The age of the lost innocence
Zoe Petre

During Christmastide, 1989, when I used to cry like a dumb head in front of the TV, watching monasteries, censers and the Madrigal Choir ?fully coloured?, I had no idea that, before the end of the year, an avalanche of events would bit by bit steal this happy, na?ve, childish innocence away from me.

On 5th January, I reckon, I was summoned by the Ministry of Education. Schools were about to start and, according to the syllabus, pupils in various grades- 8th, 11th, 12th-were studying the period after the Second World War.

The inspectors didn?t know which way to turn because nothing fit anything: not the glorious accomplishments of the popular democracy, not the collapse of the colonial imperialist system and not even the ?golden age? apotheosis.

I can?t remember the solutions I suggested back then and it didn?t even matter because, without our knowledge, of those summoned there, somebody ? I can?t tell who and to what extent was that slick ? had the uninspired idea of quickly reprinting P.P Panaitescu?s manual Romanians? History, not exactly the best inter-war manual and written by the great Slavic specialist moved by his own commitment ? belated and all the more zealous- favouring the right.

Yet, I clearly remember the conversation I had with a former student, who became a clerk in the Ministry, and who wittily recounted what had happened there during 22nd December and afterwards: how Minister Teoreanu managed to hide himself under his desk on 22nd in order to tail out later; how, on 23rd, the fearful comrade Apostol, chief of the Social Sciences Commission, one of the most displeasing characters of the teaching control and censoring system, also known as ?the bulging frog eyes? had fussily locked himself in his office and had shown up with a slavish and praising adhesion telegram, and how- that was the real revolution- not even one of the typists had accepted to type it for him.

How Teoreanu had showed up again, encouraged by the 22nd December proclamation and how he had to leave again on 4th January, enraged and threatening everybody: ?Never mind, we can leave now, but you shall see that till April it will be also us who shall return!?

It was precisely this last episode that we found particularly hilarious: poor fellow, we said, he didn?t understand anything.

Also at that time, when about to leave, I bumped into a weird philosophy gathering- former students and a few colleagues who made it clear to me that, predictably abandoning the scientific socialist classes both in secondary schools and in universities, they had gathered there in order to overall convert to teach democracy classes.

I took a glimpse of comrade Clătici, the ideological senior sergeant of the University Centre, getting her notebook ready. Stunned, I tried to mumble an objection but a highly respectable colleague of mine encouragingly tapped my shoulder saying: ? never mind, it goes like that as well? and entered the packed room.

Otherwise, everything was just great. It was for the first time in my life when the ministers-of Education, of Culture, those that interested me ? where no longer mono-lingual ogres or some mean and fearfully ignorant lady comrades with pointy buns on top of the head. As Minister of Education they had chosen Mihai Şora ? back then I only knew him from hearsay, and it was only afterwards that I had the privilege to personally meet him- and as Higher Education Deputy Minister they had appointed Professor Cornea, clever, efficient and almost paternal and who was backed up by my old university friend Mihai Zamfir. A real miracle.

After years of joyfully playing upon Pleşu?s witty saying: ?It is not the minister of culture but the minister?s culture that I fear? ? the minister was Pleşu himself.

On the other hand, in the university nothing was as easy as it seemed while under the euphoric feeling given by the first days. On the other hand, I must confess that I only managed to discern an inner perspective of the revolution-which I used to ignore completely ? when I heard my colleague Lucian Boia saying: ?Maybe now we can get rid of the apotheosis teachers?.

The truth is that for 15 years history had been the main means of promoting both the cult of the national-communist regime and that of Ceauşescu?s, so that, proportionally, the concentration of political promoters was at its peak.

Boia had referred to them by the term synecdoche hinting at a certain important Professor of the faculty, Gh. Ioniţă, one of Ceauşescu?s proponents, a long run activist of the CC1 Propaganda Section and till recently a dean.

1 Central Council of the Communist Party.

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