I don’t know how would it be possible to live in a country ignoring what is happening there. You do take things into your heart. Sooner or later this country becomes your homeland, too.
You will be worrying about how ordinary people are making their ends meet, what kind of education do children receive in schools where retired teachers earn extremely low wages and whether the young girls who are dreaming of rich Western boyfriends will be trafficked to slavery or not.
I found extremely lovely and dear people in Moldova and, at times, hostile and harsh system. It is indeed quite difficult to fall in love with Moldova right away – you will experience indifference and impoliteness on the streets and there are no breathtaking mountains or beautiful beaches to counterbalance the sad feeling.
But nevertheless I’m convinced that Moldova is worth of a friendly pat on the back: It’s time to rise!
Maybe half an hour later, when we’re walking down the hospital hallways again, we see the birth of a child through an open door. Yes, at that moment a little child is born. The woman is exhausted from being on her back; she’s on the table, head towards the door, hands limp at her sides.
Someone is saying: “Smile! Smile!” The woman raises her hands to hold the child who’s been put on her belly. Her husband is standing farther off by the window. In the light that’s coming in through the window, his form is somehow small and frail.
I think about this woman all evening and even though I no longer remember her face, the fact still remains that I saw the most intimate moment of her life. I’m shocked by the lack of privacy at the hospital – this is the most basic thing that a poor country could provide a patient for free, so later I ask my Russian-language teacher, how to say “privacy” in Russian.
Yelena is taken aback and tells me that they don’t have a word for that. “What is she talking about?” she wonders. I grab an English-Russian dictionary from the shelf and find the word: ujedinenje.
“Oh, that? That’s a word from the tsarist times that hasn’t been used for a long time already.”
Alina, an investigative journalist in Moldova, once told me a story about an American soldier serving in Bosnia, who had started to like a Moldavian “working girl” at a brothel.
To spare himself the trouble of walking to and from the brothel, the man bought the girl, releasing her from slavery, got her passport back from the human traffickers, and moved her into his house. The door was locked and she ended up working only for that American man.
When it was time for the soldier to move back home, he thought about what to do with this woman who cleaned, cooked, baked, and who knows, maybe even loved him. The man did what is normally done with goods – sold the woman back into slavery and got his money back.
The house of a UN agency’s director is so pointlessly big and exclusive in the middle of all the gray huts that we can’t hold back the laughter when looking at it. There’s a stairway made of real marble that goes up from the first floor. Mirelle, the woman of the house, tells her servants to clean it. Later she complains to me about how one of them was scrubbing a stain on the stair and when it wouldn’t come out, she used more and more abrasive brushes.
“She didn’t realize it was a small seashell embedded in the marble,” she shook her head. “The stairs are ruined now!”
Those poor country bastards, they don’t know a thing about marble! is what her scornful expression said.
Bernard and Mirelle’s huge house has four bedrooms on the second floor, beautifully decorated and full of light but sterile and empty, like a hotel.
“Which rooms do you actually live in?” I ask confused.
- ISBN 978-9985-9931-0-1