From The Happiness Diary (by Nicolae Steinhardt), transl. Gabriela Ailenei
3 – 4 January 1960: „I don’t think it will be too long,” father says. „They’ll probably give you eight years. I’ll make sure to leave you money with Gica or another relative; the money from the sale of the radio, the cooker, the gas cylinder, the books – to have some money when you get out.” (He has no idea they confiscate the property of political prisoners.)
Monday morning I find myself calm. I wash, I shave, I dress, I check my little suitcase (full of rags). I wasn’t allowed to cry even once during the last three days. Father, who imposed the ban, didn’t cry either.
When I’m ready, I say goodbye. I’m very dejected. Father, however – in his pyjamas, small, chubby, cheerful – is all smiles and gives me last-minute advice, like a coach before a game; fast, without pausing for breath, like a man at a train station who wants to tell you everything, but only begins to speak when the train is pulling away.
„Did they tell you not to let me die like a dog? Well, if it’s like that, I’m not going to die at all. I’ll wait for you. Don’t you make a fool out of me,” he says. „Don’t be a gutless Jew, and don’t shit your pants.”
He kisses me vigorously, he takes me to the door, stands up straight and gives me a military salute.
„Go,” he says.
I climb down the stairs at normal pace, without looking back. I come out the apartment block. There are omens, signs: on the street – at first utterly deserted, even though it’s not early – a single person suddenly appears from around the corner; an MAI officer. I shiver.