The street isn’t home by Annamaria Kozma
At 16 years old, Mioriţa Enache lives for 3 months in a tent on Vulturilor Street from Bucharest. 3 months in which it snowed, it rained, and the sun was absent 1 month from the sky. „We have too many problems, really”, says Mioriţa while she arranges her hair once again uncontrollably. Her black hair reaches almost her buttocks corseted well in a pair of fashionable blue jeans and she is so brilliant, that she seems to leave behind traces of keratin.
The girl of 16 advances slowly on the street, with clumsy and resilient steps, in the way you move sometimes through your house, when nobody sees you. She keeps her left fist grasped and she releases it only from time to time, to leave her right fingers grab a sunflower seed, black and shiny. She cracks it with her teeth, then she spits the crust on the pavement, in front of what, 1 month ago seemed to be her house. Mioriţa Enache is part of those 65 people who were evacuated, on 15th September, from the ex – nationalised building from Vulturilor Street number 50, from Bucharest. Also she is one of the thousands people chased away, since 1995 up to present, from the houses that had been confiscated during the communist regime and were, after the Revolution, claimed by the owners. „In the same way in which there aren’t any precise statistics, there aren’t even univocal reglementations for the situation of the tenants within the law which stipulates the reapportionment of property. In fact, some „evacuated „receive dwellings in exchange, some – no“, says Ionuţ Sîrbu from the non-governmental organisation Romani CRISS. „No matter what, they should give us a house. It’s not fair, others were given. It’s also normal“, ends Mioriţa. In October, Vulturilor changed in a camping place. On one side and the other of the street, there are hung two lines of tents, the majority of mountains of 2/3 people. A family improvised themselves a canopy in which you can also stand. The façade of the building from which they were evacuated has the facing stripped and it seems to be in an advanced degradation state. People hoisted the placards brought by NGOs: „Street is not home“, „Down with real Estate mafia“, „Don’t break up families“, „Justice for the 3rd Sector, houses for everybody“
Mioriţa got used to this sight. 4 weeks already passed. Behind the fence in front of which she stopped, was her home. The fence is high, you must he ton a chair to see beyond it. „There in the back, on the left. “ But there it’s nothing left but a ruin. „They set about demolishing something, then at the beginning. “ Only the boys from the security company contracted by the City Hall walk on the debris and garbage.
The longest night on Vulturilor
On 15th September, at 9.00 am, everybody was awake on Vulturilor. They knew, they were notified one week before that they have to move out and they had finished packing their luggage when the masked security people came. Although it was the 1st school day, Mioriţa didn’t go to the Technological high school „like Radu“, where she is a pupil in the 10th grade. She stayed with her family, to see how they are chased away from their house. „It was a big noise in that day, all the televisions came, it was a scandal“, says Jana, Mioriţa’s mother, from her armchair thrown in the middle of the pavement. „Luckily we had the NGOs, they brought us tents, clothes, mattresses, food, everything. It was good, especially that the next day came, again the Police and they took us all the old coats and threw them away , they said that we do gypsy things“.
Mioriţa’s parents moved here in ’97, when she was 1 year old. From 2002 until 2007, they paid a modest rent to the old owner: „We had contract at ICRAL, we paid money. But after the owner sold to this company, nobody came to ask us rent“, explains Jana. Although they always knew that, someday, they could be chased away from their house, they never imagined that this thing would really happen. „Not even now I cannot believe that they chased us away “, says Mioriţa while she twists her lips.
The first night out was the longest one, remembers the girl. It had already got dark for a few hours, it was about 11.00 pm when she zipped the tent’s zipper, together with her mother, in order to sleep. On the street it was still activity. They laid down on the inflatable mattress and then Gărgă, how the family spoils her, started crying, and Jana told her to sleep and leave the nonsense. The girl couldn’t take out of her mind their image sleeping on the pavement. But the fidgeting didn’t last for a long time, because at 2 o’clock the waking up started: it was Miorita’s father and brother’s turn to sleep, because they woke up early to go to work, together – day labourers. The women got out of the tent and they joined the other ‘’evacuated „who couldn’t sleep. On Vulturilor a fire was made.
„If my father also dies“
From the end of the street Jana comes closer with a white bag in her hand. „Here comes the food“, says Mioriţa and she quickly puts her seeds fist in the back pocket. On the little table covered with oilcloth in front of the tent suddenly they make free space and 1 bottle of 2 litters of Cola appears, a loaf of bread and a packet of paper from which appear a few slices of fat instead of ham. Mioriţa and her grandma take first, then her mother, and at the end – Florin, the father.
Florin cannot speak for about 2 years, since he was operated for cancer: „He has a button like that in his throat, they took him out his vocal cords“, says in a low voice one neighbour. Mioriţa’s father smiles warmly and he always joins his hands when he wants to thank. His family relies on his disability pension, of 235 lei. Although the man seems strong, Mioriţa thinks that he is very sick and she is afraid that he could die, in the same way her aunt also died 5 months ago. „Since my Godmother died (n.r. – aunt), and mum got sick as well, she wasn’t so thin she was normal. It isn’t good for my mother or father to stay here in the cold. At least if it wouldn’t snow“.
The hair is sacred, anyhow
In August, Mioriţa was in the yard and she was washing her hair. They didn’t have a bathroom, so that all the family washed in two basins: one for everybody, the second only for Gărgă, and the basin for her hair. Mioriţa washes her hair every week, on Saturday or Sunday. She shampoos once, she rinses, she shampoos again, she rinses again, she puts conditioner, she waits a little bit and she rinses again. With a pot of water she manages. „Other girls washed their hair where their parents also washed, I don’t like it like this, I had my own separate basin, because my hair is sacred, anyhow. “ After Mioriţa, the most important thing at a woman is to be tidy.
Now she washes her hair at her relatives, at her grandma or sister, where she can. There were nights in which she slept in their house as well, when it was very cold or she was extremely tired. „They say that they welcome us, but I know that they get bored because we go there too often to bathe ourselves or to sleep. Not even they have too much space, a room, that’s all. We don’t have where to go. “
The Baccalaureate and the driving licence
On Facebook, Mioriţa looks towards the objective in all her photos and she keeps her lips puckered. Shortly she was tagged in a few photos, taken in her desk, at school, with two classmates, and in her description she writes: „And good night everybody, Bonita, Miorita & Miky kiss you all!! «My beautiful classmates»“. „I don’t like it’’, says shyly about her profile of Facebook. „I must change my picture, to be simpler“.
Mostly, Mioriţa wants to pass the Baccalaureate exam. It would be the first from her family: her sister gave up school in order to get married, and her brother only finished 10 classes. The other two things on the wish list are to take her driving licence and be someone in life. „When I was little, I wanted to be a model, now I don’t know…“. She likes Antonia very much and she likes oriental dances: „I danced a lot before, in my house, with my friends, but now since I am sad, I don’t dance anymore. “
It’s cold for the time being and I cannot dream anymore. Mioriţa’s reality are the tents on Vulturilor, at which she hardly returns after classes. „I like to be at school, because I can forget about my problems. “
On 25th of October, it first snowed in Bucharest. On Vulturilor Street, the tents weren’t pulled up by the snowstorm from a miracle. In the canopy, it strongly smells of gasoline, from the boiler in which the people made a fire. Everybody stay around it to keep warm. Their boots are wet up to their ankles and you can see only their eyes from the overdressing. Florin is absent, he is at the tent, and he clears the snow from the path. From the middle of the street Miorita silently watches him, moving her feet without stopping. She wears the same trainers with stresses which she wore also when there were 20 Celsius degrees outside. Florin turns towards me and he tries telling me something. After I put him repeat, I understand, more by reading his lips: „Bitterness young lady, bitterness. “ On 12th of December, the sun appeared in Bucharest after a month of raining, sleet and bad weather. Enache family still live in one of the eight tents that still exist on Vulturilor Street. Mioriţa and her brother stay at their grandmother, because they cannot stand the humidity and cold from outside. Their parents put a request at the General City Hall of the Capital in order to get a social housing. They wait for good news and they wait for Christmas in the same tent in which they live from the 15th of September.
This article can also be read here http://adevarul.ro/news/bucuresti/povestea-amara-mioritei-copila-16-ani-condamnata-tristete-familia-i-a-fost-scoasa-strada-dintr-o-casa-nationalizata-1_548c0125448e03c0fdb4a8eb/index.html