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Andreea Apetrei UNDER PRESSURE

Stone blocks, dust, a burning sun and dreadful sultry heat. A swarm of people and lots of hammer blows. A

Andreea Apetrei


Stone blocks, dust, a burning sun and dreadful sultry heat. A swarm of people and lots of hammer blows. A large wooden scaffold and walls made out of white stone. I have no idea how I got here, but everything around me makes me dizzy.  I’m trying to move forward through the stone dust curtain, but people cross my path, they stop me and tell me that I must not go any further. The people are tired, stressed, hungry and discouraged. In the hot afternoon sunshine of Curtea de Argeş, Manole’s monastery slowly, but surely, rises.

Beyond the chaos surrounding me, the angry shouts of craftsmen, the cries of hungry workers, I can hear a crystalline whistling, like a gust of wind bringing coolness. It caresses my face and disappears, and when I look towards the place it came from, I see the church. It is like a call I feel the urge to answer. I am hurrying that way among people, only thinking how much I would like to enter.  I look at it, and find it to be beautiful, perfect. Its walls shine under the warm sunlight. It calls for me and I want to enter, to discover the same beauty inside, a building worthy of being dedicated to a stronger force than I am. I walk, always faster.

The first sacrifice. Time

I only stop when, coming out of the crazed swarm of people, a man around 65 years old, blinded by the sun and dust, sees me after cutting off my path. He gave me no second glance before continuing on his way, always grumbling: I have no time, no time. So many things to do. What if we can’t finish…? I gaze at the stone blocks they are working on, with their perfect edges, their smooth facades, the immaculate white of the stone.  Hours and days of hard work and patience were behind this perfection, such a long time dedicated to his true love, art.

I follow his steps up to the improvised outdoor workshop and I ask how are things going for him. But no chance discussing anything with him. All he does is gravitate around the stone. He cannot hear me; he can only hear the stone and what he must make out of it. It talks to him. Somewhere in the middle of the stone, he can see what it is going to be. And he’s not able to see anything else. His hand touches dearly the stone block, caressing it.

Most likely, it is cold, ice cold. But that’s fine, he can give it life.

He told me to move on, to stop keeping him from his work. So I try to back away. I hold my gaze on him for a while. Even so, I feel as if I know him. The man is working from dusk till dawn, day after day. He has a wife waiting for him at home with food on the table, after finishing all her housework. He does not help her, but she understands. Here is where his heart lays.

When he was young, the children never saw him; that is how much he used to work. Some nights he did not even come home, but nobody was worried. He was fine, he was happy. He was with his true love.

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