Romanian dictators Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu were executed on
December 25, 1989, after twenty five years of ruthless rule.
The story of a people is the story of their denials.
If I bulleted that story now, you wouldn’t know how to wipe
the sweat off your palms. Your poor palms, afraid to set down the remote.
You must’ve seen, at least once, the news clip of the two dictators
who deny, till bullets mute them, the genocide against their own people,
and must’ve seen, more than once, the PBS special on infamous wards
festering, cribs stacked with cords of bones, rigged with spectral smiles.
Who would’ve guessed the orchestrators of terror
would end up in a makeshift barrack, their shriveled torsos
so infuriatingly small and rigid as dolls’ but for arms flapping
hysterically. Twelve million of us, for twenty five years.
They watched us crawl in unison toward the palm
that held two crumbs: one for the informer, one for the informed-on.
You may have understood the story of the firing squad,
how, fearing clones, we measured and re-measured the corpses,
shot and reshot them. We each craved a bit of dried blood,
a frayed cuticle, an eyebrow stump, a finger
on the trigger, so we replayed the execution all through Christmas,
kissed our informers, broke bread with strangers,
stopped stoning strays, begged Gypsies for forgiveness.
We loved as only people who cannot get enough of death love,
we loved unconditionally for one long day that Christmas of 1989.
after Vijay Seshadri
“Memoir” is from Immigrant Model (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015).