Carmen-Francesca Banciu







Fragment from the novel


Translated from German by Zoe-Annamaria Hawkins





Mother also came to Bucharest because she had nothing to wear anymore. That wasn’t new to me. Mother shopped for Father. For her, she said, there was no more money. Mother only bought clothes for herself when her old ones were almost decomposed. And even then, only what was most necessary.

Mother hardly deemed anything necessary. Except painkillers.

Clothes were necessary to cover the body. To protect it from the cold. And especially from the prying eyes of others.

Mother’s choice of clothes did not consider fashion, but practicality and necessity. And if it somehow had been possible she would have given that up too. Maybe she wouldn’t have given up shoes. Mother didn’t want to give up Father. And Father loved mothers legs in high heels.



         Reading RKI Berlin



Mother was buried in the green dress. Bought in Bucharest. We bought the green dress together. In the earlier days I never went shopping with Mother. Not even when it concerned my clothing. Mother took care of everything for me. She knew my measurements. And at a pinch she helped herself with a string for measuring.

When I would return home on holiday Mother would measure my feet with a string. My upper body. My arm length. My bust measurement. My leg length. She then would buy the things when she had time. I went back to boarding school and was sent a package. And if I had grown in the meantime I still had to wear the clothes.

Maybe this is the reason why I soon gave up on growing. And remained the smallest of the family.


Gradually I refused wearing those clothes, kept the secret from Mother and borrowed things from girlfriends.

I wasn’t allowed to exchange what Mother had bought me.


In school we wore uniforms. Mother would buy me those at the beginning of the school year. Sometimes I outgrew the uniform. Later I didn’t grow anymore and would wear the same uniform over several years.


I hated the uniform wholeheartedly. With all my vigour. The uniform was repulsive. It wore out quickly and resembled a sack. It didn’t matter to me if it fit me or not. It’s ugliness was absolute. I didn’t believe it made a difference if it fit or not.


I wasn’t supposed to have an ambition for beautiful clothes anyway. Clothes that were reprehensible. Because they would attract the gaze of others. The gaze of men.

I had to give up vanity.

I had to be an example for other children and young women.

I had to become an example for my future children.


Beautiful clothes are reprehensible. Clothes that let eyes rest upon them. That cause getting noticed.

I rejected Mothers thoughts. Swore never to adopt them.

Some thoughts have snuck into my head. I only realised that after it was too late. When I had my own daughter. And her children’s blouses didn’t fit her anymore. And she desired beautiful dresses. Wearing provocative clothes and flashy makeup. And wanted to attract looks. And I called her attention to that. And asked her who’s looks she wanted to attract. And after that felt a sting in my heart. And I hated Mother’s image within myself.


I hated Mother’s image within myself. I hated myself.

And I wished to destroy myself.

At that time we were not in Bucharest anymore. We were living in Berlin. In a different environment. Here nobody expects us to be an example for society.

Because in Berlin one doesn’t live for the society but for oneself.

In Berlin everybody wears what they want.

And nobody gets judged for it.

Even in Berlin some people wear their clothes like a political statement. They wear them out of their own free will.

They wear their clothes to express something with them. To distinguish themselves. To get recognized.

They wear them to communicate with others.

The purpose of clothing is to make yourself visible.

And not to hide.


Mother was buried in her green dress. In the green dress that we had bought together.

The green dress was made of soft fabric. Silk-like fabric.

It was a blue green.

It was a vibrant green.

It was a radiant green that made Mother’s dark hair shine.

Mother’s hair was full and soft. And only upon looking closer one could notice a grey hair in-between. As if it got lost in there. And didn’t belong to her.


Mother needed clothing. To become invisible. I went shopping with Mother.

Mother would have preferred to buy something for me.

But I didn’t want that.

I didn’t want that. Especially because it was Mother’s turn.

Mother wanted to deflect from shopping for herself.

I didn’t want that.

Because Mother would have only bought the clothes that she thought were right for me, anyway. The clothes that would have fit me in a way that wouldn’t attract glances.

I didn’t want that.

Because I felt ashamed, before Mother. And before myself. I felt ashamed, to admit that I wanted different clothes.

And because I was tired of storing the clothes, that Mother had bought me, in the cupboard till her next visit.


I managed to convince Mother. And that wasn’t easy.

I managed to convince Mother to buy herself more than just one piece of clothing. This was a real success.


We bought Mother a dress that was glowing from within.

We bought a skirt. A suit. A pair of shoes.

The suit had an indecisive colour. Tailored conservatively. Plain. It fit a comrade. And Mother could live with that.


I convinced Mother to buy herself the green dress of light fabric. A fabric that caressed her body. A cut that emphasized her waist. Hid her slightly bulging belly. Highlighted her ample bosom. And altogether brought to light an attractive woman in her prime. Conjured forth Mother. How Mother actually looked. How she was.


We had spent the whole day in the city. We had marched from one store to the next. After awhile Mother got tired. Mother’s legs hurt. But she wasn’t complaining about headaches.

Never before had Mother spent so much time on herself.

I managed to keep Mother from buying things for Father. From handling ordered purchases for colleagues and neighbors.

We came home fully loaded.

Those purchases were exclusively for Mother. Every single item belonged to her and had been picked for her with care.


Every single item attempted to represent her. To help Mother emerge from her cocoon. To reveal Mother. To reveal who Mother was.

Mother hid behind her purchases. And when we were in my room, to unpack everything, she didn’t even want to open the packages.



                         Reading Univ. Veszprem












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