Little Life Stories

19. Sugar, Freedom and Pac-Pac

Apparently it’s an evening like any other. Summer, a hot August, nothing I’m not used to. I performed in a play in Timișoara, in St. Gheorghe Square, after many years of absence from this public space, with the joy of a new normality. It’s not my place to discuss the performance here, I only want to tell you that there is a moment when the audience sings along with me. The song is called The Mountain of Sugar. The previous day, on the façade of the Opera House in Timisoara, a tribute was paid to painter Prymachenko Maria, to the Ukrainian people, to their national day, to their struggle for freedom and integrity. Today, as I urged the audience to sing along with me about a mountain of sugar, free of tears and sighs, pain and revolt, I thought how naive and innocent I have been all these years about this seemingly simple act of singing along with the audience about a utopia, in the context of a war that is so close to us now. 

During the pandemic I couldn’t share that moment with the audience, I couldn’t sing along with them, I couldn’t walk among them, I couldn’t give them a sheet of paper with the lyrics of the song. Now we are back to normal, I can perform, but I feel troubled by the way I relate to freedom. Why should I laugh or dance when another can’t even dream of a former normality! 

I hid away in an apartment to write. Before I entered the building, a police car violently cut off a young man speeding on a scooter. The boy was only 14, he was being chased, he had stolen the moped from Traian. He was badly beaten, threatened, handcuffed, and put in the car. After a few moments, the victims arrived. They were two young people, they wanted to go for a drink on the scooter, but something was broken, the key wouldn’t make contact. This is where I am now, somewhere between a mountain of sugar and a kid who committed a burglary and was badly beaten by a policeman. I also learned a new swear phrase, ‘I’d like to stick a wire up your nose, you have juvie written all over, you can say goodbye to life.’ 

Let’s go back to Uzdin, where time stands still, so I can tell you about Trifu Șoșdean. The man with the cherry jam. 

Photo credit: Mircea Sorin Albuțiu

English translation: Cristina Chira