Under the Iron Curtain

by Andrada Costoiu

Photo by Daria Sannikova on Pexels.com

Hello everyone!
Remember I have told you I am writing a novel, about the life of my father and my experience as a child, living in communist Romania?
I am in contact with a few publishers, but the novel is not in print yet.
So, I decided to treat you with an excerpt……

John is my father and here is a short excerpt in which he recalls some of his young years….


John remembered the time during World War II. War meant little to children, and most of them didn’t even know or understand what was happening. As a small child, John did the same as the other kids around him. He continued to play hide and seek, hopscotch and all kinds of childhood games. He did not know who the Nazis, the Russians and all the others were. For him these names were faceless. For him, war was when there was no daddy.

But some memories sneak in and they can never be erased. And so were his memories of the Russian invasion and of what came afterwards. At that time Romania was under Nazi occupation and Hitler’s army was pillaging the country of its resources. The Nazis took control of oil wheels and they were helping themselves to the country’s food crops, causing food shortages for native Romanians. Then the Russian army invaded. The Russian soldiers were looting and burning homes, they were killing the men and raping the women. 

The day when they arrived in their village his father’s brother was at their house. One of his legs was permanently injured in a hunting trip and that is why he was not on the front like his dad. He jumped off the back fence of the house with a gun, trying to organize other villagers against the invaders. Left on their own, John’s mom took him and his brother down in the cellar, where they had tens of wooden barrels. Some barrels were full of wine and others with tuica, a Romanian traditional drink made out of plums. There were some empty barrels too. They hid in one until the Red Army soldiers were gone. He remembered clutching on his beloved stuffed bunny. He also remembered the screams and the thunderstorm of machine guns outside. When they came out, John saw their dog crying. He was sitting next to the corpse of his father’s brother. The dog had an old man’s eyes.

But what John recalled the most was the time afterwards. 

His father’s family was a remnant of the old nobility that once owned most of the land in the Kingdom of Romania.  They still owned a lot of it, in fact in the present day, the village was seating on part of their land. Their household was like a small community, and everybody working there felt like extended family. There were few people working in the stables, others helped raise their farm animals, and others worked in the house. But WWII brought a lot of changes. Most of these workers were men, got drafted and they were gone. The house felt empty. John was grateful that the cook, a chubby woman that was giving him cookies in secret, did not leave. Her enthusiasm when making dough was utterly genuine and John had a lot of fun squandering flour and pretending to help. He also liked the carriage driver, an older man who during the war became some sort of domestic worker that helped with everything. These two people, his mom and brother, made him feel safe while the war was raging.

When the war was over, his father came back. John saw him from far away, walking on the village’s road in his military uniform. He screamed “Mom! Dad is coming!” and then he ran to him and jumped into his arms. His dad was well, not injured on the outside but after a while, John felt that something was wrong. He did not play with him and his brother anymore and he didn’t hug them like he used to. Instead, he stayed closed in his study room. When John would see the door open, he would go inside to find him absorbed, with dark circles under his eyes, writing on scraps of paper. John felt like someone hijacked his dad and put instead an odd soul. Then, from being completely reclusive, his dad started having meetings with his friends behind closed doors. John would still very rarely see him, and when he would come out, it was not as his dad was present. His mind was always preoccupied with something else.”


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.