There she sat, Liliana Radulescu, a former teacher of English and French, a poet of grace and intellect. Standing at five feet ten inches, she possessed a radiant presence, complemented by her flowing blonde hair and a pair of elegantly matching eyeglasses. Her earrings dangled with a certain charm, and her fingers adorned with a few well-chosen adornments. She wore a pretty, flowery dress that accentuated her beauty, but Liliana had more than a pretty face.
“Magnificent,” she exclaimed, pointing to the assortment of jars on the table. It is not merely another fable. The large one is a bit lighter, while the small one carries a robust punch, made from plums. Now I know they were palinca and tuica.”
“I do not drink,” I shook my head, to which she raised an eyebrow. “You do not know what pretty things you are missing.”
I smiled, “When I have pretty people around me, I do not need anything else.”
She chuckled softly, “You did not sin; God has nothing to forgive you.”
The chandelier on the ceiling tinkled gently, as if in agreement. I glimpsed through the French window. The women sitting on the balcony were smoking at ease – almost all of them. “You are making His job easier,” she quipped.
We began to nibble on the bread, savoring the moment. Suddenly, another couple approached our table. I teasingly remarked, “You cannot join us if you did not sin.”
They burst into laughter and confessed their sins with a wink and a smile.
“I have seen everything,” Liliana remarked.
She leaned in and whispered, “You have not seen my sins. When a man gets older, women can no longer play with his soul, so she plays with words.”
The gentleman sitting next to me poured a bit into my shot glass, prompting everyone to raise their glasses and say, “Cheers!” I faltered for a moment.
Liliana laughed and advised, “When a woman raises her glass, you look straight into her eyes and then drink. No exceptions!”
I nodded with a grin, declaring, “I cheer with fear.”
She assured me, “Do not worry, this lady is in the choir, pointing to a woman sitting to my left, and she prays to God when she sings. You are safe.” Laughter rippled through the room and the walls remained quiet as the lady began to sing:
“You are raw as clay,
You will be forgiven,
I know how to pray.”
Another lady joined our table, unable to speak English, but her intentions were clear: she wanted water in her glass. I attempted, but my pouring skills fell short. She patiently taught me, without a single word, the art of pouring water into a glass, how to hold the bottle with both hands: one towards the bottom and the other on the neck, and to pour while keeping the bottle horizontal and parallel to the body.
Liliana chimed in, “No, no, no water. Water is no good, not even in the boots.” She learned from her father a long time ago.
The lady next to me nodded in agreement, and I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts were racing through her mind.
In the well-lit corner of the Century-old Palace Hotel in Sinaia, amidst laughter and stories, I realized that I had stumbled upon a place where time seemed to stand still. The gathering of souls and spirits, a communion of hearts that defied language barriers and embraced the beauty of human connection. 8/30/2023
Dhanonjoy C Saha, Bangladeshi Poet, Writer and scientist, residing in New York, USA.