Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Proud About My Origins, Part II


Because of my skin color along my first 9 years of life I have experienced many humiliations from the teachers, beatings from other school kids, offensive language every time we passed somebody angry for seeing us.


A horrible situation was when a couple of times a month the local grocery store was receiving a food delivery: only one type such as chicken meat or milk or eggs …or bread... Queues were formed 5-8 hours before the actually delivery was taken place and people were starting to wait from 4-5 am. My mother was one of them and when she was getting exhausted, she was asking either me or my sister to take her place. As soon as I arrived, ready to sit on the little chair that my mother prepared for me, people were maddened to see me, screaming : ”Go back to Africa, why have you come here to eat our food?!”.

Standard 80s queue

The worst picture in my mind remains the brutal beating that my mother took from the neighbor couple living next to our door (apartments were divided by the elevator). They did it as a punishment for having black children. Ever since, my mother’s life has changed completely: she started to have panic attacks, depressions, eating disorders and still can’t walk longer than 200m. As she reported the attack to the authorities, the result was a big house party of the beaters with the investigating police men. The case was moved to court but my mother had to drop it due to medical reasons.

My mother (pregnant with me and my sister), 1980
My mother, 1980

Sometimes I was told: “Girls, you have no guilt that your mother was a slut!” opinion that I couldn’t really understand at the age of 5-6.
Most of my mother’s girlfriends were inviting her to a chat & coffee mentioning: ”But please, don’t take the girls because the neighbors will see them!”
Reason for her to become almost friendless but happy to confer her time, care and love on us.
Every time we came home crying from school, the next morning she was in the inspector’s office to give a written complaint. She was a fighter and this is what I took from her, the spirit of justice.

Despite all the haters that we had the bad luck to meet, I nicely remember:

all the summer camps that we went in (always twice per summer in the mountains) where we were meeting wonderful kids and caretakers…

Busteni, one of our beloved destinations

the places where my mother had job delegations and always took us with her, mostly in the country side with wonderful, simple peasants that never saw our skin color and spoiled us with fresh fruits and vegs ( I very well remember Ilisesti, Suceava)…

Suceava, early 1900

neighbor-girlfriends that played with us every day; every package that we received from my mother’s friend from Greece (Bella) filled with gorgeous clothes and sweets; my godmother that was a true spiritual parent and never the less my cousin Kim that is our little Angel.

Kim, my cousin

After the 1989’s Revolution this situation has change to almost the opposite and all the new horizons have become the biggest attraction. The Revolution brought this change into my life as well but besides this, as a child I didn’t feel many other differences between before and after: I had the same family, friends and dreams.

Timisoara, where the Revolution started
Ion Iliescu and Petre Roman, shortly after the Revolution

Photo credits: spiritultimpului.blogspot.com, mielu007.wordpress.com, pozebusteni.files.wordpress.com

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