Tamas Paczai, Dream about Motherland, from PRIVATE 51 – Global Report 2, pp. 54-57[S]tories from today’s Romania: the preserved ancient lifestyle of Transylvania and the haunting consequences of the village destruction policies of the 60s and 70s. The title suggests the photographer’s connection with Transylvania who, despite being born there, moved with his family to Hungary following the political changes of 1989. Returning to the mountains and villages of Transylvania after 20 years, he records the stories he finds guided by the memories of his childhood.
As a young boy of six, hiking with your parents, you marvel at the world among beech trees, pick the flowers by the horses and go in your tiny boots giggling from village to village. You chat with wee old ladies and men with the seriousness of a six year old, they listen and laugh. If you are not teasing the cat, you are stumbling with the scythe under the watchful eyes of your father or you are standing in the snow up to your waist and you want to cry not yet knowing you have no reason to.
In twenty years you walk alone under the beech trees, but you don’t marvel any more. You would pick the flowers but don’t dare. You run up the steep mountain looking for signals. You listen to the old ladies and men, now it is them who tell the stories. They smile, but they don’t laugh. Their stories are stories from your childhood, memories of their times. You see the man with the scythe, but you only take his picture. In the evening you are in the pub, drowned in beer and dreaming in bitterness. Wake up, tomorrow you need to continue the last twenty years.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand how the countryside that was flourishing for centuries can disappear in a couple of decades. Girls do not return to be the old ladies, lads are busy with the lawn mower in the suburbs. They have good signal there, no need to climb mountains for it.
“A tiny bit. Just a little bit. All it takes. It helps to forget. The sorrow and the bitterness. A shot everyday is relaxing.” Told me a wee old man with watery eyes.
“And then another one” smiled wryly.