The Most Beloved Man On Earth

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On the contrary, I had been dominated by a celebratory feeling ever since I had left the house. The city, under the sun of an August morning, seemed to celebrate too. Was it a reflection of my frame of mind? I have always asked myself what a self-murderer feels on such a day, the last one in his life, when he has decided that he will go to bed in the evening never to wake up again. Will he postpone it until a gloomy day comes? I can say now that the day is not important, my feeling that it was a festival coincided only with the city's… There is something autonomous and stronger than nature and places in us – for instance we may die laughing, if death comes upon us in such a state, and conversely, upon your baby's birth, you may feel your heart bleeding to death. My mother, for example, when she was in the throes of birth, even in danger, burst out laughing, as I would not come into the world but with my hand at the temple. Inspired, the doctor pinched my hand angrily and I withdrew it, but soon I took it out again. "What are you doing, dude," barked the doctor with such a voice that my mother stopped screaming for a moment and burst with laughter, "you want to show us you're going to be a general," he went on, "take your hand off the temple," and he pinched me again so hard that I didn't feel like taking it out any more, and I came into the world like all babies do… It would be more interesting to know how the gynecologist knew I was a boy, not a girl, only by seeing the top of my head…It was not a reflection, for I saw on the people's faces, in the street, the same discovery that thrilled them: the city was living something special, a secret joy. Our voices, for instance, seemed to find in it a musical echo, the footsteps would sound as if wrapped in cotton on the sidewalk, the roofs seemed to hover, as if ready to fly, the shop windows seemed to look at you and blink, like giant eyes of the city that was living as a whole, taking possession and melting in its body all the houses, plazas and avenues, along with us, the living, the insects in its body that was breathing calmly under a clear blue sky, in which the sun was shining fresh and lively, cool and cheerful: our city spreads among high, forested hills that bring us fresh air currents in the summer, and quiet snows in the winter, sheltered from the icy north wind from beyond the Carpathian chain. I found the Nicolaus bustling about: they had planned a trip, and were filling the backpack with steaks, cutlery, bottles, a blanket. A lady had just dropped in with a golden, well-baked sponge cake that aroused Matilda's enthusiasm – to be exact, her enthusiasm found a pretext to come out, as she had been enthusiast before that: "Oh, Tasia," she exclaimed in raptures, "what a beautiful cake, my dear, c'est du très très beau cozonac*," she switched to French, then quickly to Russian, krassivaya, davay, and she was soon singing tibyaaaa… (I was to hear this tibya years later, it was like a leitmotif of her life that turned up when least expected, I never had the time to ask her what the hell it meant…). Petrica was lending a hand with a self-important mien that I had suspected the day before, when she had told me that he was not angry with me…The said Tasia, a fat, homemaker-type woman, keeper of many a kitchen secret, retired accompanied by Matilda's repeated "spassiba, Tasia, ochin spassiba." Petrica put on the backpack, Matilda hung a white gabardine wind jacket on her arm, and off we went… I was the only one scowling, for all the celebratory feeling that dominated me. I saw that I was losing Matilda, that she was glad her husband, with whom she was planning trips, was back, and I didn't understand what the heck I was doing there. Cartea romaneasca, 1980

by Marin Preda (1922-1980)