The Domesticated Nation


  1. Foreign Languages
  2. Radio Swann
  3. Comrade
  4. Protocol Pioneers
  5. About bugs and fears
  6. Most beloved man in the world
  7. Slightly Abroad
  8. The Houses
  9. Bucharest
  10. Cubic Stone Law
  11. Christ has Risen!
  12. Reader of missing pages
  13. The Jail
  14. Moldavian Holidays 1
  15. Postcards from the Beach 1
  16. Moldavian Holidays 2
  17. Postcards from the Beach 2
  18. Moldavian Holidays 3



Many of our friends have children: kids raised in Romania but mainly abroad. We spent days with them, they spent days with us. Most of them live the present intensively much like we did at their age. In this respect the math homework for tomorrow is much more important than what their grandmother was doing in autumn 1973, and it is only right to be like that. But the difference between their lives and ours is so extended that sometimes it feels painful, not that they are free to talk and to think whatever they want, but that they live in a world where it’s so natural to do so that history fades to the point of disappearance.

One of these children asked his mother when he was around 14 how was life in communism. He is a special boy who some years ago asked me painfully why does Obi van need to die. His parents are at work all day long, his grandparents, those who still live, are far in Romania. I thought this particular boy deserves an answer and I wrote this text.

I tried to not go into the memorials ‘classical route (though it is hard since I am not a naïve writer, I am reading journals ever since in high school I bumped by chance over Cardinal de Retz’s ones). I tried to go back in my own self and connect to a time when I was not understanding more of the world than he is at 14. I also had in mind a semi-foreign reader who is not raised in the cult of Stefan the Great for example, for whom Decebal is not a familiar figure.

I also had in mind to not go over the general facts. The Internet, the libraries, and the bookstores rebound in testimonies of brutal repression, sometimes so violent that I fear the sensitivity of the Western reader will shut down in a self protection mechanism. Communism for my generation didn’t mean an abrupt fracture of history or life; we were born with it. It had insinuated in our routine existence as a discontinued permanence accompanying every attempt to understand and assume the universe. Communism as we understood it was a mainly a deep and early connection to a sort of  helplessness and resignation. 

It produced a generation of people who didn’t know to fill a tax form, or understand any reason to do so, who didn’t respect wealth but often envied it, who never expected the tiniest piece of good coming from a policeman, and who most never believed in anyone’s honesty except their family if that. It is the population of several European countries, millions of people. I have no idea when or how will they be healed. I see this text as a clean cut in my memory – all journals are such cuts – but , on the neat cut surface, an attentive eye can notice small purulent vesicles, and while delighting in remembering happy days of my childhood, I’m hunting for these vesicles in an attempt of draining them into something if not benign, then at least meaningful.

Finally I left here and there unresolved issues, things hard to understand for someone of a later generation or born in a foreign culture. Possibly some will disappear under successive corrections but part of them are – I hope – roots for questioning, for discussion, for explanations and for Google searches.