I always feel nostalgic when I lose myself in the streets of Bucharest, though the nostalgia I am experiencing does not come from my own experience. It’s a strange and confusing feeling actually. It is as if I feel the city, its history, pain and joy and I always wonder what went on in these streets all these years.
Bucharest, my home town, a big city to be more accurate. About 2 million people live here it is always busy, always crowded, people are always running around, chasing whatever they are chasing yet as evening comes…it all changes. Everything becomes peaceful and there is a sense of serenity especially within the old city center, a place with hidden history, charming old buildings and deceiving alleys.
Perhaps Transylvania is Dracula’s lingering region but I imagine him visiting Bucharest from time to time. I can already imagine him as he is on one of his visits to Bucharest. I can see every step he’d take. I see him leaving the Odeon Theatre after a great play; a lovely Romanian woman has her arm wrapped around his. She’s wearing a white dress and high heeled beige shoes. The evening turns into night as they are walking on the street of Calea Victoriei. He tells her interesting stories about old Bucharest as they take a turn to the left onto the famous street of Lipscani.
They are surrounded by old buildings. The sky above them is so dark, sparkling with the stars of a late spring night. The moon is charming as always yet tonight he smiling like the Mona Lisa. He gently takes her hand in his as they stroll down deeper into the street of Lipscani. He whispers to her ‘you look marvellous tonight.’ She smiles coyly and blushes, even though it’s dark he sees it, his hunger pushing him to the edge. He gently raises her hand to his lips and kisses it. He barely touched her skin yet she shivers and the urge of ravishing something so pure, so innocent grows within him. He swallows it down by making a joke about himself. Women always liked it when he was funny, honest and self aware all at once. He told her silence always made him feel guilty somehow as if obliging him to confess to everything he ever did since he was five years old. It wasn’t very funny but she laughed heartily. He smiled at her, his eyes watching her lips, his ears tasting the liveliness in her laugh and the happiness of a warm, living creature. She stopped laughing when she noticed him staring, her eyes filled with hidden desire. There was an alley on the left, Hanul cu Tei street, the artist’s alley filled with art galleries. He told her about his passion for art and how he’d love to paint her. She was very impressed by that. He chuckled thinking of the words ‘paint her’. As if that would happen. His inner laughter turned into sadness. The thought of ending such a young woman’s life, so beautiful, so fragile.
She looked at him and seeing him so grim, she stopped in the middle of the alley. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asked. He stared in her eyes, she stared back with that false hope that he might be the one. They always did that in the end and that hurt more than anything…well…except for the pain the hunger caused.
‘I’m sorry.’ He said and he meant it. She smiled at him, sweet and oh so innocent. ‘For what?’ She asked. Must they all ask that question at the very end?
Many thanks to photographer Codrin Balan who made the pictures available to us.
Photographer: Codrin Balan
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