Monday, June 6, 2011
Snapshots: Alina, Bianca, and Razvan
The last of my mini portraits are of "Alina," one of my students, "Bianca," a sales person at a local magazine (convenience/general store), and "Razvan," the foster dad at the Roma Boys Home. Alina is a pretty seventh grader who has the quiet grace and kindness of one much older. She seems "tuned in" to me and makes thoughtful gestures that sometimes catch me off guard. Mostly, she likes to accompany me on my walk home--or at least to HER home, which is about half way to mine. She will approach me after class and say "walk with you"? or at times--on days I don't teach her, she'll simply be waiting a little way down the path. Sometimes her little brother, also a student, will be with her. I'm never sure if she's trying to help me with my Romanian or practice her English. We do both. I will ask "Cum se spune...?" (how do you say?) about many items or phrases. She will ask me questions in English or just make an accurate statement at times that surprises me. She's one of those students you always feel deserves more. I admit there are days when I'm tired and feel I could use a quiet walk home, but I find that I always feel better after walking with Alina, waving her on at the corner where we part, feeling a little unspoken benediction in the "la revedere."****I met Bianca the second day I was in the village, making my rounds to the magazines, introducing myself like a good little PCV. She seemed bemused and I immediately liked her bright, merry eyes and big smile. I know virtually nothing about this woman, but she has cheerfully helped me buy what I need two or three times a week. When I'm in the tiny store and others are there, she always introduces me if they seem curious--much smiling and nodding, and she gives me credit for learning Romanian "repede" (quickly--such a joke) when I ask properly for items, seeming to take a small measure of credit. We've had a few laughs, too. When I was doing some Christmas baking, I realized in the store that I was nearly out of baking powder and couldn't remember "praf de copt." Lee was with me and we both did numerous impressions of dough rising. Bianca thought we were hilarious (well, we were) and finally figured it out after pulling out nearly every little packet under the counter. She knows very well my taste in vin alb (white wine), the particular kind I like requiring her to fetch a little rickety ladder to reach it from the top shelf, and as she's reaching high (she's short) above her head, I and any number of other patrons are yelling for her to reach left or right to fetch it. I think what I really like about Bianca is her look of friendly expectancy, eyebrows raised and half-smile--as though my entering her little world could cause merriment at any moment. I live to serve.*****Razvan is the dad at the foster home for Roma Boys in my village. He's in his thirties, a family man whose wife and two little boys live with him at the American-built home. He is a calm and patient fellow, tall, husky, bespectacled, and earnest. He loves to sing--a tenor--and studied voice for awhile. He supervises the boys with a firm hand, but loves to present them with little surprises--a puppy and two canaries in the past few months. The birds get to fly free among the big potted plants in the living room. I don't know how the housekeeper handles this, but no one seems concerned, and the boys and birds are happy. Razvan and his family are Baptist; I was invited to the "blessing" of their infant son in April. He is simply a good, kind man--perfect for the job he's doing--and when he says, "May God bless you" as I leave the car, I feel God is probably listening.