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One Life as His Birthday Present
THE EXPLOSIONSo, on his birthday, on the 14th of January, Vasile Andrii was working on an abatis which was 50 meters deeper into the ground than the place where the explosion was to happen. Early in the morning, at about a quarter to 5, a strong boom and a lot of dust put Vasile to the ground as he was unlocking the hooks from a wagon. "I thought an abatis came down on me", Vasile Andrii says. He took his mask and helmet and went out. He didnât meet one single colleague on his way out. "Did you escape? There was an explosion at 686", were the words he heard from his mates when he got out of the mine. The only thing he was thinking of was that he should have been there with them.
THE SUFFERANCE"Give me a lamp! Iâm going after my pals. Mister engineer, we might find someone still alive!"â¦ He left with the engineer and another colleague. At first, they didnât want to give them the cage, but they eventually went down, even though the director said they couldnât go down in the mine. He met some of colleagues in the gallery and they left together towards the place where the explosion had happened. At first they found the two miners who suffered from severe burnings, but who are still alive. "One of them was conscious and he was saying only this: "Where am I, whatâs wrong with me?", Vasile Andrii remembers.
HERO. Vasile Andrii, the rescuer of the injured, finds it hard to speak about the explosion.
NIGHTMARESHis wife waited him back home. She had knitted late in the night for a sweater she wanted to give him as his birthday gift. She had made a cake as well, but they ate that a few days later. "He was screaming and crying because his colleagues had died", the woman remembers. Vasile still has trouble sleeping at night. He is having nightmares. He dreams the bodies laying in front of him and the children crying on the mineâs galleries. "Schneider had never eaten the meal from the mine. He used to keep it for the children. I had food from home and I used to give him that too. He didnât use to take it. To convince him, I used to say: "If you donât take it, Iâll throw it away!". Then he used to reply: "Vasile, if this is how it is, give it to me, Iâll eat it", the miner remembers.
FORCEDThe Andriis came from somewhere around Bacau in 1990. Vasile Andrii worked for a couple of years in the Jiu Valley and after that he moved in Anina. They have an apartment in what the locals call the new Neighborhood - a bold project of the communist authorities, which turned into a nightmare place. Many of the blocks havenât been finished. Some of them are about to fall, after the thieves took everything from them - from bricks to parquet and doors. Other blocks only have two or three apartments occupied. Until now, none of the investigators asked Vasile Andrii about the things he saw in the mine at the place of the explosion. The miner says that him and his colleagues have been forced to work more than once, even though the methane concentration was way above the allowed limit. Translation by Sorin Balan
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