I’ve been judged by Pigs

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True story!

The first years of terror under Communist rule in Romania: a great barrister and Professor of Law is arrested for being ‘an enemy of the people’. The judge is one of the Professor’s ex-students, quickly risen in the ranks.

In Court, the judge asks: What have you got to declare?

The Professor: I should have failed you when I had the opportunity!

The judge: Please show respect for this Court! What will your defence be?

The Professor: I will tell a fable!

Whispers in Court.

Once there was a very beautiful Peahen started the Professor. And as she walked around she met Crow. Crow said: ‘I am the most beautiful bird that exists because I have shiny and perfectly black feathers and such a nice beak!’

Peahen said: ‘No! I am the most beautiful bird that exists!’

Let’s go and find someone who can be our judge and whomever is more beautiful shall poke one eye of the less beautiful!’ said Crow.

Off they went and they met Pig, who was snorting.

‘Who’s the most beautiful of the two of us, Pig?’

‘Of course YOU are the most beautiful dear Crow! Look at your feathers and at your beak!’ said Pig.

Crow poked Peahen’s eye.

Peahen was left so sad and as she walked away she met Squirrel, who asked: ’Peahen, why are you so sad? Is it because Crow poked one of your eyes?’

‘No’, replied Peahen! ‘I’m sad because I’ve been judged by Pigs’

CIORASCU

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Ciorascu and I-can’t-remember-her-first-name was my colleague in the first year of school. She was Gypsy.

Quite tall for her age, a bit overweight, with curly dark hair and strikingly round, dark-brown pupils.

Our teacher – a man – regularly took us outside to do physical warm-up.

In the derelict courtyard turned a sports arena, at the back of our School of Music, we were braving the potholes, running from one end to the other, guided by hand signals.

Ciorascu had a particular ‘laziness’ in her eyes, I thought: she always looked bored, detached, indifferent somehow.

Teacher’s arm goes up: he gives the signal. ‘Go, Ciorascu, go!’ On the sides, the kids start to shout their bullying.

She very difficultly reaches the other end of the courtyard to meet an angered teacher.

‘You idiot! Whatever is wrong with you? Are you not able to move or what? Come on! Move yourself!’ Then the teacher bangs a fist into her upper arm.

Under the uniform’s blue dress, I can see her plump flesh trembling, the fist sinking in the upper arm’s fatness.

The look didn’t change at all in Ciorascu’s eyes: she remained as impassive as before, with her dark, dark-brown and incredibly round pupils.

For that first year, she was handed a fail.

But her eyes have kept on looking at all of us in that class. It’s like she was telling us: my time is not your time and your time will never be my time. Whatever you do to me and however you choose to bully me, the look in my eyes will never change.

It’s like the look in her eyes (which was involuntary, I’m sure) stood as a testimony that there are some things we will never be able to overcome, will never be able to change, will never be able to destroy in others.

How comforting that look in your eyes still is, Ciorascu!

Father Rockefeller by Traian Cosovei (trans Mihai Florea)

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The roses are so beautiful today

and what a beautiful swing in shares

Rubber-feet Father hopes to set foot on another planet

 

and above all, he’s buying.
Air-bodied women passing
carried by the hot currents of the motorway –
Father with rubber organs whistles at them
and above all he’s buying, he’s buying –
whilst the elastic kangaroos of melancholy bounce on his back
Father with rubber arteries would be willing
to let himself be cryogenically frozen for a few centuries,
if only the rubber angels wouldn’t watch him in
the rear view mirror.

FLORICICĂ

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Floricică was my friend in nursery and in the first year of school. He failed that first year and so we lost contact forever.

Floricică was a lisping and blabbing Gypsy that my Grandma looked upon suspiciously: ‘Out of all the children in your class, you had to pick THIS one to play with!’

Floricică fascinated me because he used to say swear words and tell naughty jokes… of which I could not make much sense anyway, given his impeded speech.

I can’t remember his first name or his face. But we shared the root of our surnames. Floricică means ‘little/tiny flower’ – a very ‘Gypsy’ surname, people used to say.

I vaguely recall some of Floricică’s speech rhythms and his spitting-a-little when lisping.

One piece of memory has stayed vivid though.

Sat around a dwarf table, in nursery, drawing: myself, Floricică and two other kids. Besides, a huge terracotta stove. In-between the stove and the wall a narrow space full of dust and spider webs. And in there a hat.

The teacher asked sharply: ‘Whose is that?’. No answer.

A few days later, sat around the same dwarf table and the teacher asked again: ‘Whose hat is that?’. Floricică put his hand up: ‘It’s mine, Miss!’. ‘What are you waiting for then? Take it!’ replied sharply the teacher.

Floricică received the hat, and whispered to me afterwards: ‘It IS mine! My mum washed it really, really well (he mimicked the movement of Mum’s hands washing), with lots of soap, rinsed it really well and one day, I lost it in there!’

I wonder where you are now, my dear Floricică?

Fruit (Flesh won’t forget) by Cezar Ivanescu (trans Mihai Florea)

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! Oh, no, flesh won’t forget its peculiar pattern:

humid eternal vertices push towards me,

as a bird over an army, I see their toss and turn and I startle.

 

Oh, no, flesh won’t forget its peculiar pattern!

 

! No wisdom king is touching it

only brutal hands, like cleavers. I

live at the edge of my kind

and in pain, I look at the

shameful parts of my body;

and like a candle-maker

my imploration I address to

the flickers of my yellowish head:

come, recall, a little at least,

how the pattern used to look

of that light vessel

we smilingly carried our fruit in.

LIANA

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I dreamt Liana, my desk colleague in primary school. We used to have two-seater desks back then. She had the same dark brown hair tied in two neat pigtails. She was six years old and she was talking like an adult.

 

I met Liana by her grandma’s flat, on the town’s main road. There was some sort of flood going on, just like when a water pipe bursts. Her grandma lived on the second floor and used to be a good friend of my grandma’s.

 

‘Have you moved into the apartment now? In all the three bedrooms?’ I asked. ‘Yes’, she said, ‘but I’ve sold the bedroom at the back; it’s no longer ours.’ ‘How can you sell just one bedroom?’ I thought to myself.

 

The waters were flowing between us, under our feet, producing minuscule waves, but the water felt warm and pleasant. I looked up towards the kitchen window, where her grandma used to pop up (she carried quite a few moles on her face). ‘Is she still alive?’ I wondered. ‘She must be really old by now. It would be quite unusual. My grandma died a while ago, and people don’t tend to live that long around these parts.’

Morning walk by Traian Cosovei (trans by Mihai Florea)

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From the top of the staircase

I saw the dog descending the one thousand and one steps

the old dog taken out for a walk on the leash

the old dog taken out for a walk on his knees in the splendour

of the winter morning

 

he had my eyes, my former eyes, my dark circles

my name written on the dirty collar

with a margin of tenderness, with a hint of ferocity

sliding his shadow along the copper edge of the staircase

 

and in his eyes I have seen the lights of Ellis island

and the silk’s herds spinning the huge wheel of night

in his fading eyes I have seen the Apocalypse spark

and my unpaid debts and my unliveable life

(and God, he had my years and my tears)

the old dog taken out for a walk in the splendour of the last

winter morning

 

pushed up one thousand and one steps, one by one

up to the top and further still

up to the point of

no return.

Peahen and Crow: Fable

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Once upon a time in a forest, Peahen meets Crow.

Peahen says: ‘I’m the most beautiful in this forest!’

‘No! I’m the most beautiful in this forest! Shall we go and ask around who’s the most beautiful, me or you?’ says Crow. ‘And whoever is less beautiful, let them have one of their eyes poked by the other one!

Off they went and met with Boar.

‘Boar, who’s most beautiful of the two?’ asked Crow.

‘Oh, you Crow of course! Just look at your feathers and your beak! You’re certainly the most beautiful!’

Crow poked Peahen’s eye and Peahen left all upset.

On the way, she meets Squirrel. ‘What are you so sad, Peahen?’ asked Squirrel. ‘Is it because Crow has poked your eye?’

‘No’, answered Peahen, it’s because I’ve been judged by pigs.

 

 

Traveller

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I feel best when I travel…

Although I don’t like travelling as such.

I don’t like luggage…

I was blessed with the chance to leave my home country.

Although I never wanted to… Never!

I have moved to a country that, from afar, I didn’t like.

Now living in it, I very often plan to move.

 

I’ve always wanted to act.

Life has moved me from one place to another.

But I still managed to act.

The price I had to pay was big though.

I had to go back to school.

That being not my biggest dream…

I am grateful though for it.

 

When I visit another country, I immediately want to remain there…

To start anew there…

I can see so many things to do, so many chances in that new country…

Then I get frightened that I might have missed chances.

Immediately though, I feel incredibly relieved.

I realise that

I don’t really care about chances at all.

I’m a traveller in fact.

Although I don’t like travelling as such.