Miruna Coca-Cozma

“I don’t know how you do, but I learned in time to go further without a trace. It is just a manner like any other to offer myself a tiny slice of eternity and an extra hour. In time I learned to drown in Lethe, fill myself with forgettings, many of them until they forgot me too, afterwards. It is just a manner like any other to live with regrets and rages. In time we cease to leave any trace. It is just a manner like any other not to assume the ones around you, not to assume the steps refusing the imprint.

I don’t know how you do, but with every train that goes by, I invent for myself another railway station to give another reason to my waiting. I compel myself to remain here, on the second platform, so that the crowd would cross me by, that I would be assumed by the oblivion and my memories, mistakes and forgivings would bear me without fear.

I don’t know how you do, but when I find myself on a platform of a railway station I set off hearing somewhere in myself my own railway station. You know, a lot of people stopped by in my railway station, some had to rush off, some lost their trains and others simply forgot to take their suitcases before leaving. That is how my railway station looks like, full of late arrivings, departures, trains packed with passengers and rediscoveries.

I keep on staying here on the second platform, waiting. I do not know exactly what am I waiting for. Perhaps everything and nothing at the same time, some lost friends maybe, some love stories I forgot in another station, in another train. I am here so that the crowd would cross me by, that I would be assumed by the oblivion and my memories, mistakes and forgivings would bear me without fear.

I stay here to find an answer to my questions, suspended on passengers’ lips, waiting for a smile, a tear, a sign, a soul; for someone who would make me see his or her station, old love stories, chances, happiness. I am here to watch the trains go by, stop, cross, stabbing the air without leaving a trace. This is the precise moment when I hear somewhere, inside myself, my station. Then, with every train that goes by, everyone comes out, those who stopped in my station and eventually had to rush off without explanation, without taking their suitcases before leaving while I keep on waiting for them on the second platform. Just to look straight into their heart, to cross by them, sweep my traces and leave them jumping and then, this bitter taste coating my mouth.

People filled with void inside resemble one another. They have that unique capacity to take the shape of our look and show us what we want to see. They have that intuition of the word that must be said, they know the gesture, the movement, and the number of tears that must be shed. They suffer the same sickness as we do, the one that hurts the most. They leave without too many words, usually with an sms, just in the moment when our wounds start to be visible. They calculate with an outstanding precision the exact number of steps they need to go away and had already meticulously chosen the colour of the handkerchief they will waive in the air.

The climax is when they start showing off with no scrupulousness the superiority of their sufferance towards our lack of understanding regarding their transcending love and than, this bitter taste invading my mouth.

I know: when life is cheating on us with people overfilled with void, who forget their suitcases before leaving, we should pull the alarm signal of all trains and let them ring out as if we celebrate a mourning. Without calculating the tears we shed or thinking about the colour of the handkerchief, very simple. And the trains should ring, ring and celebrate their departure.

And then, once the departure is over, once the trains stopped ringing and the crowd will start crossing by again, maybe in that moment, only then, I will start waiting for another train.

I don’t know how you do but I sometimes sit down at the world’s edge and watch life from far away; I fold the suitcases that are not mine; listen to the blues and laugh because after such a drought, such a void, in my heart is raining at last.

On the second platform, there are no trains stopping today. I deplore the low loyalty of the chance. I look at these suitcases that do not belong to me; these suitcases full of old stories, photographs, of my friends, without really knowing if I should keep them or just forget them, tear them off like a letter, hide them like a tear or display them like a smile or a wound.

In my station there is however a train that stopped many times, sometimes without wanting it, other times for reasons that I ignore. But I think I have to bear this wordless law: the trains arriving in our stations are not necessarily those we are waiting for. Because with every train passing by there are beings passing by, who find themselves there just to take a further connection which will bring them towards other destinations, and I thought I was the end of the line! I thought that finally the demonstration is done, Q.E.D.; the angels exist and when I least expect it, here they are in my station.”

Swiss people discovered you through the small window – the television. Before “breaking the screen” who was Miruna Coca-Cozma? What “train” brought you to the Swiss land, first to the Radio “Suisse Romande” than to the Television “Suisse Romande” where you present a theatre agenda within the news programme?

The train that brought me in Switzerland was named adventure. I wanted to breath, to see something else besides Romania where I was working as a speaker for the National Television and for Radio 21. I decided to come to Switzerland in 1999 in a “longer vacation” to learn French. I graduated one of the most prestigious High Schools in Bucharest, Romania (due to its teachers and the long tradition of the institution) – “The National College St. Sava”. There I developed my taste for reading and once in Switzerland I felt like leaving the field of audio-visual and return to my first love: literature. I applied at the “Ecole de Français Moderne”, in Lausanne, a section of the Literature University.

Besides the theatre agenda that you present at the Television “Suisse Romande” you also run a Radio programme. Where does the name of your programme Moderato cantabile, come from?

I am a great admirer of Marguerite Duras. While looking for a name for my programme I had just finished her novel bearing the same title. I was impressed by the accuracy of its descriptions. In my programme and my way of writing I was looking for a certain “accuracy” of the word and that is why I thought this title suits the best a broadcasting where music, word, sound and letter are coming together.

How did you integrate in the rather austerely universe of the TV news where you present the theatre agenda? You have your own style, where verve and verb mix with the mimic and gesture in a perfect orchestration which draws the viewer’s attention making him wish to come with you beyond the spoken words, there were the curtain rises: in the theatre halls, to the watch the shows you bring so well in the tv screen light.

The news universe is not so austere. The National Swiss Television offered me a unique chance, an almost absolute editorial liberty. The verve and dynamic I express on the screen comes on one side from this feeling of freedom and on the other from the fact that theatre and show are my passion. I am not a theatre critic, this does not interest me. It seems too easy for me to put labels “this show is good” or “this show is awful”. I have an immense respect for actors, for creative people in general. In my agenda I try to “amplify” the feelings I went through while watching their performances.

You were one of the Mircea Albulescu’s students. Did this help your today’s role as a speaker? You were already a speaker in Romania.

Yes, I was a student in Mircea Albulescu’s class. Those four years of theatre studies were very useful for what I do now. The artistic sensibility I practiced in my acting courses allows me now to “decipher” easier the shows while I see them and above all, feel them.

In Romania you became well known due to the television -“Prima TV”. Was it difficult to start it all over again here in Switzerland: another mentality, another language, another culture, another public, other requirements, etc. etc.?

I became famous due to the first private TV in Romania – “Antena 1”, not “Prima TV”. It is always difficult when we start it all over again, any beginning is difficult. We do not have points of reference (I did not speak French when I arrived in Switzerland in 1999); I did not know how to “proceed”. But I told myself there is nothing to lose and if life gave me the chance to start it all over again, there is nothing to be afraid of. So I took the chance and knock first at the Radio’s gates and later to the Television. I was right to do it!

Where did you get the idea of your book “Ma gare à moi”, Editions d`autre part? Why did you choose this title?

The idea belongs entirely to my editor who listened my broadcasts on the radio and one day he called me. I was going on holiday the next day. He suggested to meet and talk but I thought he was just kidding. When I had the book in my hand for the first time I realised it was no joke: my first book had been printed. My steps are leaving ink footprints...

While reading I discovered another Miruna Coca Cozma; an incisive style, a music of words sometimes melancholically, sometimes like a rebellion against the “trains” which are not “forcément ceux que l`on attend dans nos gares” (“those we are waiting for”). Does it really look like that the station of Miruna Coca-Cozma: “remplie d`arrivées tardives, de départs, de trains bondés et de retrouvailles” (“full of late arrivings, departures, trains packed with passengers and people I find again”)?

There is always some truth, something autobiographical in this book. The border between fiction and reality is extremely fragile in my stories. I think any of us has his or her own station, hidden somewhere, full of late arrivings and rediscoveries. Each of us knows the trains and passengers who stoped by in the soul station...

When you talk about melancholy and desperation you relate to Cioran and say: “Dans ma culture, la mélancolie est inscrite dans chaque cellule du corps, elle est imprimée sur l`âme directement comme la date d`expiration. La mélancolie est obligatoire chez nous, les Roumains. Et puisque pour une fois, nous avons trouvé notre vocation, ce serait vraiment dommage de l`abandonner en cours de route.” (“In the culture where I come from, melancholy is imprinted in every cell of the body, stamped directly in the soul as an expiration date. Melancholy is compulsory in our part of the world and since we finally found our vocation it would be really a pity to dump it on the way.”) Do you think melancholy is marked in our Romanian genes, like a “brand”? Aren’t we running the risk that this attitude would become a “burden”, especially for the uprooted emigrants like us?

Yes, I think we do have this melancholy imprinted in our genes. In our part of the world, even when we are joyful I have the feeling of a... sad joy. Of course, it is part of the western clichés about Balkan people, I mean this melancholy, but any cliché is hiding a part of truth, at least a tiny part. I do not think the uprooted people have a “stronger” melancholy than Romanians living in Romania because melancholy is hard to measure. I would rather say that we have a call for drama, but I do not know to which extent we could speak about a melancholy “made in Romania”...

In the same paragraph you write: “Nous, les slaves, et plus précisément les Roumains, nous retournons carrément notre enveloppe charnelle pour en extraire les organes.” (“We, Slavic people and Romanians more precisely, turn upside down easily our flesh wrapping, to pull out the viscera.”). When you talk about love awareness you say “comme une douce punition, comme une blessure en éveil permanent” (“like a tender punishment, like a permanently open wound”). What surprised me in this text was the assimilation of Romanians into the Slavic people. I thought we were Latin. Would you elaborate on this assertion?

As I already mentioned before, I feel very attached to my Balkanic, Slavic roots. I do not want to go into any dispute on the roots of Romanian people; I think this would be futile. If we exaggerate our Latinity this does not imply in any way the final and total suppression of the Balkan mentality. I find “poetical” and interesting from a literary point of view this mixture of Latinity and Balkanism that goes through our history coming from the darkness of time.

In your book you speak about reliance, the breakdown of life “à deux”(“as a couple”), being alone, bearing scars, with a strong humour, caustic but realistic. When reading, one keeps smiling sometimes bitterly, sometimes liberating. How come we resist to the tendency to “give up” when faced with the difficulties of today’s society? Are we all as you question yourself “que des personnages en quête d`un auteur. Un simple auteur, même anonyme, sans importance, qui pourrait juste nous mettre en page, nous corriger, et nous écrire avec des mots savamment placés dans ce qui pourrait devenir un oeuvre d`art”? (“just characters looking for an author. A simple author, even anonymous, unimportant, who could give us a format, write well placed words for us and edit them in order to create a masterpiece”). Is there somewhere this author?

In my stories I try to speak, feel, vibrate in relation to the feelings I lived through, I sensed sometime somewhere... The society in which we live now fully justifies breakdowns, loneliness. This is a society who directs us, “washing” our brain, alienating us. Between my lines one can read in their transparency the loss of points of reference. That is where the need of an author comes from, a firm hand which could format our page, show us the way, indicate the direction. In today’s society we have trainers for everything, specialists for how to kiss, win the lottery, write a successful CV. Anonymous authors are everywhere. We are surrounded by them and the sad part of the story is that we have a name, a past, some scars and they, the anonymous authors, the “trainers” do not bear any distinctive sign...

Your book bears a dedication “To my grandmother, my one and only real guardian angel”. What kind of souvenirs left your grandmother on the platform of your railway station? What life lesson do you have from your one and only real “ange gardien” today?

My relationship with my grandmother is very intimate and I do not wish to speak about it. This is “mon jardin secret” (my secret garden).

I apologize for this intrusion, it was not meant to be one. Talking about this “anonymous author”, about the search of an(other) identity when the points of reference are lost or at least are farther to reach, it is important to know that we can turn to this “jardin secret” (“secret garden”) as you well say, towards this “ange gardien” (“guardian angel”) where we find the true values inside of ourselves. Without this return to the source don’t we risk to remain eternally only characters looking for an author, moreover an anonymous one? This was the meaning of my previous question.

I think that the secret garden is a necessity. Without it the soul cannot find its balance. Having a guardian angel is a chance I wish everybody to have. This intimate and translucid bond with its wings attaches a kind of lightness to our existence. The thought that a glimpse is sitting on my shoulders allows me to breath and have a complicity smile when a look at the sky.

Does Miruna Coca-Cozma continue to prefer fiction to reality?

This is just a figure of speech, of course, an artistic artifice which allows me to complain against this reality which sometime I do not acknowledge any more. Fiction is for me a space of liberty which allows my daydreaming, my crying and laughing at the same time, my flying backwards. It is a paradoxical sensation, I cannot live without. But I would never replace reality with fiction even though I wish I had a magic wand which would allow me at least once to live truly in a dream. At least for a second, at least.

In the meanwhile did the railway station of Miruna Coca-Cozma become less deserted?

My station was never deserted. Just full of joys and sadness as any other. Full of friends and enemies like any other. Full of hopes and lies, like any other. Like any other railway station...

“Je suis là pour trouver réponse à toutes mes questions.” (“I am here to get and answer to my questions”) Did you find the answers by writing this book? Or at least a part of them?

I do not know if I am really looking for answers. No, this is not true: I do look for answers. For me writing is a therapy, to free myself from the demons, from all the images which hurt or leak my wounds. Certainly I wrote these columns in a difficult period of my life. Writing was a liberation act for me. The answers I found brought light on my way and they accompany me when I do not know where to go anymore.

When would we have a Romanian book signed by Miruna Coca-Cozma?

I do not know if I am capable to write in Romanian. I never wrote in Romanian, although I always wanted to, actually. But there was always an inferiority and incapability feeling which haunted me. I think by getting in contact with French, the fibre and fever of writing got energized without knowing it, they sneak into my life before I knew it. I prefer French, because it is a language which does not belong to me, I did not sleep in this language, I did not dream in this language, I did not cry in this language. French is for me a kind of gigantic vehicle. It allows me to ride through words and feelings without any complex. My relationship with writing is different, a distance is imposed, words are less used in French, they do not belong to me. This is a freedom I take advantage of, Romanian language “paralyses” me, I feel incapable.

Should the reader remain with only one “message” from your book, which one would you like to convey?

I do not think there is a message in this book. One should let oneself floating on metaphors, sounds and scents. I wrote sincerely (actually some friends “reproached” me this too intimate literature I practice in my stories), but this was necessary because I think the act of writing does not tolerate lying. If we have the courage to let our words be printed on a page, if we have the idea of something “final”, “perennial”, than we must fully assume the fact that we are like in a shop-window and lots of people will look at us. They will read us and understand us. That is why I do not think I wanted to convey a message, not even a subliminal one; the only thing I dream of is finding the right wave to vibrate together with the reader.

In the end, what train you would not want to miss, towards which destination?

I do not want to miss any train. “Hope” is a good destination for me...

“Bon voyage” Miruna, towards this destination! Thank you for being so earnest in your answers!

Geta Rossier, Lavigny
Translation: Alina Mondini, Zürich

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