I was very sick that time before Christmas of 1989.
I had a high fever and a runny nose and two small children to tend to and several dogs and cats and… I had to cook, clean, shop…
I had no right to complain, it was all of my own doing, except for the cold. The cold, I wasn’t responsible for, it just came out of the blue, perhaps caused by a weakened immune system, by the many nights of getting up to nurse and change diapers. No matter what, I was grateful for my self-contained Paradise of my babies playing and my babies screaming and my babies asleep. I was grateful for having the luxury of changing my own children’s diapers and nursing instead of leaving them in a day-care center at the hands of strangers. I was grateful for being allowed to have the pets I never had as a child and I was grateful for cable television which allowed me to sit in bed and watch what was happening in Romania!
My nose was running, I had a fever. I was sitting in bed nursing Natalie and watching CNN while Eva was playing with the dogs. A rather calm picture, except for what was happening in Romania!
I saw Ceausescu on international television speaking in front of the Romanian Executive Council House, just a block from where I grew up… the same building I walked by for years, my entire childhood, on my way to school, but never could cross the street on the side of the building for security reasons. I was only allowed to look from afar!
And then, in 1989, on television, the cameras captured him, President Ceausescu, fear in his eyes, forced to stop his senseless speech. He turned around and run inside the building, as a noise, like a tsunami, was raising from the crowds! There were thousands of people in the square and more were joining. There was total panic, people were chanting anti Ceausescu slogans. After years of being forced to chant: “Ceausescu and the People, Ceausescu the most beloved son and Elena, his wife, the Mother of Romania,” the people were chanting their feelings at last!
Of course he wasn’t the son of Romania, of course he wasn’t loved. He was feared, he was shrewd, he, an uneducated shoe-maker apprentice, had the street-smarts to cow a people of over twenty million since 1960’s when I was a teenager. A life-time of lies and pretence. His wife, Elena, a pseudo-scientist, who barely knew to read and write, bought the title of PhD and many other titles, but under my very own eyes, on CNN “The beloved son of Romania and the Mother of the country” were fleeing in a helicopter that the CNN cameras captured leaving the roof of the building!
I wiped off my nose and quickly rushed downstairs to fetch a snack during a commercial, then came back to continue watching the Revolution on CNN!
That year, the German Wall was demolished at last, the Soviet Union fell apart, and now Romania! Was this a dream? Were they making it up? Was it a movie? Did I have a fever?
I spoke with several people and was assured it was “for real,” indeed, Ceausescu and his wife were on the run.
CNN broadcasted scenes from the Ceausescu’s hidden treasures, their many palaces, the solid golden utensils they used, the thousands of suites Ceausescu only warn once. He, a germophobic, only warn a suite once, and traveled with his own cook and entourage everywhere, inside the country and abroad, checking the food and the rooms to make sure no one was plotting to poison or somehow kill him. Meanwhile, food in Romania was rationalised, and people stood in long lines to buy milk, bread and eggs.
He was reduced to an ordinary fugitive, at last. No servants, no shields against germs or the people whose torrent of hate was going to kill them both.
Day and night I watched the Revolution on CNN. I watched without believing. I watched and pinched myself when before Christmas, the two fugitives were captured. I saw them bending, I saw the fear and disbelieve in their eyes. I saw human feelings expressed by the two monsters who lead Romania into poverty and its culture into demise. I saw fear in the eyes of those who ignored HIV and declared it an invention of capitalism. I saw fear of their own death in the eyes of those who forced thousands of women to birth children they couldn’t care for, children who were then placed in orphanages with the goal of ultimately making an army of youth blindly dedicated and serving Ceausescu. A dream which fortunately never came true!
Now they were the captive, they were experiencing some of the feelings they elicited in millions: fear, hopelessness… not shame. Even in those last moments, Ceausescu screamed: “I am the President of the Socialist Republic of Romania!”
But his cries were useless, the military panel convicted them to death by shooting…
They were executed on Christmas Day, 1989. On CNN, I saw their bodies in the dust. Their bodies were dead, but was their spirit of Evil, which destroyed Romania, its people and culture for so many years? Was their spirit which chased me and millions out of Romania, dead to?
Time was going to tell… was Romania a free country? Did the unforeseeable happened?
I taped the Ceausescu’ s execution and watched it over and over again, as I was holding my children tight, safe, in a country which I knew for sure was free, far away from Ceausescus and the Revolution on CNN.
Was it real?