Little Life Stories

12. The Mother and Son, Warm House and Ice Cream. Enchanted Talks. 

Arriving and delaying to leave. That’s what happened at the house where the mother and the son live. A few piglets and a cute sow, roosting chickens, a dog, maybe a wandering cat, a bread oven in the backyard built by the handy son during the pandemic … in short, a feeling of well-being and closeness to God, that’s what I felt. I could hardly convince myself to leave. 

This house has everything. The son knows how to do it all himself. The mother is very proud of him. At 9, he could already drive a tractor. 

God doesn’t like it when you lift yourself up. You have to be modest. 

So, we’ve got sparkling water, Fanta, Coke, Schweppes, 2-in-1 coffee. Sprite?

Whatever it is, just make it fizzy. 

God help us! 

This fizzy drink is so good, it makes your mouth pout. 

In Uzdin when you say or ask for honey, it means sugar. Just for the record. 

The mosquitoes in Uzdin are very reliable. They bite you once, but it itches days afterwards. Don’t forget the Uzdin mosquito. 

I don’t really understand this world. People should reason first. Man must have common sense. But people come in all kinds. 

My mother made a mistake choosing her profession, she should have become an actress. 

When I started dreaming of getting married, like any other girl, I thought there was no reason why I would have a hard time with my mother-in-law, that’s what I kept saying, that I wouldn’t have a hard time with my mother-in-law. Firstly, she is the mother of my husband, so why should I hate her, why would I have anything against her. But sometimes the mother-in-law forgets that the son is now a husband who has a wife, and she takes care of him. The mother-in-law shouldn’t compete with the wife. 

I had a great love in my youth, the only one. 

My mother was and is a simple and tasteful woman. 

When my mother-in-law wouldn’t give me a break, I divorced him. If I washed one of my husband’s shoes, she would wash the other. It was too much pressure, I couldn’t handle it. 

We didn’t need words, we just looked at each other and knew, we understood each other. 

Empty, meaningless life. 

I have no discussion topics, no one to talk to. 

Where are you going? What are doing? Where are you going? What have you got there? 

Curiosity in the village, it’s a big disease.

In Uzdin, a woman had to know her place in the house, to look after for children, to cook, not to start painting. Yes, there was Adam Doclean, the drawing teacher, he looked for talent in the village, but it’s a long way to naive art. All of us in the village could take up drawing, but it took more than that, it took vision, inspiration, cultivation. If we stick to drawing on a canvas our rich costumes, a few customs, it’s not enough, art is more than that, I think. This naivety in painting has been misunderstood. If you make a green horse, it doesn’t mean it’s art. 

Yes, painting was a form of women’s emancipation in the village, but it was also the source of many problems and quarrels. 

There were people in the village who just took. They didn’t give anything back to the village, they took advantage of the opportunity. 

Mr Adam Doclean, the teacher, taught drawing at the school, and he gave all the children a canvas, brushes and colours to draw. And whoever was good at drawing continued, and there were many talented. There was a theme, obviously. The traditional costume in Uzdin, obviously. Now, people drew the way they knew, but they didn’t necessarily know how to do it from a naive perspective. 

Men were jealous of their women, especially if they were beautiful and travelled around with their paintings. There were a lot of family fights because of that. Their goal was to copy their costumes, which were very beautiful and richly decorates, in painting and to receive compliments for their wonderful dress, especially in foreign countries. They didn’t deal with feelings or dramas or troubles in their paintings. All the faces were round, with red cheeks, only Steluța Giura painted like the first people. 

All of us could paint, we did it at home, for ourselves, but women also wanted to be known and appreciated and to not be slaves to their husbands. After becoming widows, many women managed to pull themselves together and were as if reborn. 

Many women came out of the shadows only after the husband was in the ground. Wives have been through a lot here. And none of them would have been writers or painters unless they were smart and talented. 

The village is so small and yet it is divided in two. 

There are welcoming people and there are people who only strive for themselves. Just like everywhere else. 

The man with sense is not allowed to lie. 

What are we? Romanians? Whose are we? Is Romania our motherland?

I don’t know. I don’t think so. 

I’m a Romanian from the former Yugoslavia. 

I am Romanian from Serbia. Romanian from Vojvodina. 

Romania is not my country. And many are false patriots. When we need some kind of help from Romania, that’s when we are the biggest patriots. 

Did you record me saying all that? Stop it so we can talk. 

We’re a handful, why split up like this. And young people now, they have no more tolerance. 

Listen, we’re Romanians. If a Romanian doesn’t stick a knife in his neighbour’s back, or in someone else’s, then he’s not Romanian. But the Slovaks, the Hungarians, they stick together, they are one for all and all for one. That’s how it is. Us, we are not united. 

We’re brothers, that’s true. Either way. 

It’s a shame about the women who have been under a man’s heel. They’ve had no justice. 

I intentionally don’t use quotation marks or quote anyone in any paragraph. These are opinions from a place you may never visit, maybe you don’t have to. The village has secrets. And I’m not here to unravel them or tidy up. 

Sometimes you need a starting point, opinions, so that you, the man or woman reading me, can begin your own adventure.

Photo credit: Diana Bilec

English translation: Cristina Chira