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when we watched the Revolution live on TV
in my apartment on the Victory Avenue.
I was a young blonde girl
and you were clutching your militsiya hat between your legs.
When they shot Ceauşescu
his petrified look was mirrored on your face
because just like him
you never thought the tyrant could ever die.

the first time we met
in an orphanage in our beloved city of Stalin.
I had a different face every day
and you used to steal food from the communal kitchen.
The caretakers used to beat you harshly
and at night tucked away in a grimy corner
I used to paint swirls and stars on my skin
to make you smile.

Through your veins ran the blood
of ancient warriors and heavenly shepherds,
through mine ran the void
of being born a tabula rasa.
no father; no mother; no name; no history
What brought us together
was the fateful day of the 1st of October 1966
when the State Council of the Socialist Republic of Romania decreed:
Interruption of pregnancy is forbidden.

when we left the orphanage
at eighteen years old.
Your birthday was on the 27th of June
so I decided it would be mine, too.
You left for the army
because you wanted to be a policeman one day
and someone who forfeits his military service
is no friend of the state.

when we met again years later
on the streets of Bucharest.
I was a young man in Turkish blue jeans
and you were donning the blue uniform of the militsiya.
You scolded me because two months before
a robbery at the National Bank made the headlines in Scînteia
and you knew it was me
wearing the face of a clerk.

I confessed my guilt
staring at my wooden-soled shoes
but the question crashed into the roof of my mouth
like the sounds do when you try to call out my name.
The question was
if the state was the people
and the wealth equally belonged to all of us
how come that none of it
ever graced our hands?

when you were waiting in line for meat
on Rosetti St.
You had been there since 6 o’clock sharp
and I was a middle aged shopkeeper.
I told you: “You won’t find a scrap of meat left
because what hasn’t already been rationed
was stolen by the shop ladies
or by me.”

when we had a feast that day at my place
but we ate in the dark because they cut the electricity again.
You said you found your place in the world.
I was a stranger everywhere I went.
I smiled for your success
while my solitude consumed me like a cancer.
I was a million different people
and none of them were me.

I haven’t seen your face in years
and I’ve been living my life unknown by others.
I want to tell you how the Revolution
changed everything while everything still stayed the same.
I wait for our next meeting
like you used to wait for a mythical mother
to take you home
or for the taste of freedom
to flood your famished mouth.

Mina Florea lives in Constanta, Romania. She is fond of all things Eastern European and has a dubiously healthy obsession with etymologies. You can best contact her by throwing pebbles at her windows in the dead of night.
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9 Sep 2019

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