The Phone While I was a kid, my father got one of the first phones in the neighborhood. I can perfectly remember that wooden crates lacquered, mounted on the wall. The bright receiver was hanging on a side.
I was still too small to reach the phone but I was always listening, fascinated, as my mother spoke to him. Then I discovered that somewhere inside this device lived an amazing person. Her name was “Hello Central” and there was no one thing in this world, which she would not know. Hello Central can tell you anybody’s phone number and also the exact time . My experience with this spirit closed in a bottle came one day when, while my mother was visiting a neighbor and I was playing whit the tool bench in the cellar,I hit my finger with a hammer.
The pain was terrible and there was no one around me to show any compassion. I walked around the house sucking on my sore finger until I reached the ladder.
The phone! I quickly dragged up a chair from the living room in the lobby. I stepped on it, I forked out the telephone receiver and I put it to my ear. “Hello, Central! “, I shouted into the microphone which was just above my head. A click or two and then a low and clear voice answered me back.
” I’ve hurt my finger “, I whimper on the phone and tears overcame me soon, now that I had an audience. “Your mommy is not home? “, the question followed. “There’s nobody home but me ” I stammered. . “Are you bleeding? “, the voice asked me and I answered that i am not.
“I hit myself with the hammer and now it hurts so bad”. “Can you open the cooler? ” she asked me again and I said I can. “Then get over there and get a piece of ice and keep it glued to your thumb ” said the voice. Then I started to call “Hello Central” for anything.
I asked help for my geography lessons and she told me where Bucharest was. She even helped me with my math . She told me that the squirrel that I trapped in a park the day before, eats fruits and nuts. Then came a day when Figaro, our canary, died. I called “Hello Central” and I told her the sad news.
She listened to me and then started to tell me things that parents usually tell their children to calm them. I asked her, “What happens to birds who are singing so beautifull and bring so much joy to people,why do they have o end in a pile of feathers on the bottom of a cage? “.
I think she understood my feelings,because she slowly answered back,”Doru always remeber that there may be other worlds in which they can sing”. Another time on the phone,”Hello Central” and the Central answered with a well known voice. “How do you spell the word price? ” I asked. All this happens in a small town in Romania.
When I was nine, we moved to the other end of the country, from Ploiesti. I missed a lot my friend . I left”Hello Central” in that box of mahogany wood from our old house. I never tried to do the same thing with our new modern and bright phone,in the new house. I had become a teenager but the memories of my childhood followed me everywhere.
Often, in moments of uncertainty and helplessness I remembered that feeling of serenity and security, which we had at that time. I appreciated now how patient and sympathetic and good hearted she must have been for her to lose so much of her time with a little boy like me. After several years, I did go to Ploiesti again, this time to continue my college studies. I took the train there but we had to stop in Sibiu first.
I had a half an hour between trains. I spent about 15 minutes on the phone with my sister, who lived there for a while. Then, without thinking, I dialed the number of operators in our native town and said: “Hello Central! “. Miraculously, I heard the same low and clear voice, that i knew so well saying ” this is the central”. I didn’t plan this but I heard myself saying: “Can you tell me how to spell the word price? ” A long pause.
Then, that soft voice answered me, “I guess your finger has healed by now”. I laughed, “So you are, indeed” ,I said.
I wonder if you know how much you meant to me at that time” . “And I wonder”, she said, “if you realize how much your call meant for me. I have never had any children and i was really happy to get your calls, every day “. I told her how much I thought of it along the years and I asked if I could call her again in May when I come back to visit my sister.
“With pleasure” ,she told me, “just ask for Anca”. I returned to Ploiesti after three months and for my surprize another voice answered me . I asked for Anca. “Are you a friend? ” she asked me back. “Yes, a very old friend , Doru its my name.
Sorry to tell you this Doru” she told me” but Anca had worked only part time in the last years, because she was sick ,and unfortunetlly she died five weeks ago. I was frozen for a second and then right before i was about to end the conversation she said,” One minute, you say your name is Doru? “My heart jumped and i quickly answered “yes it is”. “Well,Anca left a message for you sir,she wrote it on a piece of paper in case that you would call. I’ll read it to you.
Her message was: tell him that they are other worlds in which you can sing. He will know what I mean “. I thanked the operator and i hung up. I knew what Anca meant. Never underestimate the impression you did on someone.
All this came back to me from an old photo that i have in one of the drawers. I realize now ,how much people can help each other,how much we can change if we just open our hearts.
Its hard to acomplish that ,specially with the busy life we all have everyday,but a reflection always makes us think twice. I wish that all the people to be like Anca and even if i never met her in person she is always gonna be in my heart. The more years pass the more value she has for me.
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