Memory. One of the strongest muscles in our being. It can contract and ruin your life crushing you underneath or it can gently lift your soul in the light, no matter what life throws at you.
When I was a child my grandmother used to have in a corner of her garden a columbine that used to grow again and again every year. I remember how fascinated I used to be as a little girl by the filigree shape and the delicate yet robust structure of this flower. I could study it day after day when it bloomed or when it’s petals were falling. I used to be very caring with the flowers. And when I say flowers, I mean beings, living creatures that I respected deep in my child’s heart. It never ceased to amaze me and make me happy whenever I saw it, because only there, in that corner of the garden, hidden in shadow under a lilac tree one could have found my columbine. There were no others, it was unique and the neighbours had none. It’s incredible how simple things that adults don’t even notice can be such an awesome thing for a child.
Many years I grew up with the beautiful columbines, studying them as they opened their purple-blue flowers. Columbines meant holiday, freedom and childhood. Not in so many words, but with a warm cosy feeling deep within. Words meant nothing then, only the heart was full of feelings and of a light that an adult is losing somewhere on the way.
This year I was contemplating my bare garden, frozen and with no trace of life. Then suddenly an incredible invisible force, a singular touch of grace has awaken the life in the sleeping buds and wrinkled flowers that rose their heads and stretched their beings in the warm sunshine. Then mesmerised I have discovered hundreds of columbines.
Is it God’s message that life is beautiful and full of diversity on a multitude of layers at the same time? Or is it just a cosmic coincidence? No matter what it is, it has brought back to me that warm cosy feeling in the midst of a busy life full of stress. The morning when I saw the columbines bloom I felt how one must feel when they win the lottery. To others this means nothing. To me it means the return to innocence.
400 words, memyselfandela, June 1st 2015
Photo: Adela Galasiu, May 2015
She had not written for many days, weeks, months, it felt rather like eons. Struck by a fierce silence, she didn’t find the words any more. Painful silence, coming from deeper than the words can say. From deep within where thoughts do not have time or do not dare to descend in normal days that gallop worst than wild horses. Life seems to have stopped and unfolded in front of her eyes with a sort of cruelty that she did not know how to swallow. Cruelty or acute sarcasm. As if life itself would have smiled at her with half a face and smashed her badly with a slap coming from the opposite side.
Yes, life is sarcastic and unfair. Who told you that there are happy ending stories? There may be many fairy tales, but not many real happy endings. She did her best to make things happen but at some point she understood that she has no power over life itself, that life is a far bigger force than she can even understand with her mind and that all she can do is to accept with humiliation that in some ways she has lost the battles long before they have even begun.
Shredded often between her beautiful imagination and the cruel reality, she had learned that the most powerful thing one can do in this life is to survive. And the most crazy to dream. She has never dared to lay on paper all her thoughts, out of fear that if she would have done so, maybe the whole reality would have cracked over her. Yet in moments when nobody noticed her, she has dared to close her eyes and without a word to imagine a parallel world where everything was different than in this one.
There was in the end no lesson she could have cascaded on others. No great wisdom and no big prise. She had only learned that she knew nothing and as such, she stopped talking about life. She stopped complaining and equally she stopped rejoicing. She had reached a state of acceptance that was similar to the shell of a tortoise, trying to keep the very core of her far away, deeply hidden from any pain.
In an untold resilience her spirit has lost many other souls, even the ones she has loved the most. Their voice has faded just as sudden as it has made itself heard. Their presence has stopped shining a warmth of goodness and joy in her existence. Yet she was adamant she did not lose them completely and she will once again have the blessing of meeting them all. In her fantasy at least.
On the corner of a little table hidden in a tea room where nobody stopped today because of the horrible weather, she broke her silence, but allowed the secrets to remain in the deep hidden corners of her soul, brewing there, unknown to others, yet ready to emerge one day, truly full of magic.
500 words, memyselfandela, November 2014
Yesterday lovely Nicola Humphries, BBC producer and wonderful woman with a big heart, has given me the opportunity to tell a story.
It has all started with my beloved Rhapsody in Blue and Gershwin, but for me this represents the tip of my soul iceberg. I have dived very deep in my past to the times when I was a happy child. I have spoken about life in the Communism, oppression, the tragic death of my father which has coincided with the beginning of the Romanian Revolution on the 22 of December 1989. I have tried to describe life as it was, but time was short and words don’t come always easy. I have had moments when my mind has frozen and when I could not find my words as in the back of my eyes I have kept my tears, because I cannot get back in some moments in time without feeling again all that intense pain.
I am in love with music because it has always been for me a gate to freedom and a window of hope in the darkest moments. I have remembered the most intense moments that I have lived and witnessed, the blood on the streets of Sibiu, the fear when people were shot, the agony of not knowing what was happening with my father when he did not come back home, the death striking my family when we have least expected, the love and the absolute loss.
I may be different than other people given the intensity of situations that I have lived, things that could have made other people get insane. I have been through things that normally do not happen to other people. Those have been moments that have not destroyed me, but made me stronger. This is one of the reasons why I write and I have started my blog. I believe that despite all pain, beyond all loss, life is both a path and a fight. We can all create a better path and win our battle. I truly believe that none of us should give up, that we should all have peace of mind and hope in our heart for the day to come. I believe it because I have been myself on the edge of despair and I have looked into the abyss of depression many times in my life.
As I came out of the BBC I have entered the Church of All Souls. I believe nothing is accidental. I have been not given the chance to speak about me alone, but the chance to recall and mention my mother, my father, my love, my loss, my hope. Maybe it was a way of setting myself free and closing a deep pain of the past, a bleeding succession of losses that I have lived with for a long time.
500 words, memyselfandela, February 2014
Photos: Adela Galasiu, February 2014
Many thanks to wonderful Nicola Humphries and BBC 4, Soul Music.
Most people don’t know that I used to be, many years ago, a movie devourer. And when I say this I mean it. My love for movies has started when my late father started to take me to the cinema. In a communist country one could not see much on TV, but what was extraordinary in those times was that people were getting tickets to the “Cinemateca”, a cinematographic phenomenon that has impregnated my memories from early childhood. I remember going with my parents and seeing many art movies, western movies and movies one could have never got to see on TV.
Many years later I have rediscovered the cinematography dream as the communism has died and the Romanians were able to get free access to any movie one could dream of. Throughout the years I must have watched hundreds of movies of all genres. Then life took it’s toll and I didn’t have the time for this passion till recently when I got back to my roots.
One of the movies I have seen not a long time ago (but long after being released) is “The Book of Eli”. And what I made of it is a very personal statement and very subjective thing.
It is a post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind. “The Book of Eli” is not a commercial movie. It has griped my attention throughout the story and it has thrown at me some surprise moments that have made everything in the entire movie more surreal.
Eli, a lone wanderer, has been walking west across the devastated landscape of America for 30 years, on his way to the sea. 30 years is a lifetime. 30 years is a metaphor. 3 is a sacred number, a divine number and 30 is almost the age a man should have had in order to be considered an adult in the Old Testament. This speaks to me of the path of a man in a hard life, of the sacrifices one needs to make just to find his way.
How does Eli know he’s walking the right way? “Faith,” he says. This simple reply takes on added resonance later in the film. But also speaks volumes to those that think that life is more than just a physical existence. If life has a greater purpose and we all have a destiny, the difficult and dry part of it is to actually find that purpose and fight for it.
Eli is indeed a great fighter as he needs to be in order to survive after witnessing the catastrophe that has wiped out most of the Earth’s population and left behind ruin, desolation, victimized humans and roaming motorcycle gangs of hijackers and thieves. The Hughes brothers, Albert and Allen, film this story in sunburned browns and pale blues, creating a dry and dusty world under a merciless sky. Water is treasure. There’s no exuberance in this world, only survival. There’s no great joy in Eli’s life, maybe only the solemn joy of reading his book and hearing music long forgotten by most others. This wasteland Eli treks at an implacable pace. Set upon in an ambush, he kills all his attackers. He’s got one of those swords that makes a unique noise all by itself, so you can consider him a one-man army.
Washington and the Hughes brothers do a good job of establishing this man and his world, and at first, “The Book of Eli” seems destined to be solemn. But then Eli arrives at a Western town ruled by Carnegie , who, like all the local bosses in Westerns and gangster movies, sits behind a big desk flanked by a tall bald guy and, of course, a short scruffy one. In this town, desperate and starving people live in rusty cars and in the streets. We meet Carnegie’s abused wife Claudia and her daughter Solara, a prostitute in Carnegie’s bar. He controls everybody by fear and manipulation.
Carnegie needs Eli because he has maybe the last remaining copy of a book believed to allow the expansion and rule over many more towns. “RELIGION IS POWER” Carnegie says, and this phrase makes it even more clear that we talk about the last Bible on the face of Earth and about the thirst of domination rising in the human mind.
The third act seems to be taken out of many Westerns in which the hero and the girl hole up and are surrounded. That allows countless beams of sunlight to shine in the dusty atmosphere and work as a metaphor. It can be the hope in the darkness of soul and mind. It can be breaking the rules and going beyond Eli’s limits to make a dream and life mission come true. The image of Eli walking numb by the side of the street after being shot reminds of the incredible resistance of the human spirit in the worst conditions.
Populated by a vivid imagery , the movie has a magnificent ending , unpredictable and almost implausible, breaking apart from the movie and having a life of its own. The human mind and soul can be the carrier of a dream. The dream of transmitting a message to another generation, the dream of a better world born out of ashes. If there’s a message at the end of this movie that can only be that hope never dies and one should never give up his dream.
930 words, memyselfandela, January 2014
In a far away land lost in depths of time
Owning handwritten books was a golden mine.
In a far away castle on a God forgotten shore
Ruled a very cruel master who wanted ever more.
So he forced all his scribes to work hard day and night
Never caring if poor people might have even died
Asking them to decipher and to write from pain
With the ink and the feather and the blood in their vein.
Any minor mistake was so dreadfully punished
That in short term of time most his scribes simply vanished,
And when having all books he still asked for a last
Threatening all with cruel tortures from past.
As his time to die suddenly next day came
He just then understood that it was all in vein
With his last breath holding his most precious book
An incredible guest by surprise him just took
For no matter how strong he has been, he saw that
The last word was not his, but belonged to the cat.
I live waiting on the platform for my destined train. Sometimes I overslept in the waiting room and missed it, but most of the times I was here on the platform when it arrived. I have travelled for a while, I have learned new things but when I got off the train I have realized it has brought me back to this station with a name that I am still trying to decipher.
It’s just a normal train station like all others. With a huge clock, with huge windows, with many people carrying around small and big luggages and baggages stuffed with their own existence. Many run after trains they almost miss, others wait a bit restless for their journey, but the most rare kind of passengers are the ones that radiate happiness when they see their train arriving. Not many smile as they step in their train.
Above my head, on a wall, is scribbled Paler’s Decalogue, for some a blasphemy, for some food for thought:
“1.Wait, no matter how long.
2. Wait, no matter for what.
3. Don’t remember quite anything instead. The only good memories are the ones that allow you to live in the present.
4. Do not count the days.
5. Do not forget that any waiting time is temporary, even if it lasts for a lifetime.
6. Repeat yourself that there is no such thing as a desert. There is only our incapacity to fill the void in which we are living.
7. Do not put in the same pot both the prayer and God. Prayer is sometimes a form of hope of the one that does not dare to hope on his own.
8. If this thought helps, do not seek to admit that you hope because you don’t have something better to do or even in order to prevent the outcomes of doing nothing.
9. Bless the opportunity of completely belonging to yourself. Solitude is a whore that doesn’t blame you for being selfish.
10. Remember that Paradise was , most certainly, in a grotto.”
No days or nights are the same. They are all different and this is a blessing in itself.
Sometimes moths circle around the glowing beauty of a single light in the night, in a dance that fascinates me so much that I forget how much I still have to wait to see my train coming. Their mesmerizing dance takes me out of my world for a while.
Sometimes the dirty light reveals the faces of all the unknown people still waiting by my side, some worried, some cheerful, same frowning, some left with only few more drops of life.
Life goes on on the platform. The days grow, the nights slowly fade, the time sometimes pauses. The most beautiful light of all is the sunrise invading like molten gold the quiet platform, flowing between trains and passengers, flooding the huge waiting room in which some just enter and some still wait for an eternity to finally get born.
Blue jeans, white shirt… When he walked into the room with his loud friends her eyes turned his way. Sitting at the table next to them she could not help but hear the loud conversation they had about beer and kung-fu movies. She smiled. His eyes met her somewhere in the middle of the distance and stopped when seeing the strange passion in her eyes. That was where it all started.
Her cigarette continued to burn, just like her eyes used to burn once at the sight of him as he walked into the room that night. Smoke danced around in a quiet rhythm but as music joined the dance filling up the air the thick smoke lifted like a white ghost levitating above them in the night.
“You never close your eyes any more when I kiss your lips.
And there’s no tenderness like before in your fingertips.
You’re trying hard not to show it baby
But baby, baby I know it…
You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling,
Whoa, that lovin’ feeling,
You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling,
Now it’s gone…gone…gone…”
He was distant yet she didn’t care any more, she had nothing left to lose. She boldly stepped towards him and quietly took his hand for a dance. Why they’ve never danced before she could not tell, maybe because he thought she wasn’t good enough for him. She didn’t know how, but even so she danced. She missed too much that spark she saw once in his eyes. It was gone, she felt it, yet she could not let go, not that night, not that moment. She danced entranced, her arms holding him, an avalanche of feelings invading her heart while looking at him. Her lips could not speak , his heart had long left her, he was gone, gone, gone…
300 words, memyselfandela, December 2013