The autumn of 1993 came faster than all the other autumns in the world. By a supersonic, probably, because I woke up much too soon from the arms of my grandma into the huge school courtyard. Groups of people everywhere. Groups of small and big children, groups of grown-ups, some happy, others with tears running down their cheeks. I didn’t understand why they cried, since they had been long out of school by then!
Hesitantly and fearfully, I let go of my mother’s hand to join the other children that were going to be my classmates for the next few years of my life. I didn’t understand one word of the principal’s speech. With eyes wide open, I only dreamed of the waves of the Nera River caressing my feet, of my grandma’s pumpkin pie, and my grandpa’s restive horses.
But the speeches were over and I was forced to snap out of my daydreaming and go to our classroom. Being shorter than the others, I sat down in the first desk, at the window, facing the teacher’s desk and the… teacher. She was my neighbor, madam Ciubotaru. She would always affectionately call me Katherine. I remember her saying my name even then, and probably telling me something, but my attention was drawn to the primer lying on the much too high desk. I almost didn’t dare touch it with my hands all sweaty from the nerves, not to break it, like an icon. Letters were unknown territory for me back then and I thought that book must hide great secrets between its covers. Houses, elephants, flowers and the moon itself were all gathered together in one place, throughout a few tens of pages.
And then was when it suddenly dawned on me! From then on, things were never going to be the same. The first day of school had abruptly changed madam Ciubotaru into teacher, my playmate into my classmate, the huge building on the corner of the street into my school! That was where I was going to spend the next few years of my life, from Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. I told myself I couldn’t let that happen!
And that’s when I made my escape plan! I would tell Mom, when she came to pick me up, that I wouldn’t be coming to school as of the following day. So, when I saw her, I opened my schoolbag and nervously waved the primer at her: “See, mom, how beautiful it is? May I show it to Grandma as well?” I thought that maybe that would convince her to take me to see Grandma the following day so that I could tell her ‘stories’ from the primer too, and, therefore get rid of having to come to school. It didn’t work! My mom told me, loud and clear, that from that day on, I would have to go to school daily, for many years, so that I could ‘become a doctor and give her injections if her leg ached’.
So, whether I liked it or not, I had to go to school daily. But I didn’t become a doctor! So, if Mom ever has any ache, she’ll have to see an orthopedic. For soul aches, however, I will gladly tell her ‘stories from the primer’!