Friday, August 8, 2008

December (part I, the events of December 21st 1989 as I remember them)

My month is December , my town is Bucharest. No, I did not go out on the streets that day –my mother did not really have to lock me in my room for I was only 14 and all it took her to keep me in the house was to order me not go outside.
I do not remember much about that day, I am not even sure if it snowed the night before or not, but I think there was no snow. I also think that it was a sunny day, though it might have been cloudy as well for I did not get a chance to go out as I was planning. I was ready to step out when my mother came home from work, hysterical, telling us that the rebellion had started in Bucharest too. The next thing she did was to ban me from going out of the house and beg my grandmother and my Nana to stay in.

We all knew about Timisoara, about the communist leaders falling one after another but nobody in my family, believed that our crazy dictator would have the same fate, all but I. Actually I was the only one with an opinion on political change, a very naïve opinion given my age and lack of political education. I was careful to keep my beliefs for me; I was old enough to know that it was not wise to share such ideas about freedom without running the risk of getting everybody in trouble. I was listening Radio Free Europe and Radio Free America for about two years and read a few classics with liberal political opinions.

But on the 21st the revolt reached Bucharest, the capital. Short after my mother came in we started to hear the uproar on the streets. Now our apartment was in the back of an old building , one would have to pass through two courtyards to get to it and all we could see was only the other side of the apartment complex. But we were also living less than half a mile from both University Square and Romana Square so we could hear very well the people shouting. At a point their shouts became so clear, so loud that we could understand what they were saying.

My Nana decided that since she was the oldest and since she survived two wars she will go to the nearest grocery store to buy as much food as she could for we might have to stay in for a while. She would not listen to my mother, she got dressed and she left. When she got back we all met her in the foyer and while she took her coat off she started telling us that she saw the Business Academy students and their teachers walking towards University square were they were expecting to rally with the students from Bucharest University and the ones from the School of Architecture. They did not get that far, my Nana barely finished talking when I heard real gunshots for the first time in my life. I do not recall how long they lasted but I can recall that sound like only few minutes had passed since that day. And I remember my Nana kneeling down and praying and in her prayer she was repeating, “Oh God, they were so young, so young”.
All other memories from that day and the days that followed are blurred by the pass of time, all but young students shouting, Nana’s prayer and the sounds of gunshots echoing over our building.

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