The Muff Pistol

by Viorel Marineasa [Romania]

 translated from Romanian by Dorothy McCarthy and Oana Badea

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The first things you find out about yourself derive from others, of course, but  soon are becoming so pressing that you seem set out in your  return to them, if not all the time, at least very often. I wouldn’t venture to pretend to be a cyborg, by saying, for example, that the understanding of the run across the cornfield near Lugoj, under bombings produced either by the Anglo-Americans or by the Germans, with my parents transferring me hastily in their arms, owes its existence to my new temptation, that of transforming my cartilages into memory; I couldn’t even specify if, while they were taking me aboard the Pacific steam engine to Iablaniţa, in order to be baptized there, a Dumdum bullet really penetrated the thick boiler, as my uncle Nicolae insisted; suffice it to say that we kept the relic in the house for a long time, since someone had had the good sense to retrieve it as a post-war keepsake. Speaking of guns and ammunition, I don’t even want to remember if I really saw the lady’s pistol with which Traian Grozăvescu was murdered by his wife, or if everything was only a backward dissemination, built upon intimate discomforts, or if they were corrupted images of the prose of Sorin Titel with movies that the writer from Banat watched excessively—look, there’s the gun in the water (in the Mureş river?), filmed by a headstrong diver—not wanting to absolve from guilt that which was uncertain.

 

Here too are some partially serene war scenes. My parents told me how, during the conflict, Lugoj was the host of numerous My Fair Lady shows, with Stroe and Vasilache, allegedly, because the former was banned, being Jewish; then it was the turn of the latter, who had fallen into disfavor with the new government.

 

For a while now, in search of identity and supporters, illustrious adulators driven by the wave of a vague notoriety, have passed themselves off as more or less direct descendants of the people in the towns where they end up making speeches. Foolish, but true, and, to speak plainly, I really should pass for an inhabitant of Lugoj, since I was born a couple of feet away from the town. An obsessional town in the first part of my childhood, because it was from there that I expected my mother and father to return on foot, by wagon or by hackney, bringing along, despite the poverty after the war  in the first years of communism, something that couldn’t be compensated for even by the incantation of my grandmother, who, with a cross-shaped coal soaked in a glass of water, cleared away my premature anxiety.

 

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