1. Last year, sometime in November, I noticed the novel in the window of the Sadoveanu bookstore. It stood out because of the big Arial letters of its title: The Secret Life of Adela Nicolescu Told by Florian Pavel. For a moment, my brain folded against my forehead and I froze with my eyes glued on the window. On a navy-blue cover was my name—something I was just seeing for the first time. It could be a coincidence. I read the title again and entered the bookstore. The counter was filled with other books, but all I could see was my name. Opening the book in question, I got the impression that people were watching me. I felt as if the door of a hot oven had opened inside my skull. That book was about me. I thought as much after the first page, and now, having read the entire novel, I am positive.
On that suffocating November day, I bought the book, got home, turned on the AC, snuggled up in an armchair, and started reading:
In spring, even though Del didn’t fully understand that the world was changing, she knew her emotions had emerged from that dangerous place of fundamental transformations. One evening, after spending the day with Tantilen as usual in the kiosk in the yard, she went inside with the feeling that something bad was happening. The place was deserted, as though everybody had died. The mirror in the vestibule disappeared and the oil lamps were turned off. Through the crimson curtains, the familiar image of Ion Nicolescu with a Diplomat top hat and a lion-head walking stick looked out straight ahead from a golden frame. Piercing the dark, Del sneaked into the bedroom. Nothing of what she’d known was left. Neither the beds nor the three-door wardrobe remained, but there was a small round table, which she seemed to have seen somewhere. And some chairs. Warm evening light streamed through the tall windows. Del took a step toward a bench, bright green like most of the chairs in the house, and snuggled in, thinking that if she closed her eyes and waited for a while, a miracle might bring back all that had disappeared. She didn’t wait long—or maybe time simply compressed; anyway, after a bit, she sensed a presence … a smooth step sneaking along the walls. She slowly opened her eyes, expecting to see her mother, grandma, or anybody else. She peeked through her eyelashes. Then she opened one eye. Next to one window was a man—a dwarf with short legs and a wrinkled head that seemed to be made of balled-up paper. Del shivered. The little man had bright, restless eyes, but Del couldn’t say what made them look that way. He was a frightening, ugly little man with big eyes, a thick jaw, and a crooked nose that looked like a piece of wood cut and polished with a blade. His bright aura made it seem as though a huge spotlight was trained on him.
Trans. Ileana Marin