The way to school is full of obstacles

Even if they did not allow him into the second grade at the school in Ialoveni because he could not go, Vasile was still glad, since he now knew that there is a school in which he could learn. For him this school was very important. It was his only chance and he was ready to do whatever was in his power. The dad started to think about how to make him some crutches since he had hands of gold and he could build a house from the foundation to the roof, but he liked woodwork especially.

Dad, Stefan worked several days in making the crutches. Vasile during this time, was always by Dad, asking him different questions. When the crutches were ready, Vasile began to train. He was getting up on them, but with every attempt to walk, he would fall and rise and fall. Dad looked at the struggling boy from the house with his heart small like a flea. It was very hard for him because he could not help the child with anything and he was suffering when he was seeing all of the boy’s attempts were useless. Then Dad, giving in to desperation, told the boy: “If you don’t learn how to walk, I’ll cut your throat.” Vasile looked at him surprised and in his childish naiveté asked: “How? Like the lamb’s?” (since he saw how Dad was cutting the lamb for Easter). And he started crying. Dad got even sadder, because he loved his boy madly and he was feeling bad that he gave in to fury. Indeed, words can kill, if we don’t know when to stop. Dad took the crutches and broke them in two, then he hugged the child and held him, and said, this time with more warmth: “For how long I will be alive, nobody will upset you.” And then, he took the decision to take the boy to the sanatorium in Saharna.

But until he arrived at Saharna, he was supposed to make some tests. Dad was sad, back then the transport was not like today our and the village roads had no concrete. It was the beginning of the 60s, a bit of time passed after the end of the Second World War, the times were hard. In the entire village, there were three cars of the Sovhoz. And if you wanted to  go somewhere you had to talk to the driver in advance in case someone was going to carry some straws, then they would have taken you as well. But, Stefan Movileanu wanted so much for Vasile to learn and to find his purpose in life. For this effort, Vasile has been very grateful to his parents.

Sometimes in the middle of June, on a sunny day, mom went to Lapusna with Vasile for some tests. They left early in the morning in a car who was taking some pigs to a farm. From there, they came back walking, they walked for about three hours, but it wasn’t the first time. Mom was holding him in her arms, but when she would tire, she would let him walk on his fours. Slowly, the village would be left behind, but suddenly the clouds came and blackened the sky and it started raining, with big drops, then more and more, until it became a thunderstorm. The rain conquered all, you couldn’t see the sky or the earth anymore. The rain was so strong that it took them away to the close-by lake.

In those hard times, only the prayers of the mom had any strength. While the rain took them away, they passed a fallen tree and Vasile caught himself on a branch, then his mom did the same. Vasile climbed on a higher branch and he looked on the horizon. Mom took her scarf and started moving it above their heads. Maybe the dogs from a nearby stable smelled them or maybe God heard the mom’s prayers, but two shepherds came to save them. They gave them cheese and milk and gave them shelter. They arrived home late with a carriage which came to the stable for milk.

In the end, they got all the documents and the tests the doctor wanted, they took some apples and pies made by mom and left for Saharna. It was a big sanatorium where people came to rest or for treatment especially war veterans from all the republics of the Soviet Union. The hospital was on the shore of Nistru, in a very beautiful and quiet area, with small alleys full of flowers, with benches for resting, with birds having free concerts.

The place where Vasile lived was across the surgery room and there was a specific smell, a weird smell of drugs and blood, which he never smelled before, and which he remembered for the rest of his life.

They operated on his left leg, and he was lucky it wasn’t completely destroyed since he could still move his toes a bit. After the surgery, he stayed in bed for a long time, and he would only go outside to lay under the shadow of a tree. Then, they put his leg in a cast to straighten the bones. But, unfortunately, they put the cast too high, to his waist. When the gypsum got dry, it went into his skin and gave him inhumane pain. The boy complained to the nurse, but she thought they were just the whims of a child and didn’t take him seriously. The boy was silent and suffering and said nothing to no one because he knew, if he could use the crutches, he could go to school.

He would miss his parents, his brothers, his village, Secareni and the chicks he would play with in the yard when he was by himself because the others were working or the times when he would climb on the pig when she would be brought back by his brother Mihai. But the pain did not pass, just a scream of despair made the doctors see the sheets were bloody and only then they took off the cast. He was just a child, dreaming, was quiet and once in a while, he would cry.

Childhood watercolor painting by Vasile Movileanu

They say those who have walked in darkness carry a great light. He would miss such a wonderful childhood like in this artwork but he painted it in his soul. This is one of his watercolours he will paint in the future.

A lot of interesting things were seen by Vasile that summer at Saharna. Here, for the first time, he saw how the men play chess, a hobby he developed later. Also here he met people with different health problems: one with only one hand, another one with only one leg, one had no legs or hands, but he liked to smoke so the nurse would light his cigarette, and he would tell her jokes to thank her. Vasile made friends with other children and through playing he learned how to use the crutches. He learned to walk by himself, vertically, thus he would see the world better. He was happy and enthusiastic but even then he didn’t get to go to school yet…

Ana Movileanu