Landscape With Voters
EMIL HUREZEANU - June 23 2004Some time ago, during the times of the unanimity and police-state, the name the well-heeled gave to the many was "Nicolae-like." It referred to the people who stood up to cheer or who voted like a maneuver mass. Still, one election day during those times when elections were faked, on November 15, 1987, the "Nicolae-like" people brought to the ground the pictures of Nicolae (TR. NOTE: Ceausescu, former Romanian dictator, overthrown by the December 1989 revolution and subsequently executed), a deed which anthropologically speaking was equivalent to a kill of the ruling kings.
When the hoodlums (TR. NOTE: name used by Ceausescu to describe the people protesting in December 1989 in Timisoara, in Western Romania) were breaking shop-windows in Timisoara and the working class people of Craiova (TR. NOTE: South-Western Romanian city) were handed bats to fight the people in Timisoara, I did not think they will all come to be called in December 1989 "the collective hero of freedom."
For a few hours they were all semi-Gods; that lasted until the former leaders of the past Dark Age disguised themselves under the drape of democracy to reign again. Then the lot was again parted into hoodlums, extreme right-wingers, secret service people, miners, well intended people, independent people, and "what-did-you-do-in-the-past-five-years" people.
Only a few people dared put on white shirts on 15 November 1990 (TR. NOTE: the anniversary of the first popular uprising against Ceausescu), as a reminder of a long-awaited dignity. Nor the monarchy, the church, the communism or the Securitate (TR. NOTE: former secret police) managed to have their final say since intellectuals got beaten up while hysterical house-wives with permed hair took passers-by as live targets to practice their flower-pods throwing on Bucharest boulevards. (TR. NOTE: the author alludes to the incidents of 13 June 1990, when a four-month long sit-in demonstration against the political regime in Bucharest down-town was abruptly ended by police force; the miners came to the capital city to restore order on 14 and 15 of June.)
We got to a sort of staled compromise, for the sake of the general interest, with peace working as the mobilizing solid factor. This turned us, in time, ripe for the labels cast upon us in seminars of socialists who dodged their pro-Mitterrand hue: we are viewed as a cheerful tribe, with more newspapers than journalists, lacking color but strong in body odor, holding grudges, looking into its past, with a heavy foot IMGB-like (TR. NOTE: large industrial compound in Bucharest, were supporters of the current and 1990 ruling power originated too), and a weak strain of GSD-like people (TR. NOTE: the Group of Social Dialogue was formed by intellectuals opposed to the ruling elite of 1990).
We thus made a shapeless body but have a huge head on top of it, where from sightings of the May 1st parades looked back at you, when you gave it a closer examination.
Then was the time a new name emerged for the many: the bison. "The bison" came to mean a sort of former population with strong hues of "Nicolae-like" people, who just missed the opportunity to turn itself into "a people;" it leaned a little bit to the left, it was vehemently to the right, it was of the political center; it supported the state-owned economic system; it was corrupt in a passive way; it was populist in an active way; it jumped on the band wagon while at the same time waving good-bye to the departing train; it was one population the chieftains can have their way with.
Our "bison" had his forehead pampered in the arena, and his but kicked in the wings; he was groomed on TV and swore at in the stables; he was the public pet of ministers while privately emasculated by tax-collectors. "The bison is to blame," postgraduate students exclaimed at this or that seminar looking into the reservations of the East. "The bison knows his way around," grumbled his cruel and yet just masters ...
The bison was not by himself in this world. He had a country that his elite identified under the code name of "Romanica." Romanica is the soft and vaguely post-modern version of a developing country, with a population that is going to turn into NATO and EU material while in a state of hypnosis. Some expats observing the seen, cast upon her this cute name, without her knowing it, in an attempt to see the malnourished girl turn into a strong, fighting woman.
The years passed by, and nowadays, the people in the General Berthelot village, of County Hunedoara, will vote again next Sunday. The Sun Highway (TR. NOTE: linking the capital Bucharest to the Black Sea Coast; it was recently inaugurated for part of its mileage) is being inaugurated mileage upon mileage like in a striptease show, on the eve of each round of elections. One new bridge over River Danube is opened for traffic and the promise for another bridge is made at the same time.
The political left managed to loose the left-leaning local elections, while the political right might be finally saved with help from the Securitate, revamped as a European institution.
The summer is good; the harvest will be good because of the floods. All is well. Only that a persistent murmur does not allow us to enjoy the idyllic view: it is not the "Nicolae-like" people; nor are they the miners marching beyond the hills. From Atlantic to Transdniester, no one should worry for the bison; he poses no problems in the worrying and temporary Romanica
The murmur is of "the people" born out of the population; it is tiny, wet, bruised, liked on the forehead by the bison, caressed by the miners, adorned with storkâs bills by suburbanites, given Latin names by the elites, stretching its thin sandwich to bridge the gap between Roman and Ica (TR. NOTE: alludes at the name Roman-ica).
"The people" was born for real, this time, but no one really noticed it.