Date: Sat, 30 Dec 2000 01:42:46 -0800
From: ef
Subject: sick


i am getting sick i think... have to force myself to eat... i dunno why. last night, i broke down crying. then i went back to my hotel room and slept. for 15 hours. now i can't eat again.

this is what happened yesterday:

i was sitting in their room. there was also zsuzsa the mother of the family downstairs and 3 of her children. we were all playing. it's a very odd thing that i, who has never had much to do with children, have become so adept at play-teaching. i had brought the storybook and we had read a few. there was one called, the flea ball. everyone thought that real funny. melinda and mihaly made dinner, stuffed green peppers and salt fish. they had just gotten their foodmoney from the reverend noemi. they had decided not on the usual potatoes and such but on stuffed peppers, as a celebration. it being a holiday. while it was cooking, a woman came to the door. she said she was going to lose her job if they did not pay what they owed at the store. not only melinda but zsuzsa and a few more. the woman had been goodhearted and had given people credit but there was no money to pay.

i could tell melinda was ashamed. she tried to talk to the woman in whispers. but the woman was adamant. she was going to lose her job, she had to show accounts to the owner tomorrow.

well, i could tell the woman was a good person and now desperate. it is hard to find jobs in romania. so i said, excuse me, took her by the arm and went outside, sat on the steps. right away, janoska appeared with a pillow. nono, i said laughing, i don't need that, go inside.

so then me and the woman talked. she said she tries to help as much as possible but what can you do. there are so many people who need. i said, well, i am going to pay this debt for melinda's family so could you continue to give them credit if they really need it for food for the children. sure she said, but then they should not be buying coffee and cigarettes. yeah, i see your point, but you know, coffee is very important to these people, you have to be able to offer visitors some coffee at least. and as for cigarettes, well, they smoke romanian cigarettes which are very cheap. and when you are hungry, if you have no smokes you are that much hungrier. that's what i said to her. the stuff about gypsy culture and the importance of coffee i had read on the net some time ago... and had found it to be so in melinda's family as well. if there was no coffee to offer a guest, everyone ran around to all the neighbours until a teaspoon of instant could be found.

so anyways, i made arrangements with the woman from the store, promised to visit her there too, when in the neighbourhood. then i went back inside.

the dinner started arriving, and then i couldn't eat, i couldn't touch it. i dunno why. it is true that they cook with more grease than i am used to but then again i can eat anything anywhere, always could. except now i can't. i keep thinking that someone more hungry should eat this, not me.

then zsuzsa said, do you think you could pay for a few loaves of bread for us, we have no food. i said, i can't. there isn't enough, i said, zsuzsa, i said, please understand, i don't have enough. she got embarrassed and ran downstairs.

so then i burst out crying. everyone came running. she is crying, zsoka is crying, they said. grandfather came and stroked my head. i wanted to say, grandfather, my heart hurts, sing me a few songs. but i didnt.

zsuzsa came running back too. she started to cry. then melinda started to cry. so then we were all having a good cry alltogether.

oh no, someone said, now janoska is crying too. i said, come here, janoska. he climbed in my lap and sniffled in my ear, don't leave, please don't leave. it's okay, i said. i'm okay now, janoska.

zsuzsa went home again. so then mihaly said, don't worry about zsuzsa, we'll share what we have. he then sent one of the kids downstairs with a big bowl of stuffed peppers.