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> 65. Deadly Refuge’s Road
dragos
Posted: July 09, 2005 09:53 pm
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by Leonida Loghin

The New Year 1944 was celebrated only a few days before. From the east, from the banks of the Dniester river, black clouds were surrounding the small town of Tighina and the village I was born in, Varnita, settled on the right side of the beautiful river. There were signs that a severe winter was to come, but also signs announcing great dangers in the future for everybody, and especially for us, the natives.

The front was broken by the Soviet armies, and they have achieved to consolidate a few restrained bridgeheads over the Dnieper river, directed towards Kiew. How long was to pass, till they were to prolonge their way up to the Dniester river ? Surely, almost nothing. A little nought, for such an enormous group of warriors.

We were having to leave for Kishinev very soon. The second term of the school was going to begin again. So, my elder brother and I — as we were pupils of the "Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu" high school - must have been there in time. I was studying in the seventh, and my brother Victor in the eighth class.

The good-bye moments with our folks were very painful — as I wouldn't ever before imagined. We all had agreed that in case of imminent danger, we would go with our mates. Our parents were to be going, with God's mercy, accordingly to the circumstances. My father used to say at that time: "One of us, after all, has to escape alive!" But it was a thrilling solution.

So, we went to the railway station. They came with us, too. After a while, the train departed, gnashing its wheels. As if it wished to do so, the steam locomotive thrown away in the air long steam-sheafs which covered our folks' faces, for the purpose that we shouldn't see their tears. I was looking somewhere, standing at the carriage's window. I saw, I still remember now as it has been yesterday, the Dniester river, full with floating ices, the land covered with the clear, white snow, the houses' chimneys from Varnita, launching long smoking arrows. All these were to remain into their places, on our back, far away, only we had been pushed in the outside of this small world, leaving our ancestors' land, due to the cruelty of those times, changed by the powerful ones as they wished. This was to be my last departure from home.

Kishinev town welcomed us, on its turn, full of coldness and fears. Everywhere, from one to another, a whispered question could be heard: "shall we take refuge again?" The streets, still covered with the unhealed wounds of the 1941's summer, when the Russians withdrew at the Romanian troops arrival, were waiting now for a new sentence, maybe much more cruel than the first one had been.

The school had begun on 8 January 1944, but it was hardly going on, because of the stress of the events. The majority of our teachers were elder. The younger ones had left: they were at war. They gave us marks, they were teaching us, they were hurrying up to conclude all sorts of reports. But as the time was passing by, the inevitable separation from our native land came closer and closer. It was to be confirmed this reality by the troops which withdrew in long, unfinished columns, filled with ambulances carrying the wounded men, and also — especially in those long and anxious night - by the bombings of the Soviet aircrafts. On the 15th of March, in a desperate hurry, our schoo-lar exams were concluded. We all received the registered certificates and we were told that the ones who had been enlisted for the evacuation within the country must stay ready at any moment to embark themselves.

Shortly after that, the wicked, cursed day of March 17 came. At noon, I think, we gathered together in the school yard, in square formation. Our school headmaster, the eminent teacher Vasile Harea, from Orhei, former member of the first Romanian Parliament in Bessarabia (Sfatul Tarii), talked to us. He talked bluntly about the griefs of the Romanian people, most of all about the grief of this God-blessed piece of land called Bessarabia, which has been wetted, from the past times, mostly with drops of blood, than with rain drops. He concluded with several words of encouragement, that gave us a light of hope. Yes, it is true - they were, really, hopes. Then, in an emotional silence, the national tricoloured flag was brought down from the pole. For the purpose to be with us, aside, wherever shall we go. But where? We didn't know either.

After lunch, facing a cursed weather, between the snow flakes and squalls of sleet, we left our dear school and went to the railway station of Kishinev. We stopped only a few minutes in front of Stephen the Great's statue, which dominated the corner of the Central Public Garden (it's still there today), to give him the last farewell. With his sceptre in the right hand, the Moldavian Voivode seemed to try to cheer up us, giving us new hopes for the future. As we were walking towards the railway station, we whispered patriotic songs, with tears in our eyes. Then we got on a carriage attached to the "King Ferdinand" Military Lycee train , which was to be evacuated at the same time.

The train departed after an extremely long and full of fears waiting, only by midnight. Every wheel sound was making bigger and bigger the distance between us and our homes and dumbfounded us through the depth of our heart. When the dawn came, the locomotive's prolonged whistle suddendly disturbed us. The train began to go slowely. We were passing over the Prut river and each kilometre of the road was registering the painful refuge we were pushed into. Bessarabia was now somewhere far behind, with all her magnificent beauties: the ancestors' sacred land, her clear waters, the Dniester and the Raut rivers, the ancient forests from Lapusna and Orhei...

The country welcomed us with her hands wide opened. Three weeks later we met again our parents in Campulung Muscel town, as we first had established. Then, we settled in Timis district.

After September 1944, followed up all sort of checkings of the the Soviet commissions; also, all sort of pressures. The Russians wanted that we would return to Bessarabia. But we knew very well that it would have meant Siberia! And the time has confirmed our fears, for many others. We have stayed here, keeping forever in our souls the dear remembrance of Bessarabia, homesickness which was taken over from our parents, who rest in peace in Bukovi-na's Mountains. We have taken it over, to bring it further, to our childrens' childrens' children, until, on our turn, we will go down to rest within our forefathers' land.

And, Great Lord, how much we are still yearning with tears for the Dniester river!
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