As Good a World as Any

I lived an enchanted childhood. Yet I was born in communist Bucharest, five years before the 1989 revolution and the fall of what Churchill coined and the Western history books loyally picked up on as “the Iron Curtain”. And indeed it was iron-made, it was a cumbersome mechanism expressly designed to keep some people in, while keeping the rest of the world out, like some sort of crazy sociological experiment that would today qualify superbly as a theme of a reality show.

You know how reality shows are the big thing nowadays. Take 10 people and lock them away for 3 months, set some ground rules, give them weekly portions of food and, first and foremost, make sure you provide them with a tool for laying out their grief against one another. Create an abstract entity, such as a Big Brother, to which each of them could go and whisper everybody else’s secrets or sins. All for a grand prize. How would these people act and react to these stimuli? Would they abide the rules or would they try to bend them? Would they start to feel threatened by each other or would they be able to develop some trace of mutual trust? The answers to these questions represent the uncertainty that makes these shows so popular and intriguing.

If that’s what a reality show is all about, then I and other 22 million people have been the pioneers of the genre, without receiving any prize other than sheer survival and maybe sporadic displays of happiness. No, I’m not trying to be dramatic, nor am I trying to emphasize once again how hard those times were. I’m not in the position to do it, as I was fairly young and my memories of those times, although incredibly vivid, tend to depict a world that didn’t look as a prison back then, but that seemed to me just as legitimate and as “normal” as any other.

I said I lived an enchanted childhood. Indeed I did. If you remember the movie “Truman Show”, starring Jim Carrey, you would understand the enchantment. I was a curious child, always asking questions and analyzing the world around me, but still unequipped to fully understand it. To me, I was living a life as normal and as happy as any American, British or Canadian child or as any of the kids in the countries that my father would show me on my shiny plastic Globe. I was too young to know a lot of things, yet old enough to understand that this was simply…MY world . And to me, back then, that made it as good a world as any…


This was published in the RECOUNTING BUCHAREST contest, which had as main target telling stories about old and new Bucharest. About communist Bucharest, inter-bello Bucharest or the Bucharest that we currently live in.

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