A mother’s dream

She was at home, on the 9th floor of an apartment building in Bucharest, communist Romania in the summer of 1981. She was very nervous, biting her nails, as usual, waiting for the results of the Pedagogical High School exams that she had recently sat. If she passed them, she would become a primary school teacher. Her admission to high school would bring the certitude of a stable career, long term job security and some degree of status. It was her passport into a teaching career – a well-regarded and respected profession in communist Romania. That admission was a big event in any family in those times, as education was one of the few tickets to freedom, especially for girls. Girls didn’t have many career choices and that high school would provide her with a job and a workplace upon graduation. Her mum always wanted her to go to University and would tell her: “If you study, you will become someone important.” She wasn’t sure about how she did in those written exams, but she managed to pass the preliminary tests in calligraphy, music, physical education and drawing. At school they were always telling her that she could do better, and she never managed to get a prize at the end of the school year. Her mum was at work. It was starting to get dark. She heard her mum unlocking the door in a rushed manner and bursting the door open, shouting in a very loud voice: “Mihaela, you’ve been admitted to the Pedagogical High School! You will be a primary school teacher!” Very tight hugs and kisses followed the whole evening. Then her mum started to explain how she found out the girl was admitted into high school. It was getting darker when she arrived in the high school courtyard and she couldn’t see the lists with the results of the exams posted on the school windows. She called a boy who was playing with a ball. She interlocked her fingers of both hands, palms up, and asked the boy to step with one foot on her hands and she lifted him up in the air, so that he could read the names on the list. He read all the names up to number 18, when he read the girl’s name. The problem was that there was another girl who sat those exams with the exact first and family names as her. The only difference was that their father’s first name initials were different. Then her mum asked the boy what the letter in the middle was, between the first name and the family name, and when he said D, she realised that that was her daughter and her daughter would become a teacher. That was one of the happiest days of their lives. The following day, her mother went to the high school and copied the names of all the girls and their grades on a piece of paper. She still has the list her mother wrote. In her mother’s eyes, she had already become an important person.