Ceausescu’s portrait was omnipresent! It was displayed in every classroom, every room of every institution, and even more, it was printed on the front page of every textbook. It was such a common occurrence that no one would even pay attention to it. However, the communist militants would make sure that children would pay the compulsory respect when they were “in the presence” of the beloved leader. For example, some teachers would ask children to piously look at the portrait while singing the national anthem at the beginning of the school day. And they would do it without question, with the innocence of that age.
As a child, he often heard his parents humorously talking about the enduring portrait of a dictator who would never grow old. In all his portraits over 40 years, Ceausescu had been portrayed as a young and charismatic leader, despite his obvious natural aging. The propaganda would do almost anything to make him look infallible in the eyes of his people.
That reminds him of a bizarre photo adjustment such as erasing his right ear out of the photo in a ridiculous attempt to make him look handsome. For many years, Ceausescu was represented by a semi-profile photograph in which only one ear was seen. As the “in one ear” portrait (Romanian idiom meaning "to be crazy") generated many sarcastic jokes and funny stories, the propaganda machinery took notice eventually and exchanged the portraits for photographs in which both ears were visible.
One time, during his first year of school (in communist Romania the school was starting when a child was 7 years old) one extraordinary funny event happened. During a lunch break, one of his classmates was disobediently playing with a tennis ball inside the classroom. By accident, he threw the ball and hit Ceausescu’s portrait displayed behind the teacher’s desk. The children held their breaths in terror. The glass shattered into millions of little pieces, however, the framed portrait was still holding on up the wall. The children knew they were in trouble. Big trouble! The children quickly tried to remove the glass to cover the accident.
His first-grade teacher, Mrs. Patrulescu, the proud wife of a communist militant, was extremely fond of the communist propaganda and consequently, a loyal supporter of the dictator. She would often look at Ceausescu’s portrait as if it was a sacred artefact. Returned to the classroom after the break, she started to walk around, unaware of the accident that took place. Just as she was giving the children a propagandistic discourse about the tireless leader and his impressive achievements, a playful breeze of wind brought down the portrait photography right before her perplexed eyes.
Out of shock and fear of the bad omen, she fell on the floor, unconscious. After being marked down and admonished for the rest of the school year for our disrespectful behaviour towards our great leader, we all learned an important lesson: innocence cannot save you twice from mistakes like that!