I am a new American who eagerly voted for you this election. I congratulate you on Presidents’ Day, even more so since it behooves me to respond to your amiable, inclusive daily emails, at least once in awhile, particularly on such festive occasion as this one.
Now since on your website it is said that, “President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history. That begins with taking comments and questions from you, the public, through our website.” I’d like to tell you a few words that might help your foreign policies regarding my old country, Romania.
Four years ago a simple peasant woman on a train in Romania told me she wants to say a few words to the Romanian president about the harsh life his governance brought upon the people of Romania, and I promised to help her with that. To my dismay I couldn't follow thru. Along the years I included her words in a dramatic collage I created here in New York, but she needs her voice heard in Romania. Well, today I found her phone number and I called her and she's still alive and things are as bad as they were 4 years ago and so she was glad to hear I’d send her letter to both to Mr. Basescu, the Romanian President and to you, President Obama, maybe one of you hears her sorrow and extends some help. Since she is an outspoken citizen, and she truthfully describes the corruption reigning in Romania, I feared for her safety and I asked her if she preferred me to preserve her anonymity, but she bravely wanted her name out, Fanica from Vutcani, Vaslui County.
She also inspired me to put an announcement on my Facebook saying that starting with this year I'll write open letters to presidents. I asked fellow artists if they would like me to say anything on their behalf, or add their concerns to my letter, and this is what they said:
Kevin Crespo would like to ask how he can obtain an Obama phone. Is it too late??
Ginger Hamilton is concerned about the current NDAA and CISPA issues, and hopes you will err on the side of privacy and freedom.
Juan Carbia says, “There's so much to claim, I don't even know how to start!!!! I advocate so many things including commerce leverage for small business owners!!! In a jobless economy, self-sufficiency and financial backing to entrepreneurs should be encouraged and supported!! F**k the capitalist imperialism and its sickening monopoly!!!”
Tammy Winend is rather upset, “I have written to Presidents and politicians. It's a waste of time and energy. You get a form letter in reply and no one gives a damn anyway. But by all means... if you feel good about it, do it!!!”
Well, I hope things have changed at the White House and you’ll really, really respond us. And if the Romanian President shows up with stories of how wonderful life is under his governance, please remember Fanica’s words.
Mr. President, Why Don’t You See Us, the Forgotten of the World, Downtrodden?
Mark My Word, God Might Take His Time, But Never Forgets!
Romania, March, 2009. A train compartment. Fănica, a 43-year-old peasant woman, wears a handkerchief, a brown knitted jacket, and a peasant skirt.
I had thyroid gland surgery in Iaşi. Well, from Iaşi they sent me to Cluj because here is the center of cancer treatment, at the Oncology Institute. I had malignant cancer, my thyroid. That’s what came out at the biopsy. I had an osteoporosis test in Vaslui conducted by someone from Iaşi, Dr. Cojocariu. It cost me 400 thousand the sonogram, 400 thousand the osteoporosis test, 700 thousand my blood works and 250 thousand the consultation. Well, after they took all this money they gave me a prescription for a monthly pill, 2 million. Is it possible?! Let’s see with what will I buy these pills?
What about buying fire wood for the entire winter? I bought fire wood for seven million and when I left there wasn’t even a splinter of wood. What can I put on the fire and what can I eat? I am on a diet and I have to eat fish once in awhile, I have to eat a fruit once in awhile, or to give to my grandchildren a candy or a cookie.
It’s not possible.
Two years ago in May, I went for entopic pregnancy surgery. In January, another cancer surgery, in February yet another one, and now I go again to Cluj. In two years, four operations. We have to bribe the doctor, if you don’t give him, won’t he be discontent? And if he is not content, God forbid.
Look, we have a family doctor in the village. He sent... the woman who works at the PO is ill with her heart. Two years ago, she went to Focşani, she has a daughter that lives there, so that she can have surgery, to see if she has fibroma or not. They told her she had fibroma. They told her to have surgery, but she couldn’t, she didn’t have money and well, she was afraid, so she came back home.
Last week she had a preinfarct and she stayed in Vaslui a week in hospital with doctor Istrate, and they told her daughter that she has a very large cist but she can’t operate on her because she suffers with her heart and fears she won’t live thru it. So they sent her home. Three days ago, on Monday, she came back to Vutcani to the family doctor with another preinfarct and the doctor should have sent her again to Vaslui, but she didn’t want to call the ambulance because it’s costly so she sent her to Bârlad. From there she came back with medicine. Then she went to Roşieni, where she was sent to Iaşi. After two days, they prescribed her injections. The nurse didn’t want to come to her home to give her the injections—though she draws a salary for that—because her legs were hurting her. The woman couldn’t go to the clinic because she was sick, and so she stayed without injections.
Poor us if you fall at their mercy. It’s unbelievable. When I was operated on with entopic pregnancy, two years ago, I ended up in Vaslui. At the sonography they didn’t see anything. On Ascension Day, at midnight, I had D&C. Well, at the D&C, how couldn’t they see that there was no baby in my womb? Saturday morning the doctor calls me, “Ma’am you can go home. You took the medicines; I’ll prescribe you some home treatment.” “Ma’am doctor I can’t go home. You can’t throw me out of here. It’s a state hospital.” She laughed. “Why?” “I can get off my bed but I can’t get back in it. Really, I cannot.” I gave her 500 thousand, that’s all I had, and then she said, “Alright, alright, let’s see on Monday at the medical examination.” And when it was time for the medical examination, I barely crossed the corridor from the office to the ward, and I fell on the floor like dead. Luckily two girls that were in the ward got me up and they operated on me before two o’clock. But were I to go home, I would have died on the road. Tell me, wouldn’t I been dead? Wouldn’t I be dead?
They just trample on us, they simply don’t give a rat’s ass about us, or they are sick of people, or they are greedy for money. But who gives us money? What can I do with my 3 million dissability pension? They make 40, 50 million. But what about me, what can I do? What should I do? It is very hard here.
My husband doesn’t work, he didn’t find work because our region is very bad, we don’t have any income, nothing but my small pension. We registered some of our land at the association. But we don’t get anything back from them, not even the state subsidy. The association gets the subsidy, we pay the taxes, they give us back almost nothing. And what can we live on? What can we do? Where should we go? At least we’ll be fasting until summer, this is what will be next, fasting until summer, we’ll fast, there is nothing else to do.
They live leisurely, in grand style while we are dying of hunger.
Look, I have a son, 24 years old. He got married. With what can I start building a house for this child? With what can I do for him like every parent does? What are we doing with our children? They should be hired. Yeah, but where should they be hired? They lay down conditions, they send them to Vaslui to take some training classes, to pay one and a half million a month for rent! It’s a lot of money. Then, what are you going to feed yourself? Then you take those classes for three months and after that they hire you, but if they fire you, you spent your money for nothing. It is very hard, here in Vaslui region it’s a disaster, a disaster.
I said I’d go abroad, but how can I go? After I had the entopic pregnancy surgery two years ago I said that after I recovered from the operation I’d go abroad, but you need money for that, who’d feed me there, shelter me? Who would? In your own home your own family doesn’t keep you.
Dogs don’t walk with pretzels in their tails there.
It’s very hard, very hard.
They gave us no subsidy from the Ministry of Agriculture. It’s the month of April already. From now on it’s high seeding time. When will they give us that money so we can sow too?
I don’t know which way to go. I don’t. Especially our children. And the children of our children. Where can these children go? And then there should be no stealing? They should not hit you in the head, they should be understanding?! Why? What can they do with themselves? When you’ve ruined the entire industry. Where should they go? What can they do? What can they get started in? They don’t have where to work. Some employers hire them under the table, and then after a little while they fire them.
I had one brother who went to Bucharest. Three long years. And his employer, a cousin of ours, after our mother, the mothers were sisters, and he forced him to work part time, with little pay, then he fired him because he was not reliable. They just found fault with him, that he did this, he did that, just fault finding.
My boy was away in Italy for 10 months. And when he came back he went to work too with our cousin in Bucharest and he said, “Mother, this is a man who thinks only about himself, he simply wanted us to work day and night, we’d go home at midnight and we’d start work at seven. But mother, when can I cook for myself, when do I have time to wash myself?!” He came back. Now he works for the mayor who has a private business with tractors, and my son is the manager.
But it is very hard, very hard.
We said maybe he’d have a baby. We live on nine acres, that’s all, nine acres, square and fare, and we have two households.
Luckily my mother-in-law got married and left our yard, otherwise we’d be three. Can you imagine what kind of life I have? We lived 26 years together. Better don’t ask. I might tell you an entire novel, not one, I believe 20 novels. I had a mother-in-law like there isn’t another one in entire Romania! God, I married when I was 15 years old. He came to my parents saying that he wouldn’t leave without their daughter, and after they brought me to their yard, they shut the doors on me. They made me cook food out of thin air. They’d not leave me meat or beans, or vegetables, and the doors were all locked up. Oh, they tortured me like horse thieves, until I got sick, and when I got sick, mother-in-law married an old man. My father-in-law died two years ago in July and she got married during Lent!
My man was worse than his mother. He’d beat me like horse thieves. Beating like in the Gypsy camp. Worse than that, I don’t think Gypsies beat their wives like he beat me. And he tortured me. Too much he tortured me. That’s why I got sick. I lived under stress. My boys tell me often, “Mother, you are under too much stress all the time! Slow down!” He was away all day long working on the building site, and when he’d come home I’d tell him, “Look what your mother said, look she...” but instead of talking to his mother he’d start beating me! I was a child. What did I know when I was 15? I should have played with dolls. I should have got married only now, but who’d marry me now? Oh, no, thank you, no more marriage for me. Let me run to the end of the world. Lord, I had such a terrible life, I lived a Calvary. These fields saw my sorrow.
My poor children, oh, poor little heads of my children, oh, their poor little heads, my children how hard was to raise them. I wasn’t allowed to bathe them, I wasn’t allowed to bake them a cake, I wasn’t allowed to buy them sweets, on the pretense that I spent her son’s money. He’d come from his shift and he was gone, he drank everything he made. I had nothing, not even Dero detergent. My mother-in-law would not let me buy even Dero. I had to wash my children with caustic soda. You can imagine what a life I had. I wonder how I didn’t go crazy and end up at Socola asylum, I wonder how I didn’t go crazy.
And even now, when I came home from Cluj after the operation, they were trimming the vine and she says to my man, “But is she really ill, is she? Can’t you see how fat she is? Can’t you see she’s big as a cow? Get her out here to work, don’t sweat all alone!” And she jumped to beat me. She couldn’t hit me but she scratched me with her hands, pulled my clothing about, four hours she cursed at me, whatever came to her mouth. I can’t tell you what comes out of her mouth. I don’t think it would have been worse in the jungle. Worse than in the jungle. For four hours no one could stand in front of her. I told her, “If people saw you on TV, they’d shoot you.”
He is awful too. He doesn’t say a nice word to the children, he doesn’t even white wash the walls, he does whatever he wants. He took my medical papers to throw them in the fire. Oh, how many things he did to me. And I should want to live? Or to be healthy… Last fall I came back in October from Cluj, I stayed for four days. When I arrived home he was dead drunk, dead, dead drunk. I came home with 600 thousand. That was all I had. In four days while I was in the hospital I ate four pretzels and two bags of walnuts each 1,000 lei. And he took that money from me, and then he said he lost them. There were 600 thousand, one bill of 500 and one of 100. He either gave it to his mother, or he owed someone and he hid it. He took my ID, he took my medical papers, because I had a disability pension. “You’re not sick. You can walk everywhere.” But they didn’t just give me pension because they felt like it, or I felt like it, but because I’m ill.
My cancer spreads every year. This year only a nodule showed up, and they’ll operate it, but who knows how many will show up next year. If I live till next year. You don’t think they gave me disability pension for apple blossoms, for no reason! But this is all that their head can, this is the poor judgment they have. My man wants me to work day and night, without eating or drinking, or putting a dress on me; to walk dressed in hand-me-downs, with whatever the Lord gave me. I shouldn’t buy myself a shoe or a skirt. Or a cake, let’s say, if I eat a cake I bought he can’t let it go without reproaching me or saying something nasty.
All my life it was like that. Always. Look, I have 30, 27 years since I got married. I’m 43, I have three children, well, what kind of life was this? When I was young I raised the children, my poor head. After the children grew up instead of enjoying them I got sick and I torture them too. Wouldn’t it be better to die? I die and I take their worry away from me. What can I do? I need money for a divorce. Where can I get this money? I told him I might get a divorce. He gave me such beating, almost sora cu moartea/sister to death, screaming, “You have lovers, that’s why you want a divorce!” I don’t wish even to a serpent’s babies to have my life, for it was too hard. Since I was 15 he took me in the field to all agricultural fieldwork. Day and night, like crazy. I gave birth... My first child had a heart illness. Because of them, them beating me, pushing me, forcing me to walk with my bare feet in the snow, in the mud, in the icy winter. When the girl grew up enough for heart surgery, they didn’t let me saying that I’d kill the child. The girl grew up, she got married, she made children and now she has health problems too. But this bears no interest to them. They are only for themselves. To eat, to drink. If we make some 100 pails of wine, he drinks it all until spring, 1,000 kilos of wine. He drinks it all and he is alright. He has no problem, no ailment, nothing. How is he alright while I ache everywhere?
He crushed me all his life.
Don’t go there, neither here, don’t do this! I didn’t have the right to do what I wanted in my own yard, but only do exactly what he wanted me to do, and how he wanted me to do. He didn’t care what I ate, or if I ate. When the children were small I could work. Weeding the vineyard, hoeing in the field, everything. When I came back home, they’d be eating. He’d beat me up. After he’d beat me up, he’d go and eat with his mother, his father. And he’d lock me in the house with the children. And only after they finished eating he’d send me to eat too. Well, could I be eating after that? Was I able to eat after tasting the bitterness of this world? And this is how I lived all my life, and that’s why I ended up the way I ended up. From now on I’m of no use to anybody, but the problem is that I am suffering, that it’s a torture! I need medicine, a fruit, an apple, a banana, a kilo of sugar, so I can bake something sweet. With what? If there is none. He, the entire winter, didn’t put a penny on the table, not even to buy firewood. Nothing. He ate, he drank, and he slept. He didn’t get a penny out of his pocket. So how can I keep on going, how can I struggle forward?
I can’t anymore. This lady doctor too when I arrived in her ward and I told her about my life, asked me why I don’t leave. “Where should I go, Ma’am doctor, in the wide world? “In the wide world, anywhere, but stay away from him.” In the wide world. But who can help me in the wide world?
I’ve seen some people from the railroad, they built some small rooms out of stone. Well, I might talk to them to build me a house, only one room, so I can stay there. I can’t go on anymore, I can’t go on. I tell you, this fall when I came back, I said I’d kill him. I was ready to kill him. If I don’t kill him he’d kill me in the end. I told the priest I’d hit him in the head. “Phooey!!” said the priest. “Father, please. Look this can’t go on anymore like this!” “Daughter, don’t do this, for it’s the devil tempting you.” I calmed down on my poor own. If this is all his head can handle.
Until one fine day, after he’d bury me, then he’d see how hard it is, not now. Only when I won’t be anymore. For I won’t inherit this world. Don’t I have to die anyway one day? Nobody inherits this world. But the cruelty in people! I never thought that I’d meet this kind of people. I can make a mistake, everybody makes mistakes, if I just look somewhere, or I say something. But I mend my mistake, or I can at least think it was not good what I did.
Not him. I just don’t know how he always was just for himself.
We were five children at my parents’ home. I had an older sister, may God forgive her, she died two years ago of cervical cancer. She didn’t have money, she went too late. In six months she died. I have a younger sister, 36, 37. She suffers from epilepsy since she was 19. Her father, also a mad man and a drunkard, didn’t want to take her to see a doctor, and she is sick even to this day. She also has two daughters. And she is ill until the end/salvation day/grave/hereafter. When my older sister fell down, two years ago, when she came back from the wide world in July, my older brother and my little sister brought her, she was ill in the last stages.
And her father didn’t want to take care of her, he threw her out of his yard, and her mother too. They kicked her out! Threw her out of her own yard! And they went to our little sister who had a house in Vrânceni village, Bereveni Commune. She has her own house left to her by the parent who raised my father. And they added more rooms to the house with my older sister, and she buried my dear sister there. She didn’t even have electricity, and she has a daughter in seventh grade. She wrote her schoolwork by candle light until last year on St. Nicolas.
Now they have, finally the village hall gave her approval, but a neighbor would just not let her pull a wire to connect to the electricity pole at any cost. She had to dig in the earth. She needed money to dig. Her pension is 2 million, it’s a disability pension, and with the girl’s state child welfare, that’s what they lived on for many years. Now that my mother moved there, they could install electricity together, and they added a few more little rooms. It’s just a cement house, they need to do many more things, but they don’t have money.
Simply my man separated me from my family. I am not allowed to see my mother. If I talk on the telephone with my mother and my sisters, God forbid what he does! How many times didn’t he smash this telephone! This telephone is destroying His Lordship. His Lordship can’t suffer this telephone. His Lordship wants the telephone out of His sight. He beat me into desperation. I haven’t set my foot in my mother’s yard since October; they can’t come see me either. Because of him they don’t come. He won’t stop calling them hooligans, scoundrels.
Meanwhile his mother is a horrid woman, an evil witch, but he can’t see that. He forgot that my parents built our house in his mother’s yard, they plastered it, they worked day and night, they dug out the cellar, he forgot that. He doesn’t even want to see them again. I told him, “You have to let me go and see her. She gave birth to me and she raised me.”
My mother and my younger sister were for two weeks in the hospital without any help and no one went to see them, to pick them up, bring them home. The girl went to school and didn’t have money, and he didn’t let me go and they stayed two weeks in hospital, both of them without any help, can you reckon that?
What kind of life is this, in the European Union...
Often times I’m about to say something about this Union. It’s unbelievable. Nobody knows anything. You go to the village hall; they push you around till you turn bitter. They make you go from Ana to Caiaphas, from pillar to post, without getting to the bottom of the matter.
I went to the village hall to ask if they give social assistance to my daughter, since she has one child eigthteen months old, and another one newly born, two weeks old. They said they would give her social assistance but she had to do community work nine days a month. But how can she volunteer nine days a month with her children?! How? One child is eighteen months old. She has one child in third grade, one in first grade, one eighteen months old, and one two weeks old. How can this girl go do volunteer work?! I’d like to know, how could she go? She can’t go. I tell you, one could die how things go. And you have to endure. You can’t raise children on the welfare check! “You shouldn’t have made them, mother dearest, for anything in the world!” “Oh, mom, but if it happened!” So you go on raising the children.
We got three hectares of land, they allotted it after the revolution. Before I worked at the collective farm. You should know, Ma’am, that I didn’t have anything against anybody at the collective farm. It’s true I worked very hard. They’d always give us something, much or little, they gave us and I had some money monthly and we could buy things for the children. Nowadays you don’t have a single penny. If I work for people in the village by the day, if they want they pay you, if not, they don’t. That’s what happens when you work by the day.
But then I went to work, though poor me, it was hard work at the collective. Often I’d leave the poor children home, or I’d take them with me, carry them around. Little or a lot, the collective gave us something. Now we don’t have even a bit of sugar. They’d give us sugar and sunflower oil and wheat and vouchers. Nowadays nothing, nothing, nothing. The poor children. I’m relieved that mine are grown up, but there are some who have five, six children, and they have nothing cooking in the kettle. Oh, sure, there are many who don’t bother to work, and it seems mainly those who don’t work are lucky enough to get social assistance, who just loiter in pubs, and the state gives them, while those who’d like to work but can’t, like me, the state doesn’t help them. I wanted to take a bank loan to go to Cluj, so I have for the doctor, for the road, so I have some on me if something happens.
But they denied it, since my disability pension is small and unstable. I thought maybe they’d give me the loan and then I’d slowly give the money back while I start building the house for my son. He can’t take a bank loan since his salary is too small. But it was not possible. What can I do? We’re stuck. If we die, we die, if we live, we live. We are stuck. What can we do?
The sorrow sickens me. What else is like sorrow? What else is like sorrow? I can’t even go weeding. I can’t, I simply can’t. If I go to bring a pail of water from uphill, the house is lower down the hill slope; if I go something presses upon my heart and I cannot, I simply cannot. I’m a large woman, but I don’t have strength.
And I can’t buy anything, everything is expensive. I can’t even buy a pair of panties, with what? With what can I buy a kilo of rice when it is now 50, 60 lei. How much money do I need monthly so I can buy once a month a kilo of rice? So I can buy these medicines? It’s very hard.
I don’t know where these government people live! I ask myself every day. They show on television those fortune games that one won I don’t know how much, that he founded I don’t know what company, I don’t know with what, with what, Mister? Why they give all kind of rights to those who deceive people, why can’t they give money to those that are wretched poor? And those crooked customs officers!
And those parliamentarians, I’ve seen in the parliament one evening how they were sleeping, they were snoring so loud that the windows were rattling and they get 110 million lei. For what? Why can’t they give me 5 million? They sleep! Snore! They were sleeping like logs! Dropped their cell phones on their chests. I want to go to Băsescu one day. My cousin says I’m stupid, no one would let me put my foot in his office. Why shouldn’t they let me? I’m a human being too, am I not? He says they gonna lock me up in jail. Oh, I often want to ask Băsescu, “Mister President, can you live on this money? You, Sir, say we have a good life, we’re living comfortably. But do ask me how much money I get monthly! And what do I offer my children and what do I eat this entire month? Can you live on this, Sir? I have to plow the land and sow it, because I can’t just sit doing nothing. With what money, Sir? It costs 2.5 million per hectare. The taxes I have to pay, contributions to church I have to pay, electricity I have to pay, TV cable I have to pay, I have to, otherwise I can’t watch television. Well, I need a fridge too, then I must have a washing machine, because soon I won’t be able to wash by hand anymore. Maybe I fall down and I can’t wash anymore, do I stay unwashed? Then I need on top of it Dero detergent, and of course I need salt, because I can’t manufacture it myself. All this I need day by day. I need matches which I can’t manufacture; I need salt which I can’t manufacture myself; I need sugar for I didn’t have beets this year to make. Then cooking oil, well, oil I had a bit of sunflower, it might last me a little bit more. I gathered about two ears of corn, a little bit of wheat I have, but only a little. How will I keep poultry, or raise a pig on nothing, with what? We make patriotic sacrifices, still can’t we have some food too? We’re living in the country but we have to buy our potatoes. Nothing grows in the garden, as if we’re cursed, potatoes don’t grow in the garden, neither onions, nor tomatoes. I haven’t eaten tomatoes from my garden in three years, nothing grows. I water it, I always water it. I wanted to save some money this month and the next, so I can buy me a pump so I can get water from uphill down to my yard on the hill slope, but I didn’t have money to go to surgery. With what? This is what I wonder, I don’t know what kind of leadership this is! Don’t they look from time to time downwards? ‘Let’s go and see what they are doing down there!’ Really, we’re forgotten by the world, I have the impression we’re forgotten by the world. Otherwise I don’t see why things got so bad for us. Why don’t you go around and see what’s going on in this country? In our village. But how many others are even more miserable, when I watch television, I live in fine style compared with what I see. Many people are at the end of their rope, they’re so many.
I don’t understand why it was allowed to open so many boutiques selling wine and brandy and whisky and every alcohol in the world and they get drunk like pigs and they beat each other like animals. Why can’t you have some stores with food, and make this food a little bit cheaper? They can sell the wine even with 200 million a kilo, what do I care? Who wants it, let them buy it. Wherever you go, really, wherever you turn around, everywhere just boutiques with wine and all kinds of drinks. Why did they allow them to open so many? And with what did they open them? This is what interests me. With what? From where? Why I couldn’t even make a proper house and these ones have villas.
From where? They dupe us, that’s from where.
I bought a Rexona deodorant from a store with 100 thousand! My daughter bought it with 75 thousand and they sold it to me with 100 thousand. Wasn’t it the very same store? Wasn’t it the same deodorant? They cheat everybody. It’s our country! But, but such mafia solidified in Romania that even the devil can’t unravel it. No, this is all I can see! Perhaps I’m stupid because I didn’t see enough of the world. Perhaps I don’t understand what’s going on, but I don’t see any good things in Romania at all. Our country went to the dogs. Where is Băsescu when so many people are kicked out of their homes? Those people paid for their houses. Why are some allowed to have both houses in the village and apartments in the city? I’d like to know that. With what?
Ever since I remember I went to work. When I was a child I went with my mother to the collective farm. She’d take me with her to hoe, to weed, she took me with her. When I turned 15 and I married, I always went to work. Especially at the collective farm. Be it a thunderstorm, be it snowing, I sure know I never stayed home. I worked until I dropped dead, so I can raise my children, so I can help them have a start in life. And I didn’t manage. I wasn’t a drunk, I wasn’t a whore. I can’t understand why I didn’t manage. Haven’t I worked with my two hands like everyone else? Why I didn’t manage? Why I couldn’t help at least one child? Why I couldn’t say, “I give at least one million to one of my children, one million, so he can do something, or go on an excursion abroad.” Why? What was the reason? What?
To others like it flows down the river. Like it falls into their laps. I haven’t seen such a thing! Overnight you see them with villas, you see them with thermopanes! From where? I didn’t manage to build one house from even mud bricks! I don’t know, this is how I see matters. The children have nothing to hold on to. You give them only alcohol and discothèques. So much freedom! True, it wasn’t good how we grew up, with no freedom, but neither how these kids are now. They don’t see anything good. You don’t care about school, you don’t fear the teacher?! You don’t care about uniform, about school rules, you don’t care about anything! They go in skimpy skirts, with phones! What is this? Was it like this in my time? Was school like this?! Phooey!
I made a herbarium once, a dry-plant collection. The schoolmistress, I won’t ever forget, even when I die, she had us make a herbarium. I gathered a few weeds, I pressed them in a book and put it on top of the adobe stove, but it got on fire. It got on fire. When I went to class, “Miss, where is your herbarium?” “Well, comrade principal, it’s at home but the weeds turned red.” “Let me see them!” I went home, I lived nearby the school. She beat my palm so hard that I couldn’t write. Next year no one had such a beautiful herbarium like mine. But she was very strict.
Nowadays, they beat the teachers in schools. The pupils beat the teachers in school. Does this happen anywhere else? Nowhere else but here in Romania. The pupils beat their teachers. Or the teachers sleep with their pupils. Where else has this happened? I don’t know! Where, where does Băsescu live? Why no measure is taken with these people?
You go to the village hall, if they feel like it they help you; if not, not. “I don’t feel like it!” “But, Sir…” If you don’t feel like it, go home and let another one to do your job.
We are very poorly informed. We just learn about new laws from hearsay, that the state will give something or do something for us, or you have to register a document. Poor us, we are very badly informed...
The gentleman that got off earlier on the train at Campu Lung said we’re used to hand me downs, with spoon feeding, we aren’t eager to work with our own hands. But there is no one to give us help. During Ceauşescu they gave jobs to our children, and there wasn’t so much helter-skelter, disorder, so much freedom. There weren’t so many killings, there weren’t! I don’t know what happened nowadays. It’s such madness, such a Babylonia. Nowadays you can’t even get along with your own child. What’s going on? Aren’t we the same? Aren’t we people?
I don’t know what’s happening.
They will be selling us out. The Italians are buying our land. Nobody informs the people why. You sell your land. They give you 10 million a hectare and next year you don’t have your land anymore. Why don’t people put their plots together, like it used to be at the collective farm, and use tractors? Why can’t we just keep only one hectare to plow ourselves and the rest put it together? A hectare is enough for us to plow. In the past we gathered the crop from only 30 acres and we managed. We had poultry and a pig in our yard, even a cow, and about 21 sheep.
But now the Italians come and buy the land and sow it. They work it. They sow wheat, everything. Where do they take it, no one knows, only them. They sow it and take it away. Many people sold their land. So they can live. I’d like to buy a house for my youngest son. So I can see that my children have a better life.
Some have too spoiled a life, and others have too rotten a life.
My sister didn’t have light in her home. I had moments when I couldn’t sleep, thinking about where are our leaders. Her daughter writes by candlelight, like in a primitive age. And how many more are like this? Mercy on their poor heads. How many? How many? It can’t go on like this. There are entire villages. If you go along Vaslui River, all these villages are wretched, downcast, poor as a church mouse, stripped naked like the earth, downtrodden into the land. There are some, poor ones, who started to build their houses and didn’t have the means to roof them and the houses fell on them and now they are in ruins.
Look, the house of a poor young man burned down, and it burned to foundation, all all all, down to ashes. He went around the village and begged for a bit of corn and wheat, whatever they could give. The Vutcani mayoress gave him planks and he was able to raise his house back.
We have this mayoress, it would be a sin to say she’s a bad woman, but she can’t keep abreast of so many people who tear her apart. Some hate her, she can’t please everybody. It crossed my mind to go to the village hall, find work. But what can I do there? I can’t be a mayor. Mercy on me! I didn’t even go to high school, nothing, what could I do at the village hall? You have a conversation with people, meetings, what would I say? [Laughs] I wanted a job, something. I went to the schoolmistress after the revolution to be hired, at least as a cleaning lady. But she didn’t want to hire me ‘cause I’m old.
Then hire at least my children, give me at least a job for my children. I’ll work in the yard, I’ll raise my son’s children. Help is needed there too. If they make children I could take that worry from them, save them that worry, I could raise them somehow, if I still can with this operation. So they don’t worry about tomorrow.
I worry a lot about this country. What will we eat, what will I put on their table, what will I put on their backs? Tomorrow, what will they be doing, because mercy on me, I can’t go on anymore, though I didn’t pray for riches. I really didn’t want riches. All I wanted was a modest house where I could be all alone, in my corner, with no one to order me, go there, do this, until I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I really didn’t know what to do, because they were never satisfied, they never liked anything I did. Yelled that I broke this, I messed this up, but were I to have my own corner whatever I broke would have been alright, since it was mine. If only I had not lived with my mother-in-law. We built a house, but in her yard.
I should have written the house title in my son’s name.
Oh, dear lady, dear lady, I’d have to be stupid or fallen on my head to get married again. Have I not lived a bitter life? I’d make my happiness alone. If I am all alone, poor me, I’ll make my happiness alone.
I need to be left alone, have peace.
After I came home from Cluj I had my oldest daughter’s little son with me, the eighteen months old. I weaned him. We stayed in one room with the TV to save on firewood. My entire pension went on firewood. Our land covered in forests and we buy wood. I’d keep the little boy next to me, and with the little money I have I’d manage, just me and the boy.
How many aren’t beaten by their men, oh, how many aren’t beaten... After I grew up and got married, only eight months were nice and beautiful. After eight months he started beating me. When I grew up I’d tell my mother, “Mother, you were so stupid to stay with your man when he beat you up, and on top you made him five children!” Well, when I had my own children, my youngest daughter started to judge me, “What for did you make five children, mother, so we suffer next to you?” What could I say to the poor child? I started to cry. What could I say? I suffered thru it, put up with him, I didn’t want to take my children apart, all I could do was to stick it out until they grow up.
I went to the police, when I gave birth to my son, in ‘87, he beat me black and blue. I took my boys and went to the police... His aunt on his father’s side was the mayor then and she turned me back, “Fănica, calm down. Dear Fănica, where will you leave your children? Fănica, go back...” She didn’t help me, but I left him in the end. Though I went back to him, I went back. When I heard that my daughter was sick, I wanted to grow wings and fly to see my daughter. So I went back and I made him another daughter. And then he’d beat me worse than before I left him, what a circus! His mother cursed me so much. “You left your man. You went away. You’re a whore. A tramp! You are this and that way.” They’d both curse me despicably, he and the mother-in-law, cursed me and the children. I said, “May God and Our Lord’s Mother give her happiness to her children”—she also has a daughter and another son—“may she draw happiness from her children if her lies are proven true, that I’ve ever cheated on him, that I’ve even once two-timed him.” Well, her daughter is 37 and she’s not married, and her other son is 43 and he’s not married. She got no happiness from either of them, for God doesn’t sleep. At times He puts off, but He doesn’t forget.
Were I to have the power, I’d gather all those like them at the end of the village, and I’d shoot them all to the last one. At times I was so desperate that I was ready to kill him. I’d tell to my children I’d kill him, and the children cried, “Dear sweet mother, quiet down.” I’d go knife in hand to cut off my throat and the youngest daughter would come along and say, “Mother, you’re so stupid, dear. God gave you these days to fully live them up, why would you kill yourself?” I’d go back crying, knife in hand, how many times, how many times? Only my soul knows how many sins I made while I cursed myself to die. It’s not enough that others cursed me, I had to curse myself too. I saw I had no power when they’d say, Don’t go there! Don’t do that! Don’t give that! Don’t you dare!
I couldn’t, that’s the kind of person I am, if someone in trouble stepped into my yard to ask for my help, I had to help them, that’s how I am.
A woman came after I came back from the hospital in Iaşi, destitute, God knows where her footsteps took her, she was all rags and she started crying when she arrived at my gate. My daughter-in-law called me out, “Mother, someone wants to talk to you!” When I got out, what did I see? A poor woman at the end of her rope. She was begging, gathering money for her sick child, “Ma’am, my child needs surgery, if you can and you want, please help me.” I was wondering, should I give her money? What if my man comes and I tell him, or he sees the missing money. But I gave her 100 thousand, that’s all I had. I just came myself from surgery, my staples still in my neck. “Here girl, I give you from the little I have, the same way others gave me.”
The first time I came to Cluj I didn’t know anybody. I had a brother by my father who had lived in Cluj, but he sold the apartment and moved to Gâlda. He came to fetch me from the train station in Cluj and took me to one of his godsons. I’ve never met him before, but this man gave me a soft bed, some food, and a kind word. Why couldn’t I offer the same to someone else too? I’m a person too. The way I needed his help, perhaps another person needs my help. But many don’t see it this way, all they want is to get something for themselves, but this is not who I am.
Then when I came last time to Cluj, it was soccer championship and it was such a crowd. You couldn’t find a spot to place your foot, such a crowd. When I got off the train at two in the night. It was cold, it was drizzling. I traveled with a lady from Bacău, she also came to see her sister ill with cancer. And she says, “Let’s get into a taxi together. I get off at the Military Center, and you go to the hospital.” We took the taxi. She got off at the Center, I went to the hospital. When I arrived, no one was there. You could shoot a gun. The night watch was gone to lock the doors. I waited for quite awhile until he showed up. And he says—I even said that God always protected me—he says, “Ma’am, I can’t let you freeze here.” But I was content, “It’s alright, sir. I’ll sit here on a chair and someone has to come. They can’t leave the hospital like this all night long, someone has to come.” But he says, “No, Ma’am, I can’t let you freeze here, come with me to the chapel.” And he took my bag and we went to a chapel where they let people sleep there over night. I paid 60 thousand and the father found me a bed and I slept.
So, I always say, God always protected me. And I was about to cut off my neck, like a weakling fool!
I had my oldest granddaughter, third grade, over the holidays. And one night she wakes up, her mother is pregnant and has a large belly, I had twins and she was afraid she’d have twins too, such a big belly. My daughter has a heart condition from birth. I could have taken her to surgery, but with what money? This is what I’d like to tell Băsăscu, I’d like to be able to have my child operated on, so I can be sure she’s healed.
And one night, we spoke in the evening, and I prayed to the naked walls, “God, may You protect my daughter from having two children. God forbid she dies. But if she does have twins, may they be healthy, and get her thru it alright.” In the morning my granddaughter wakes up and says, “Granny, do you know what I dreamt last night? I dreamt, granny, an old man who said he was Our Dear Lord, with His white beard, and He said I should tell you to stop doing good deeds for people because they are your enemies. You should take care of yourself and do good deeds first of all for yourself.” I was dumbfounded and I started crying. I’m telling you, what crossed her childish head, “Yes, granny, this is what I dreamt. Mother made two boys and I dreamt an old man said you shouldn’t be kind to anybody but to yourself, you should stop performing good deeds.” As if I broke my back performing good deeds!
I gave as much as I could.
If someone came to my gate, I gave them as much as I could. If I had two eggs, I gave them one. I couldn’t and I can’t do otherwise. Especially since we all grew up, five siblings together, we were so miserable, downtrodden, with an hopelessly drunkard father. My poor mother worked together with us until we couldn’t see straight. And now, how shouldn’t I go talk to my brother? We loved each other with my siblings. Before getting married I never quarreled with my siblings. And now we don’t see each other anymore, my oldest brother doesn’t speak too much with me, because of my man. What do you think? He beat me to death at my son’s wedding. I had that nodule on my throat and the entopic pregnancy operation. He was to kill me, claiming namely that I slept with my brother. And my brother lived in Bucharest, I haven’t seen him for a year of days. I guess we were sleeping together thru telepathy, what can I say? If people are stupid, that’s how they stay.
But such a callous man, I don’t know how I lived with him!
Wild beast. I ask myself day and night, why I get into bed next to this wild beast. That’s what he is, only a wild beast, a wild brute. How? How have I made five children, and how many abortions I made with my own poor hands. I slashed my insides, because I couldn’t go to the doctor, he wouldn’t give me money. How did he torture me and beat me that they were not his children. My man didn’t know anything else besides sleeping with a woman, nothing else. To drink, to beat, and sleep with a woman, nothing else besides that. If he did something, it was only with fuss, only with heads butting, only with circus. My children grew up with chaos in the yard. My children didn’t hear us speaking nicely in the house, without yelling. If we had a problem to see us debate the problem to find an end to it, no, just egging and raining. Always scandal... Always scandal... Always with cursing, always swearing. No nice words like, “Look, today I go to Cluj and I don’t know if I come back alive.” None.
I left all my children crying. “Don’t cry, children! Be reassured that God is great.” “Wouldn’t I like to come to see you?” “Don’t come, mother dearest, rest assured...” There isn’t money left to travel for them, poor things. I paid 2 million 130 thousand the light, electricity, then gave 180 thousand so they pay the cable TV. I left 1 million and a half at home, I have 200 thousand debt at a store, since I bought pampers for my daughter’s baby. And in case they operate on me, enough for them to come and pick me up after the operation. Why should they come visit me?
Am I not fed up with him? To see him drunk again? Let me be, don’t make me sweat here too! He doesn’t work anything. He dug a well, but he didn’t hit water. He dug 70 meters. 1 million 200 per cement tube. Two days they dug and couldn’t find water, and even if he couldn’t find water he still needs to pay half of it. So on what could my daughter come visit me? We talk on the phone. I brought my charger with me. We call each other and talk. What can we do? It’s far away and it’s costly to come to the hospital. If one child comes to see me, they need 2 million lei to go back and forth. And two lost days. And I don’t even know if they’ll operate me or not. The doctor said in Iaşi they’d operate me, but I don’t know. Let’s say they operate me today, tomorrow… Last time they operated on 27, a Thursday, no, Wednesday evening, they kept me there on Thursday, and Friday at noon they let me go, with a still open cut and the staples on the train. Though I gave them 3 million, one million and a half to the anesthesiologist and 3 million to the doctor, that’s all I had, and still they weren’t content and sent me home. Well? Thanks God I didn’t have complications. Only the scar stings and burns me strongly. What can I do, but go forward. Wherever you go is just the same. When that man died in Iaşi it was such a clamoring with the doctors, all, “No, I don’t take gifts!” or, “I don’t do that!” But of course they do, of course they do. They don’t know how to take more from you. 400 thousand for an osteoporosis test, then 400 thousand for a mere blood work, 400 thousand! They strip you off. And on the little scrap of paper, on the receipt she wrote only half the price. I told her, “Ma’am, I don’t have it, I simply don’t have it. I don’t even have anything left to go home.” And anyway why didn’t she put all the money on the receipt? Where is the money going?
But you can’t ask them. You’re scared to ask them. The doctors are not checked upon, they aren’t checked upon.
And on the day I took my osteoporosis test there were 30 women ahead of me, and after me another seven, eight. Each 400 thousand a test. A lot of money came in from 30 women. Plus the sonogram, plus the consultation, plus the blood work. How much money got into that doctor’s hand! Why? This doctor has a salary. I have only a 3 million pension but he has a 40 million salary, doesn’t he? What is he taking my little money for? When you’re ill you give them even what you don’t have. You have no choice.
I understand that it is crisis, but every day prices go up, the sale taxes go up, may the devil take them with him. But if they raised the sale taxes and the meat is more expensive and the sugar is now 50 thousand a kilo, why they still give me only 3 million pension. Why do the prices raise? Why? And why do they have different prices in each store?
I might have got it all wrong, but it’s too much lawlessness in this world and we can’t live anymore.
I am tormented by this, I can’t sleep at times the entire night. Were they to do something, were Băsăscu to hear us... At times I speak aloud to myself, as if I’m crazy at times. Where does this man live, doesn’t he see what’s going on in this country? Can’t he see? He’s a person like I am? Are’t you a person? Yes, just like me. You’re not a devil.
For the Romanian version please go to: http://ellaveres.blogspot.com/2013/02/scrisoare-deschisa-adresata-excelentei.html
Note: On March 4th, 2013 I received an email from President Basescu's office:
Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 4:14 AM
Doamna Ella Veres,
Am luat cunostinta din petitia adresata Presedintelui României, domnul Traian Basescu, despre solicitarea dumneavoastra.
În vederea analizarii problemelor semnalate, petitia dumneavoastra a fost trimisa la Agentia Judeteana pentru Plati si Inspectie Sociala VASLUI.
Urmeaza ca, în termenul legal, institutia sesizata sa comunice, Administratiei Prezidentiale si dumneavoastra, solutia adoptata.
Consilier de Stat
If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, fight against corruption being one of them, I’d be ever so grateful.
If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, fight against corruption being one of them, I’d be ever so grateful.
March 28, 2013