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The People of My World (2)

The people of my world are nothing but the sum of certain wondrous encounters. Over the years, I have pinned them fast to my emotional panoply. Some of these people I only passed by in my travels while others I keep revisiting as I have for years on end. I lingered beside many of them at some point in space and time, trying to figure each and everyone out. They have all taught me something important about life. I have passionately taken pictures of them all and I’ll be trying now to tell their story. My world would be much smaller and blander had I never met them. Let me, therefore, extend my gratitude to any and all such characters.



As Seen by Me

The frost nested in the bent metal of the sled runners bites his fingertips through his holed gloves. Lying on his belly, with his boot pointed to the ground barely swishing the snow dust, Albert holds on to the sled for dear life. And this life of his darts down the Fluturica Hill tempestuously all the way up to the end of the street where the narrow road funnels out so that the 5 o’clock bus might execute a three-point turn, one event that seems to have been happening ever since the commune of Cârlibaba came into being. His eyes water and his woolen cap shakes on the top of his head slowly sliding over his face, but he gnashes his teeth and clenches his hands onto those metal bars with those holed gloves because his friend, Traian, is ahead of him and must be caught up. From behind, the others are coming too: Cristina, Vasilică, known as Șile, and Alex the Trumpeter. It’s getting dark, you can hardly see anything anymore, and there’s no time for another round, that’s for sure. Hollers are heard from the rear, suggesting the kids are not far away, which adds speed and even more excitement to the descent.

Then, all of a sudden, with a clank, the sled runner hits the tip of the boulder hidden under the snow. The child’s body flies through the air, the cap is left behind, and the world which seemed normal a second ago turns upside down. The sled is thrown off, rolling in the snow, together with its handler. Dazed by the bump, Albert sits up like a patient after a long period of convalescence and watches how the other three sleds storm by him and vanish into the twilight mist blending the white powder with roars of laughter. He is not hurt, yet his heart races and he doesn’t know why. He feels like laughing and crying at the same time. He goes, however, with laughing. At one scoop, he puts on the topsy-turvy cap, hops back on the sled and slides down the slope. Under the neon bulb, the other children are waiting for him as if showering in that silver light all with their gloves, scarves and caps. Albert stands up guffawing. Two large tears fill the corners of his eyes, apparently owing to speed.

Albert si calul

As Seen by Doctor Gordan

“Albert was a wonderful boy, full of beans, like any child. Actually, I delivered all three children either at home, or at the clinic. I saw them growing up and playing football right on this street. I used to scorn them all the time for their careless littering. I kept their medical records, gave them cough syrup when they were little and wrote them excuse notes for school. They came carolling every winter, with the so-called herods in the Nativity plays; you could have hardly recognized any of them behind those masks. They were almost inseparable. One day, Albert was struck by a horse and people brought him unconscious to the clinic. It was quite serious, he needed to be operated right away. He died the next day, in the town of Dorna. Traian has been sick at heart ever since. He rarely speaks to anyone. I hear he lumbers in the woods most of the time and occasionally lets himself loose at the disco when he has a beer too many. As for Cristina, I’ve found out that after her parents broke up, she moved in with her mother to the other end of the village and now she works in some pub. Most unfortunate… It’s a sad, sad story.”

As Seen by His Mother

“I used to take day jobs chopping logs with a chainsaw here and there. I was due in a week and was still doing it. On the 27th of January, I went to the clinic and had Albert. It was easy, the labour took no more than two hours. The doctor, bless his heart, kept joking around, he was much younger back then. He sent my husband home to fetch me a nightgown. I’ll never forget the doctor showing up in the door with that red and black gown: ‘Look, Aurica, your ball dress has just arrived.’ When Albert died, he came and gave me some painkillers telling me how sorry he was. The priest told me that God loved Albert a lot and that’s why He took him. Didn’t He care about me? Who could ever comfort a mother? Do I not miss my child? But, you know, that’s how priests are, they have to say something, don’t they?”

mama lui Albert


Sometimes, photography is not a good communication means. Memory outweighs photography. When I took my favourite photo of Albert to Aurica, she almost couldn’t recognize her son. It was too artsy, I guess. Instead, she showed me herself some pictures of his son, the way she remembered him. Pictures from the funeral as well: “He looks as if he were sleeping, doesn’t he?”

Albert was a serene, joyful, handsome boy, who had a home and friends and loved games as much as he loved horses. Sometimes, however, the things you love the most can kill you. He could have never imagined the things I’ve learned from him, including what you should do once you tumble while riding a sled downhill at full speed: go with laughing.