Orbitor - The Left Wing

excerpt Maria had come to town during the war, leaving her native Tântava, and managed to find a job as apprentice for "Verona" Tailor's Shop, along with her sister Vasilica. The tailor's shop was located behind ARO building, stuck right on the white painted house, with a porch and colourful marquee where the famous music hall actress, Mioara Mironescu, lived. The two 15 and 17 year old young peasants (Vasilica was the elder sister) slept in the same bed, upstairs, tired by the endless hours spent at the sewing machines and dreamed all night about Singer and elegant young gents, clerks wearing white hats and reed canes. They woke up cheek by cheek eager to meet the teeming of the big city. They had the Sundays off so they took long walks in the streets, around the square buildings trimming the boulevards swarming with cars and horse carriages. They were gazing in admiration at firms and glass windows with furniture and jewellery, at the dizzying height of the Phone Company Hall. Oh, they would've loved to work there! – in American movies, all operators met some millionaire. Then there were the stale young men typing letters and papers on Yost typewriters, elegant ladies wearing ox furs around their necks and reminding everyone of the femme fatale pictured in movies. Garlands of shinny bubble lights adorned the entrance of summer restaurants, cinema halls and theatres. The girls were delighted by those wonders which did not belong to their world, but which they did not envy. They would go to see a movie in some cheap cinema in the neighborhood, filled with workers that would spit sunflower shells on the floor and who would whistle every time they saw the actors kiss in the movie. They all were in the habit of laying their big, oily hands on the thigh of the girls sitting next to them. The girls had to change seats may times forced by the "crazy guys'" behaviour, causing the floor imbued with kerosene to crack. They would also go to fun fairs, on the outskirts of the city, crossing rusty railways and walking through chamomile fields only to mingle with the cheerful crowd, to see the childish paintings on the panoramas, the wild animals and the snake swallowers, the spider women, midgets and shameless women showing their white tits covered in beauty spots to anybody… Children wore glossy paper helmets and blew coloured trumpets. The two sisters bought popcorn and candy sugar and took the outmost joy in the motley day, in their youthfulness, in the freshness of the world. What do the peasants get from all these wonders? Nothing. All they know is work, work and work. They had been in big Bucharest for nearly a year and they already despised the peasants, feeling sorry for their sister, Anica, who had gotten married in Tântava and was forced to live there taking care of the cow and pig in the household, of the tomatoes and red peppers. When they lost interest in the fun fair, the girls would take a ride in the merry-go-rounds, shouting with joy, spinning around with the world until they felt they could faint. Sometimes, some boys grabbed their chairs and twisted them, letting them loose only to spin madly, laughing heartily and seeing the world around as a continuous stream of coloured lights. They spent some of the evenings in cheap summer restaurants, full of motley and cheerful people, eating mititei in the faded sound of an accordion brought to them by a gust of wind.
Humanitas, 1996, 2002

by Mircea Cărtărescu (b. 1956)