, most of those people started to realize what they went through decades after the revolution took place.
During those days, the purpose of the television was to repeatedly remind us how prosperous our country and how lucky our nation was to be living in our dictatorial community. There was no possibility whatsoever to compare this way of life to other countries or nations, as leaving our country was simply not possible. There was some exception when applying for vacation in foreign countries (these were exclusively Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Germany) was possible but it meant going through a series of nonsensical bureaucratic processes, which, in the end, did not even guarantee a visa. As a result of this, only a very limited group of people had seen other countries and slightly other forms of living. I remember we had a family friend who had been privileged to visit China a couple of times. For us, the stories he used to talk about this far away country were impossible to grasp: the Chinese traditions and way of life seemed so unreal to us, and we were convinced that those stories must have been made up by the friend´s imagination.
In lack of comparison is simply impossible to truly understand the situation you are in. Everything is normal and only a few people, at least in my entourage, were questioning the truth about the way we were living.
Those years of my early life, though now very far away, are still quite present in my memory and in my feelings. I had established physical distance to my motherland, but emotionally I was there every day. For the last twenty years of my life, I constantly felt as if my body was inhabited by two different persons. On the one hand, a young girl who was constantly obeying the rules of the society she left back in Romania, even if she physically had been living in Germany. This girl felt numb and powerless every time she visited her family. It was as if she had never left. She became every single time a child again, disposed at the mercy of everybody´s opinion. She was subject to constant criticism, even by people she did not know, for being different and not following the normal path of life.
On the other hand, this body was dwelled by a young grownup woman who managed to build a life for herself in a foreign land, with foreign people and a language she did not speak. She could experience independence and get to know a different form of thinking and living compared to the one she left behind. With time, this young woman managed to acquire the confidence she always lacked and became, each year that passed by, stronger and stronger.
My intention with these short stories is not only to show my readers a world that I lived in like a child but also present the raw reality of those times and how they impacted my whole personality. Some of the stories are very colorful and full of innocent joy, such as the events of entire days when we, as children, were inventing plays by ourselves, spending all our time outside without even the darkness of the evening being able to drive us into the four walls of our homes. Also, the sense of community and the mutual help among people was a positive characteristic of those times, which up to today make me feel melancholic when I think of them.
Other stories, however, are very much in black and grey. These describe the negative oppressive mentality that was forced upon each of us and its consequences. Also, the mediocre level of education of most of the old neighborhood is an aspect I do not want to leave out, nor the fact that this led to an incredible limitation in thinking and in forming a set of false believes. It was a fact, and I do not intend to disguise it in any way.
The process of getting to know who I was and being able to live according to my own rules was an extremely long process (it is still ongoing, and I believe it will never stop). However, with each year that goes by and with each false belief I let go of, I manage to accept and make peace with every situation that happened to me and affected me. I can now be grateful for them as they were crucial for me to understand how truly things are for me, and most importantly, to understand who I am.
This is me and this is my story. Dive in and let yourself be carried away.