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Review :: Environment
Rosia Montana: The war for gold is killing people
13 Jul 2004
Modified: 10:05:25 AM
The Mining Company S.C. „R.M. Gold Corporation” offered the amount of 840,000,000 lei to the family physician Florin Georgescu, so that he would leave Rosia Montana . For a year, the largest commune in Romania was left without medical assistance. Many of the local inhabitants claim that doctor Georgescu was paid to leave, because he held certain medical files of patients who had died, or became gravely ill, because of the powerful psychological pressures they were subjected to, for several years, by the mercenaries of the Company.
The war for gold has begun to kill people.
Original article at: http://www.formula-as.ro/articol.php?nrrev=617&&codcap=144&&idart=5287
Translation courtesy of T.L.
Complementary infos: http://www.rosiamontana.org
The grinding of the mountain
“They started drilling in Rosia Montana!...” It is Friday, April 22nd , and the news are spreading quickly, by word of mouth. From everywhere, from their courtyards, people are listening to the grinding of the mountain.
Where can this be? They hear it constantly, day and night, its whizzing noise is measuring time, it is measuring their lives, they almost breathe in the same rhythm as the auger. Some locals confess that they are using earplugs during the night, to avoid hearing the noise. To no avail! It is a whizzing noise of an extraordinary intensity, a painful, elongated penetration. People are suffering. The mountains of the “Motzi ” are being riddled, are being hurt, and they, the people, are suffering together with the mountains.
It is completely forbidden to execute drilling in Rosia Montana. According to the new Law of the Environment,
such drillings cannot be undertaken, without prior consultations with the local population, and the majority of the locals have said “NO”. A week before we arrived here, the “Goldists ” received a written notification from the Ministry of the Environment , which stated that the environmental permit for drilling was denied, for at least a month. Only a few days after this decision, the Company started drilling again. To Canadian investors, Romanian laws are worthless.
When they demanded explanations, the locals were told that proceedings were being initiated, and that the approval of the environmental permit was “pending”. “Well, but so far, you don’t have a permit. This is illegal!”, the locals protested. The “Goldists” pat them on their shoulders, smiling as they always do, and said: “Don’t you worry! It is pending…”
The first who discovered the drilling auger is Francisc David, descendant of an old family of goldsmiths. At noon, he usually watches his mountain from the front yard of his secular home. The “Carnic”, the mountain full of gold, the mountain where his ancestors owned mine openings and stone-crushing machines, properties which belong to him lawfully, for which he has ownership papers. And yet, he cannot touch those properties, because of the newcomers who claimed ownership on the riches of the “Apuseni” Mountains.
A day before yesterday, at noon, he was standing against a blossomed apple tree, letting the spring sun caress his beautiful face, the face of a poet of the remoteness, who was minding his own thoughts. All of a sudden… he saw it! His sharp sight of experienced miner was right: a red, narrow stripe, on the rock wall, right above the spire of the Catholic Church. Francisc David stood up, his palm above his eyes: yes, they were digging in his mines! And right at that moment, he saw with the corner of his eye the two robust fellows on the hill behind the house, how they held their mobile phones to their ears. By the time he ran to the house, to spread the news, the drilling auger had stopped. Only then did he realize that those two sun-tanned fellows who were pretending to be sunbathing for the past few days, up on the meadow, were assigned to supervise him. Now, I see them also. Two sturdy men with sunglasses, wearing coloured T-shirts – one of them is talking again on his mobile phone. “They are afraid of me, because they know I am the owner up there! You’ll see, now that they noticed you interviewing me with the voice recorder, in less than ten minutes, they’ll stop the drilling. Just wait and see…” Indeed, in precisely five minutes, the gnashing noise of drilled rock ended and the village breathed easily.
Francisc David, together with other locals from Rosia whom I would later speak to, believes that this drilling is the most terrible “tool for psychological murder” that ever existed. “They keep pestering us constantly, non-stop, including Saturdays and Sundays. Why are these people drilling, over and over, in the same places? I am an experienced miner, I know. I also spoke with specialists – these guys do not drill to gather samples, because prospecting is done after an organized net, with holes far apart. Some say that, in fact, they are extracting gold. They have our old maps, received for free from Gruber, the former director at the State Mine, and they drill exactly where they know that the large gold vein deposits are located. A friend, the topographer Eugen Cornea, saw up on the platform, three drillings within five metres – this is impossible! When he came back, accompanied by us, the holes had been covered by an excavator.“ Anyways, regardless whether they are extracting gold or not, they know that we are losing our minds if we keep hearing, day and night, these augers drilling with lawlessness in our ancient mountains. They keep hammering! Always! Sometimes, I think they are using them just so that we understand that they are busy, to keep us worried and upset, to show us they are here, beside us, and in the end, they will finish us all. I think we, from Rosia Montana, will be hearing the drilling augers after we pass on, into the other world, into the grave…”
The killing words
Francisc David tells me directly, without fear, that two cousins of him died because of the pressures made by the Company. “The first was a cousin from my father’s side, David Ioan, who lived down, at the mine, at Razna. He was a teacher, here in Rosia, and an intelligent and active person, always full of life. This, until the “Gold Company ” came. He owned, from his ancestors, many properties, just as I do, and all his life, he dreamed of getting back his stone-crushing machines and his mine entrances. He wanted that, more than anything in this world. When the ‘Goldists’ came, they started pestering him: to sell his home, because he would not get anything back. They kept postponing answering to his demands. He got upset. As days went by, he became more and more uncommunicative, more grumpy, he was looking at people, afraid, while walking on the street.”
He kept coming to me, crying and asking: “Francisc, what is going on with me?” He did not believe that properties would be restituted.
We used to chat often, and I kept telling him: “Ioane, why don’t you believe it, since you own the properties, once it’s written ‘PRO-PER-TY’ on the paper? Isn’t it enough how much our ancestors suffered, when communists took them in ’48 ? Hasn’t the Judge restituted them once? Now, Law 10 of 2000 states clearly that those properties would be restituted! Law is law! Don’t you remember the times, when we used to chase away the mine thieves, using our property documents and the police? Don’t you remember? This is what we’ll do with these thieves…” He became more and more sad. He kept saying that in Romania, law is not law anymore, but terrorist communism. He was intelligent. He kept agonizing like that, until his heart failed, and he died during his second open-heart surgery.
The second cousin was Ciura Ion, again a cousin from my father. He used to live here, up the street, towards Tarina. He was 59 years old; he was kind to everybody, helpful, a man of rare intelligence. He used to write poems, mostly about his village. They saw him as delicate and frail, and they kept terrorizing him. They used to bring publications of the Company to his door, they kept coming and telling him to sell, sell, sell… Everyday, they used to stand in front of his door, shouting: “Don’t you see that all your neighbours have left? What, are you planning to stay here alone? You will remain alone here, and you won’t be able to sell your house for a good price!” They kept visiting his house, constantly. I used to visit him, every evening, since I knew who kept coming there to see him. I kept telling them: “Folks, leave this man alone, God is watching you from above!” While I was there with him, they left him alone, and after I had left, they would come again. Until they sent him into the grave. I never believed that spoken words could kill. They killed him with words, with their pressures. He kept saying: “Francisc, I cannot resist any longer…“ He died of a heart attack, one night last winter. It was four in the morning, big snow; somebody came to me, so I got dressed and went there. I could see light through the window, and someone said he had heard somebody there […]. They had entered his house that night, after he died, and they set all his writings on fire. He was lying dead on the bed, and they were searching through his things. When I entered the house, the drawers were wide open, and papers were still burning in the fireplace. So that they would destroy all evidence! Through the Will of God, a single sheet of paper was saved. I noticed it in the house, on the floor. It was the last poem of Ciura Ioan, written before his death.
Francisc David pulls out of the stack of useless, old property documents, a sheet of paper kept with pious feelings, which he slowly unfolds, in front of his blue eyes.
The poem is called “Here”. Below are a few verses (…):
“Here, graves are being bought / And billions flow in streams / Over homes and holy places / Over all, the land below us / Those who buy graves / Might be upset by us / But we want them to know / We will not leave from here / Here and not somewhere else / We will build a new destiny / And we shall fight until death / Because this is where we want to live.”
With a device in her chest
Francisc David hasn’t climbed the road to the mountain of Tarina since then. He didn’t go to the Requiem religious ceremony either, because he didn’t want to meet the neighbours who “killed with words” his cousin Ciura, the poet. He doesn’t want to accompany me now, either. I climb instead of him, as if I wished to bring him news, from a few houses away. Not much has changed in Rosia since the last time I was here. Perhaps more strain and more silence, less peasants and more cars – a lot of cars, the kinds of cars that not even the Members of Parliament own, according to Francisc David. A procession of expensive automobiles that roll slowly, all day long, playing loud music from behind lowered side windows, driven by young men wearing gold jewellery, who are shouting towards the locals’ houses. You see them on the highest roads, climbing narrow streets, ignoring the potholes and the rocks, just to be seen, oblivious to the potential damage to their cars. All they can do is drive, all day long.
The small white house of the poet Ciura has been sold shortly after his death, and it will soon bear the blue plate, or “the cursed plate”, with the inscription “Property of RMGC ”. This is the sign of an epidemic.
Across the road, there is another yellow house, looking like in the fairy tales. Somebody still lives there, but now, nobody would open the door, no matter how long you knock. The home is inhabited by Maria Petruta, a 56 years old opponent of “the Gold”, and who has been managing her entire life, the food store of the former Cooperative in the Rosia market. The day the Company closed her store, at the moment when she exited its door for the last time, the woman suffered a stroke. Since then, her entire body is paralized, and she cannot speak. Her mother visits her from time to time, to change her bed sheets and to feed her. Maria Petrutia will never again be an undesired witness for the Company…
Up close to the end of the unpaved street, there are a few large houses, close to each other; among them, two very tall twin houses that can be seen from anywhere in Rosia Montana. Has the Company been able to purchase them, as well? Forester Stefan Cosma is sitting at a table in the empty courtyard, facing his wife. It is evening, and, from deep within the ground, you can hear again the quick, obsessive pulsations of the drilling auger. The pair looks at each other, quietly. Between them lie on the table a Bible and a jug of fresh milk. I sit down and share with them the secret - the place where the tyrannical device is located on the mountain. “A, so there it was…” Then, I ask them about the news in Rosia. “Can’t you hear this?” – the man says, pointing towards the mountains. “This cursed drilling device is the news here.” The woman is still quiet, staring at the ground. Her face is darkened, with little red veins crossing her prominent cheekbones, and her eyes are filled by an eternal sadeness. I find out that she is ill, very ill, and that her suffering comes from “the stress with the Company”.
I can hardly persuade her to talk – only when I mention her two sons, Razvan and Ciprian, who now work at the State Mine, and who are constantly being threatened with lay-offs in case their parents wouldn’t sell their properties. Her dear sons, who worked hard to build themselves the twin houses, but who cannot complete them and move there, because today, in Rosia Montana, building doesn’t make sense.
“Until the year of 1999”, says Rodica Cosma, “when the Company attacked me, I never knew sickness. I was never interned in a hospital, I never suffered. I was living well here, I used to get along well with everybody, I walked to the market, I met people, and we used to greet each other. We worked hard and we built these old houses, then we built for our children too, since they wanted to settle here, to be close to us, to be all together in the family.” They had the desire to own their houses… We sold the animals we had, and when they had the necessary money, they told me: “Mom, we will never touch this money, not even for a juice…” That is what they did. Many times, they passed by the market, without indulging to buy fruits.
They worked by themselves, without help, and when they raised their houses, the people from “Gold” came, and everything was finished.”
Only now do I notice, that the two tall houses with balconies, terraces and many rooms, are unfinished – through the windows, I can see scaffolding and grey debris. “The houses have been like this for four years, no work has been done since”, says her husband from across the table. “Should we sell them, they would pay us very little. Our sons stay in Abrud, and here is “industrial zone”, you are not alowed to build anything at all. Even if you hammer a nail, you think it’s all for nothing.” A neighbour by the name of Barla enters the courtyard. He asks: “Did you plant the potatoes?” The pair suddenly begins to cry. First I look at them, and then I understand. Of course they planted the potatoes, but they do not know if they will ever get to pick them. They both remember that there were locals who had left in August, and they were never allowed to enter their gardens later, to pick the crop. “This is why I became ill”, the woman bursts in tears.
I worked at the town hall, I saw everything that’s going on there, and I witnessed all the departures from Rosia Montana! I was working at “Revenues and Taxes” – in order to sell your home, one has to obtain proof from the town hall that all taxes have been paid. I used to talk to various people. Some would say: “We are not leaving! Why should we leave? Where should we go?…” And later, you would see them coming to pay their taxes, and off they went. It is not easy to witness all this. I could not sleep at night, I felt I was choking, I was only thinking about how they would blast our houses away. You should know that, for a person who has been living here during his entire life, the thought that a neighbour is leaving, or that himself could be forced to leave, is difficult. This is why I became ill. When, in 1999, the Doctor from Cimpeni told me that I am gravely ill and must be interned in a large hospital, I thought everything was over. They discovered there that a heart valve is not working anymore, at all, and that the sickness has extended down, towards the lungs. I have undergone two surgeries, and I am living with a device in my chest. The Doctor asked me then: “Have you had, recently, any serious trouble?” What should I say? That these troubles are sending us all into the grave?”
Victims and traitors
Next day is Saturday, April 23rd. I start from the bottom of the settlement, from Gura Baii, and I climb up to Taul Brazilor, close to Varful Ghergheleu, knocking on doors, listening to the stories of other locals from Rosia Montana.
Early morning, somewhere close to the Gallery of the Holy Cross of Maria Tereza, in a house with one metre thick walls and a broad verandah, I chat with an old lady, Zamfira Delian. She is living together with her son, Petru, whose lungs are gravely ill, and everyday, both have to face the handsome house at the end of their courtyard. The house marked with the blue plate, is where Selagea Eugenia lived – the best neighbour in the world. This woman died six months after leaving Rosia Montana.
While she is speaking, Zamfira Delian keeps looking at the beautiful building, its second floor surrounded by a red girdle. “She died because of the stress and worries. She was a young woman, not like me. She didn’t want to leave, but her children kept pressing her to sell, and to move at their place, in Cugir. They needed money, because the local factory is also bankrupt, so they kept visiting her: ‘Mom, come to our place. Come!’ They didn’t understand her. Before she died, she came twice to Rosia. I saw her then - she was disappointed, and very upset. Once she went to the cemetery, to visit her mother’s grave. She laid her head on the grave, crying and asking her for forgiveness. Then she came back and, a few days later, in the block of apartments, she closed her eyes and died.” Zamfira’s son is holding his palms against his chest; he can hardly speak because of the cough convulsions, and his words sound whining, tormented, coming out of a profound pain: “Do you know why Selagea Eugenia died? Because she couldn’t live in a different environment. I am sick. I am alive now, only because I am staying here. If you take me away from these mountains for a few weeks, I will die.” Wherever we would go, we could not adapt to a different lifestyle. We would die! Of the people who left from here, many have died. There we have no neighbours, nobody. Everybody from Rosia Montana, who leaves this settlement, is seen elsewhere as a traitor. You know what they are saying? “The highlanders came with money, to buy our lands!” That’s what they say. Many locals from Rosia come back, and cannot believe the houses do not belong to them anymore. They stand by their houses, and they cry. Many feel ashamed. One of them, Jurj Remus, who now lives in Abrud, gathered all his neighbours in front of his house bearing the blue plate, and told them: “Nobody should ever do what I did, as long as you live!” The old lady, Zamfira, sighs and tells me that not even for a few billions , “not for all the money in the world”, would she consider leaving this place.
The neighbour across the street, Nicolae Vadan, called “nea’ Lae”, takes me through the barns and the stables with cattle, through every room of his big, two-storey house, and after opening every gate and every door, says “Here, have a look…” and keeps bursting into tears. His face is red, and he cannot get rid of the angry grimace […] – I feel sorry for him. He has been suffering for three years, of stress-related diabetes, which he says he developed due to the pressures from the Company. Until then, he was never ill. Here is his testimony: “They are always here. They enter my courtyard, they enter my house. Yesterday, a kid from ‘Gold’ came, asking for permission to survey the land. I got angry with them, I told them to get out, but they keep coming. ‘May we talk?…’ They always begin that way. I tell them: ‘Not a chance!’, but they keep coming.Again and again! They keep stirring you up, they say that one neighbour doesn’t like me, that another one doesn’t greet me on the street. They are very insolent!’”
Our daughter is living with us, and because we didn’t want to sell our house, they laid her off, from the mining operations. What can I tell you, I go to bed, and I wake up, with these thoughts. When you think you’re happy, then these devils come to our homes. Nicolae Vadan is crying, and his wife says that until four years ago, he never cried – he used to be a strong man, and nothing was against him.
‘Nea’ Lae’ stands up, takes me by the arm and almost forces me to walk to the fence, to see the neighbouring house. An old little home, on the side of the hill, at the end of a […] courtyard.
“Look! They paid one billion, two hundred for this house . Then, they shoot films and broadcast them, to demonstrate how generous they are. Stan Ana, the woman who lived here, moved to Barabanti, close to Alba, and couldn’t live there. Now she wants to move back, closer, at least as far as Abrud. But, as derelict as the old house was, they damaged it after the woman left. They shattered windows, they created disorder in the courtyard, they threw garbage in there – they do that everywhere. You know why they do that? To make others leave, too. So that everything is left looking sinister, so that you are disgusted and horrified when you walk on the street. When you have no neighbours and you see around you all these deserted courtyards, full of garbage, your body is shaking, and you feel like leaving. They are well trained, they know how to play us on their fingers. They are surrounding us. When they see that somebody holds his ground and doesn’t want to sell, they try to corrupt, slowly, those who surround him, and to leave us alone, among ruins.”
Dead nature, with people from Rosia Montana
By noon, the drilling auger is working again. I almost got used to its “beats”. I am getting deeper and deeper into the heart of Rosia. I meet Aurelia Tomus, a woman with a perplexed face, always astonished, always puzzled, who cannot comprehend why the village degraded so much - the village where they all lived, until recently, “like in a park, like in Heaven”. Why parents and children and brothers do not get along anymore, why her neighbour keeps calling her crazy every day, because she doesn’t want to sell her house and land.
Upper and closer to the street, in front of a long and very white two-storey house, is sitting Nicolae Badau , Professor of History. He used to find stones with inscriptions from Roman times, every step of the way. He even found them between the furrows of his cultivated land, while ploughing it. Tens of years ago, he left to Cluj, where he had been assigned to teach. But, he cannot live without his white house from Rosia Montana. Here, I witness another surprise: “Why isn’t somebody trying to convince these people, that they have to claim moral damages? Alienation, and the fact that they stress you out like this, is a serious moral damage. People are frail, people don’t know. I told them so many times: ‘You should know that in EU , moral damages often exceed material damages! Why don’t you understand that if we join the EU, the prices of your homes would rise by almost ten times? ’ ”
Here I am, at last, in the great market. The superb market, now in ruins, bordered by houses, which are considered historical monuments, whose windows are now filled by weeds grown on the frames. But who doesn’t know the market of Rosia Montana, filmed for so many times? The locals are standing still under the spring sun, close to the walls of the homes. Most of them are looking at the sky. From the air, from the bowels of Earth, the auger is drilling again, its beat synchronized with people’s thoughts, with the blinking of their eyelids. Nobody enters anywhere, nobody exits from anywhere, and nobody talks to anybody. During the two days of my stay here, I haven’t heard “Good day” or “We praise the Lord”.
It is like a huge dumbshow, with speechless peasants in black clothes, their shadows against shrivelled and secular walls. Somebody makes a sign with two fingers, asking for a cigarette. Someone else nods his head in confirmation. The first goes and helps himself, lighting the cigarette. Then he goes back and leans against his wall, staring again at the same sky.
Aside from their houses in the mountains, these people have nowhere to go. The bowling room is closed, the beautiful summer garden is closed, and the beautiful vacation homes are closed, next to the deep blue lakes, on the top of the mountains. People do not meet other people anymore.
The stores where children would ask for candy and a beer on credit for daddy, are closed. Closed are also the buffets that hosted parties. The innkeepers and merchants have “sold their business”, just like Doctor Georgescu (despite the fact that he did not have a private practice, and that he was being remunerated and had been assigned there by the Ministry of Health). Boia Valentin closed his inn, Ludmila Lupu sold her grocery store business for eight hundred million . The mair Virgil Narita, working for “the Goldists”, sold his business too, rumours say for nine billion . However, his store downtown, at “Gura Baii”, is still open. The reason? They only payed him half the money. The only store open in the Rosia market belongs to a very young man, by the name of Jurca Sorin, and is better stocked than all the small shops in the Capital. By not selling his store, this young man is, in fact, helping the people from Rosia to stay. One time, a neighbour from here, from the market, said: “Should there not be bread, I would leave. Why should I walk in winter to Cimpeni, to buy bread? ” Then, the young man told the locals: “As long as I live, there will be bread here.” Sorin Jurca is refusing to talk to me. Rumours say that he is also under pressure, from Financial Control, and who knows what else? People say his mother told him: “Instead of seeing the car coming at my gate and loading my things, I would rather die!” And that is what she did: she died from the pressures of the Company.
Whoever leaves, pays with money for his own death
Up on the winding streets below Taul Brazilor, a thirty-year old man lives; his hair is completely white. He watches the toes of his shoes, walking aimlessly as he keeps turning in front of his tall house, and he keeps postponing to enter the house.
He thinks a lot while he walks.It is easy to begin a conversation with him, and it seems like he is expecting guests - by inviting them into his house, he would have an oportunity to enter his house again. This young man with grey-white hair has a beautiful wife and three little kids, who are being threatened that soon, they would not have a school anymore. He also has a father, who lives in a tiny house in his courtyard. His father has paralised because of his anger caused by the destruction of the settlement. He, Botar Valentin, is caught in the middle. He loves his village, he says. "Otherwise, I would not have laboured so many years carrying large and heavy stones on my back, to build this house." He loves his home, he wouldn't sell it and he wouldn't leave. His wife is also very attached to Rosia, but she told him: "When the school will close, I will take the kids and leave. I won't stay here with you for a moment." And he knows that, should he leave the village together with his wife, his father would die. In the house, the three kids are playing "hide and seek" through the many rooms. Not long ago, the older son brought news from the village: "The teacher told us we should find another school, in another village, before autumn comes." And since then, the wife of the young man with grey-white hair keeps thinking about leaving. She is now cooking - it is late Saturday, and three guests from Rosia arrive. With them as only witnesses, the young man - Valentin - dares to share his thoughts: "My father is a patriot. I have to admit he is a greater patriot than I am…" He keeps telling us passionately about his paralised father, who read "three libraries' worth of historical books" about Iancu, Horea and all the other national heroes, who died long time ago.
The neighbours tell other stories, about more recent heroes, who died in the war for the "Apuseni" Mountains. Stories about Dragoi Floarea, who had moved to Berghint, and who was being kept locked at home by her children, so that she wouldn't escape and return back to Rosia Montana. She managed to escape three times, and went back to the house in the mountains, sold by her children. Six months later, when they installed iron latices on her windows, the woman decided to die. Stories about Botar Olga, who used to come from Abrud and slept in the pigs' barn of her former house, which had been sold by her son. She used to get out of the barn early in the morning, wash herself and then sit on the little bench in front of the locked house, greeting passers-by, behaving as if nothing had happened, pretending she still owned the place. Suddenly, one of the guests interrupts these stories with a shocking statement: "Those who are leaving Rosia Montana, will be buying their own death, with money!" Valentin, the host, uses the opportunity to take me to the little house in his courtyard, where his father, Botar Ioan, lives. A sixty-six year old man lies on a green bed in a narrow room, full of religious icons, his eyes always wide open. He talks with great difficulty, and he only answers when his son shouts loudly into his ear. On Christmas Day, he came home feeling sad, he ate a little and went to rest. He woke up with great pains and was never able to rise from the bed again. The whole left side of his body, from head to toes, is paralysed. "I was shocked. I didn’t like what I had heard in the village, about this thing with the 'Gold'. They are rascals and cowards! I was never ill. I was in despair, that the village would be destroyed. Rosia must live on for centuries to come!" He stares at me with his eyes wide open, that never blink. He hardly manages to speak out words, between long breaks. Meanwhile, his son tells me that this man who is paralysed, used to be one of the best dancers around here, that he would "dance on the table full with glasses", that he used to scour everyday the beautiful mountains surrounding us.
When I ask for permission to take his picture, Ioan Botar says he wants to appear "dressed up". His son sighs, as he knows the story. With great difficulty, he raises his father and it takes almost half an hour to dress him in military attire, kept in impeccable condition. The old man keeps shouting, "there has to be an authority here in Rosia!" Then, his son lays a sword on his lap. An old sword, from the times of Iancu , which he received as a gift from one of his old neighbours, and which he kept cleaning and preserving for decades. On his head, the son lays a German helmet, "model 36". It belonged to an old friend, who had died in the war. I watch him as I compose the picture, standing dressed and trying to look dignified in the old chair - the last defender of Rosia! I take the picture, my tears falling from my eyes.
Mercy for Adela
Final destination: Szekey Adela. As the last descendant of old family of goldsmiths, she is the only one, perhaps, who inspires mercy, both from the locals who chose to stay, and from the "Goldists". A picture taken last year by French journalists, in the cemetery of the Church, on the morning of the Holy Resurrection, was unanimously called "The Emblem of Suffering in Rosia Montana". She is also the only one old lady, who has kind words for the people of the Company. Following a mess in ownership documents, her house ended up in her daughter's name. Tens of years later, the daughter sold the house, without asking for her mother's permission. In dispair, realising that nothing can be changed now, the old lady went to see Director Dumitrascu and implored him on her knees, crying, to allow her to stay a little longer. Only for a few months. He could not resist and allowed her to stay for six months, and he even agreed to not install the blue plate on the house. She had to submit a written request, and obtain a medical certificate from Rosia Montana. He finally allowed her to stay. This gesture was seen as a wonder, by the rest of the villagers, who had been evicted immediately after receiving their money. However, the deadline for departure is approaching soon, even for Adela Szekey. Every day, she stays in the little basement room, sewing local folklore costumes, and crying. She is sewing costumes for free, for all the villagers who chose to stay. She has open wounds around the eyes, from so much crying. The salt from the tears left scars on the skin of her eyelids and temples. After scratching her skin, the scars extended towards her forehead and doctors had to operate her with a skin transplant to her face.
What a difference between now and the picture from a year ago, in the morning of the Holy Resurrection.
Eighty-four years of age, this woman is still sane, with a clear mind, she hears and speaks well, but her face wears a stigma and her voice is tragic. No smiles on her face, her voice sounds apocalyptic. "I destroyed myself with these thoughts about having to leave! Within a year, I became really old. People were surprised, because I used to be healthy and cheerful and hardworking, but now I feel insane and afraid. I am terrified of leaving. I am afraid, my days are numbered. I would not have left at all. First, I screamed in pain: I'd rather set the house on fire, and burn inside it! Nobody knows how much I suffered to build this house! Afterwards, after many requests from my children, after many quarrels between my daughter and her husband, I started to think about it. I told my children I would give them the house, which is everything I own. All my life, I worked to feed my two children and to build this 'nest', together with my husband. You'll get the house, just be patient, until I die. Please, let me stay here until I die! " The children wouldn’t agree, because they needed money. They finally sold the house, without her approval. Says Adela: "I would have to leave. But even if I should die in a foreign place, I wish to be buried here, beside my husband, beside my church. Here, where I belong…"
For almost six months, Adela Szekey did not even go to see the little house her daughter bought at Ocna Mures. She wasn't interested. They told her the house is close to their large, renovated home […], but she wasn't interested. She stood here, in a house that doesn't belong to her anymore. Every Sunday, she walks nine kilometres to the church, she talks to her old friends, takes a walk in the mountains, on the winding, narrow, unpaved streets, through the market, minding her own affairs. We enter the beautiful home she no longer owns. She shows me pictures of her daughter, Adela, from times long ago, when she was childish and suave, together with her beloved husband, together with her parents, the goldsmiths. Portraits in black-and-white, of a descent of locals from Rosia, who are perishing. Against the noisy background of the drilling auger, the old lady accompanies me to the gate. She tells me that, no matter what, she won't give up. She tells me that, with her daughter's approval, she will go again to the "Goldists" in two weeks' time, she will obtain another medical certificate, and, if need be, she will implore them again, on her knees, to spare her. She will not give up, that's for sure. She will never give up.
(The pictures belong to the author)
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