My address book is overpopulated, like a communal apartment during the post-war housing shortage. Several pages have fallen out, and someone spilled water on one page, smudging the ink. The whole book needs rewriting; at the same time I must carry out a purge of the past: people should be carried forward into the future, or buried in the vaults of memory.

Someone gave me a new address book as a present, so on this fine day I am sitting down to transfer into it the names that I want to keep. The old book is a cryptogram of my biography, coded in letters, figures, names and telephone numbers. I regret parting with it, but it has to be done, because time insists on forever recasting the plot of my life.

I open the first page: ‘A’. Alexandrova, Mara . . .

In Romania
Europe in Ruins