Thursday, June 8, 2017

Flying House, by Victoria Munteanu

                                                          Flying House

A few years ago I thought that I wanted  to go to Germany. Back home in Moldova, they said that in Germany people have work. If you work you can have everything you need: food, clothes, a place to live. A few years later I found a job as Au-Pair in Frankfurt am Main. I prepared for the interview reading heaps of books. The voice of Germany came with an echo. It sounded  large and empty. I was accepted. They even sent me a family photo. The kind of photo we never did at home. Soon afterwards, I was watching the perfect contour of the German territory from above, flying over.

People in Moldova don’t know what tranquility is. At that time, people were stinking rich or  slightly dead. The middle class was formed once people started going out. The family I come from behaved quite strangely. Everyone chose to stay. My father  has three brothers, each with their wife and children. Only my father chose to go away.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was, maybe in the middle school or even earlier. One thing is for sure, we were already living in the new house.
Building this house, this goddam house, was such a high price to pay. How shall I put it, in Moldova, at that time, if you didn’t have a place to live you would build it. Money, having them and using them to get things done was a second, a third option. Money was evil. People started a project hoping for God to help them. Yes, we were limited but we were happy not knowing. Happy in our smallness. Happy at the beginning. In time, we were dragged into desperation. The happy injected eyes wanted to know more. Wanted to go outside.There is the possibility to have a different life only if you go out and get it.

My father decided to go. He went to Portugal. A small community of Moldovans was already rooted there.
My father the bright soul. My mother the warrior. They knew it, if they wanted to have a house and raise their children, he must leave. It was a survival choice.
They borrowed money, a lot of money at that time. Plus the rate. The business of lending money at high rates was thus born. With it a new wave of rage flushed the country.

For the next three years we never saw him. We only heard him.
This is when I stopped talking.
I started listening to any sound that could help me understand what was going on. Any sound that would help me patch the hole. I became afraid and sensitive but also protective, alert and  ready to cut someone's throat if required. As I did, I cut a chicken's throat and cooked it. Because my mother needed help. She was working at the hospital. Somebody had to cook, clean the house, help in the garden, carry water. My sister and I would fill up a few containers, from the neighbor’s well. I would be turning the wheel, the full bucket was heavy, moaning on the way out of the darkness. My sister would carry it home. My mother would let us study and read at times, she would take the two big buckets and go by herself.

We heard his voice on Sundays only, calling at the hospital. We did not have a phone at home. The rooms were still bare. My mother worked in the tuberculosis section. He would call us on Sundays, we had to wait there.

We would be waiting for the call in the quiet hospital room. The phone was on the doctor’s desk. I opened the drawers silently. Just a little bit, to peek in. On the desk, a thick sheet of glass covered a calendar, notes etc.

We stood there and waited for the phone to ring.

After a while we switched waiting at the neighbor’s house. She had a phone. Her husband was frequenting Russia. Many years in a row. His son took the same road afterwards. Each time he came back home angrier and angrier. She was getting fatter and fatter. Her heavy breasts and the puffy body were moving slowly as if walking through a swamp. Each move drags you deeper.
I refused to talk to him in that house. They were all listening and laughing. My mother was angry at me. Talk, talk to your father! He can’t wait for you, this is expensive!
No! No! No! I would not talk to my father in this house. The only thing I want to say, I can’t say. I want to say: I miss you daddy, come back.

I wrote instead.

On the wall in the basement I wrote: Daddy, I am waiting for you!

And so I did.

The house was not ready. In the naked rooms my voice was loud. Daddy, I am waiting for you! Daddy, I am waiting for you!
The roof was leaking. The stove was stuck. The smoke came all back in and we had to open the windows, the doors. What a pleasure to be in a flying house, wings large open, floating in the middle of the winter. Fly! Fly ! Let’s get away from here! Go away!

But this house was deeply rooted in the ground. I watched it deepen. First the ground was carved- a hole bitten in the soil. A black mountain rose on the other side of the yard. Grass and little wild flowers would grow and die on it. Me and my sister would be playing on top. Building castles.

The heavy breasted neighbor would come during these stormy nights. She would hold her hands on the meaty hips and watch. The house was angry, smoke was coming out it. All of us smelled like angry, stupid, hungry animals. Then she would leave.

My mother, my courageous mother did the best she could. But she was so angry, so deeply hurt. Every time she wanted something in her life it was taken away. Father. Youth. Peace. Love. Freedom. Femininity. One moment of serenity would have to be paid with days and years of chaos. My mother, my kind and loving mother hit us. She was angry.
This is the moment when I learned that my need of love, care and understanding would be met only if I suffer.
Afterwards, she could never find a dress for herself. A dress, a simple dress. She didn’t find it. Until now. She will forever miss it, be afraid of finding it.
A few year ago I accompanied her at the market in Chisinau. Once again she was determined to find a dress. The dress. There were many fitting her. But not one of them really did. She didn’t like them. She rejected them enraged. A quiet rage pretending to be life. Once again she would return home without a dress but with a new pot flower, a new tea towel, food.

The day when my father returned was shocking.

My mother had cut her hair short. Her face was stern, the body rigid. We were waiting for him at the window. The kitchen window opens towards the gate, the road. It was summer. I had no socks on.
He appeared at the gate, slim, tall, sunny, brown. He had no bags, no luggage, walking a young, slightly hopping walk. Now the voice had a body.
Tension. Curious looks. Strangers in a flying house.
The short haired mother poured soup. He was touching my bare feet smiling. I missed these little feet so much, he said. I was sitting there watching him. No sound.
My sister, where was she? She was right next to me but she was not present, this whole time. Her happy spirit decided to leave the flying house for a while. I felt, her physical presence as I feel it now, but I am still waiting for her to decide to come back, to trust again.

Where was the luggage? The money? That is what that mother wanted to know.
Everything was in Romania at a friend’s house. He had to drop everything there for some reason. He would go next week or so and pick them up. Romania? Friends? Go again?
That was so loud! That was a storm in my ears! Bang! Bang! Bang! The house started flying again. So far away.
At that time In Moldova, just a few years ago, one could not go out just like that. Passports and visas were needed. Even for Romania. It was only years later that I could go out.
My mother’s anger exploded.
He left again.
After that, I don’t remember.

Fast-forwarding, why did I return from Frankfurt am Main when I finally got there, using all my savings?  Because the beautiful two storied mansion, with a perfect garden and a  playing ground in the back was also a flying house. The two little German children were already angry.
After two weeks I was back to Moldova leaving behind a beautiful castle.

I am now in Brno, more than 15 year later and I am trying to get my voice back.
Still working on that. My work consists in talking to voices, over the phone. Different voices. A lot of them. Some are kind, some are tired, some are angry and arrogant. I am here listening to each one of them.
I am not a surviving animal anymore. I am a love generating one. I am consciously choosing this role because I can’t exist in a loveless place. And I want a reason to be here.

1 comment:

  1. Good post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Appreciate it!
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