The journey on foot from Lăpușna to Boghiceni

For a long time I wanted to have a longer discussion with my uncle Alexandru, my father’s younger brother, to ask him all the questions, to listen to the many stories he knows about my parents and grandparents and to be told details. I thought it would be best if we took a walk from Lăpușna to Boghiceni, where His older sister Zinovoia, who was the second Christian in our family, was married and lived. We postponed the trip for several years, and in the summer of this year (2019) we managed to do it. Before we left Uncle Alexander’s house, I asked him to show me his old pictures. I was surprised to find some I had never seen. For example, the picture with the whole family of my grandparents on my father’s side.

From left to right, in the back, is Grandma Irina with Grandpa Ion. Then, in the front row, sits Zinovia, my father’s older sister, born in 1932. She has her first child in her arms. Aunt Daria follows, then my father, who holds Alexander in his arms. Next is Gheorghe Donea, Aunt Zinovia’s husband and, in front of him, Uncle Nicolae. I also found pictures of myself in the album.

The first on the left is my mother, Anastasia and my father, Vasile. I am hugged by my uncle, Alexandru, who is in sailor clothes, just returned from the army. In the next picture I am in the center. On the left is my cousin Ion Filat and on the right is my cousin Nicolae Sâli.

Starting from my uncle’s house, we decided to walk on the old road through the acacia forest. We were surprised that the first man, a young man, did not greet us, for this was quite unusual at another time. Most gardens look abandoned, even for those who consume wine, the vineyards are abandoned and unprocessed. In former times they took care of them in order to have something to drink. And where our garden was, bought by a neighbor with the house now, is a forest of wild trees grown chaotically with a path that passes through it. Everything looks sad, abandoned and neglected. Through the acacia grove there were once roads, paths, it was beautiful and many people passed to the vineyards and back. As a child, I used to cross this road at least once a day as a child. Because the old roads are overgrown with trees, bushes and thorns, we decided to go through the woods. It was quite difficult, especially on the other side of the hill, where there used to be currant bushes, now is also an acacia grove. The building where the tractor brigade used to be was demolished and the fountain is abandoned. More than two-thirds of the fields are abandoned. I looked sadly at the hills where apple orchards and the most beautiful vineyards used to grow. They are now abandoned and grown with wild olives. Those few fields that are still cared for, according to Uncle Alexandru, are worked by the company “Caravita.” They also straightened the roads. My uncle says that people speak ill of them, but they do it out of envy and should rather thank them, because the owners of this company offered them jobs and gives them 30% of the fruit gathered from the leased lands. When we crossed the border of Lăpușna, we were amazed, because the fields of Boghiceni are neat and well worked. They have corn, sunflowers, orchards, and vineyards, and they all look good and neat. We felt bad for our village and its inhabitants when we compared the works in the fields.

On the way I listened to my uncle’s stories, asked questions and at certain intervals I took a break, sat in the shade of a tree and made my notes and then laid out this text.

Our grandfather, Ion Filat, was born in 1905 (the year indicated in the death certificate is an error). His father’s name was Dumitru and his mother Sofia. Grandpa Ion was the second child in the family. His older brother’s name was Jacob and he was born in 1900. He was married twice. After grandfather Ion, sister Zinovia and brother Vasile were born, who was a neighbor of the house, because his father, Dumitru, gave him the land next to his. Nicknames are very common in the village of Lăpușna, because there are many people with the same family name and nicknames are used to distinguish them. Our nickname was “Chifu” and I was curious who first received it and why. Uncle Alexandru says that both grandfather Ion and his father, Dumitru, were very passionate about fishing. And because they often caught small fish, which are called bream, but also chiffal, someone called them Chifu and it stayed that way. I wanted to assume that it may have something to do with Cephas, the ancient name of the apostle Peter. But here it is not so. However, there is something about fishing.

Many ask me what kind of relatives we are with the politician Vlad Filat. When we lived in the village we didn’t even know that we were relatives and as children we were not even interested, because only on our street lived many with the surname Filat. They distinguished us by nicknames. Certainly we all come from some first person who had this family name, but more than likely this was someone’s first name, because this name is often heard among Russians. One of the pastors of the Molocans in Bender had this name. Uncle Alexandru told me that Vlad Filat’s great-grandfather, named Grigore, was a cousin of my great-grandfather, Dumitru, and that they were also good friends. It means that their fathers were brothers. That was our common ancestor, but no one knows his name anymore.

Grandpa Ion Filat worked as a bricklayer. A large part of his life was employed in the construction of the road, which comes from Hâncești, passes through Lăpușna and goes to Leușeni. He built stone bridges when the road crossed a stream. He would get up in the morning, walk 15 km to the villages of Onești or Bujor, build bridges all day and return home in the evening, going the same distance. And so he did every day. And when he got home, Grandma Irina scolded him for building all the bridges, but his own porch was collapsing.

Now about Grandma Irina.

Her father, Mihai Cartută, was a wealthy man from Sireți village, Straseni district. Uncle Alexander says he was a kind of boyar. He bought several lands in the village of Pervomaiscoe (then called Trojan) and, when he came to see his lands, he passed through Lăpușna, where there was a fountain and a large acacia, under which hikers stopped to dine in the shade and drink water. There, Grandpa Ion saw Grandma Irina and talked to her, they met, they liked each other and then they got married. My great-grandmother’s name was Catinca, from Ecaterina. Grandma Irina had three brothers and a sister. His older brother was called Mitruță (from Dumitru) and he also lived in Troian (Pervomaiscoe). A son of his, named Profir, was the first to receive the gospel from our family and become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then came Liuba, who was married to Vasile Stanciu and lived in Lăpușna. After her was grandmother Irina, born in 1910. The next brother was Efrim, who was 4-5 years younger than his grandmother and he still lived in Pervomaiscoe. I remember him too, because my father used to take me to visit him as a child and his imposing figure was imprinted on me. There was another younger brother, named Ionica, who became an officer or non-commissioned officer in the Romanian army and who in 1944, when the Soviet army was advancing, left with the Romanian troops and nothing was ever heard of him.

He left behind his wife, Eugenia, and two children who were always waiting for him. One of the children, named Mihaili, was a priest in Chisinau. Uncle Alexander is the 14th child born to grandmother Irina. During the war and famine of 1947, 9 children born to her died. In order to survive, they made flour from thistles called “ciurlani,” which they also called târtani. It is a plant that grows in the shape of a sphere, dries, and then the wind chases them through the field. These dried plants were milled and made into a black flour, from which they then made polenta, after which they mixed it with a little corn flour, if they had it. Then, for flavor, this improvised polenta was dipped in a sauce made from hot peppers with water. These peppers were procured from Ciuciuleni, because there the people were wealthy, because there were no roads there and the Soviet authorities had not taken all their resources, as they had done in other villages. Every year, my grandmother used to weave a beautiful Moldovan carpet with roses, which in Lăpușna is also called “război.” Once she took two of these “războaie” and went to a family in the village of Ciuciuleni to sell them for food. When they entered the house of those people, they were just sitting at the table and eating pork steak with cheese, pickles and polenta. The mistress took the two big and beautiful carpets for which she paid with two strings of hot peppers. When Grandma asked for something more, they told her it was enough, and when she asked at least to give my 11-year-old father who was with her food from what they had on the table, they replied, “You will eat at your house.” Uncle Alexandru says that my father was upset for the rest of his life with the inhabitants of Ciuciuleni village after that unpleasant experience. 

In the same time of hunger, a cousin of my father’s, named Paul, son of Iacov Filat, together with a friend of his, hungry, stole from a man named Ion Crăcană, a cow which they butchered somewhere outside the village so they could eat its meat. The authorities heard and they both were sentenced to years in prison. Paul served 7 years in a prison in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, after which he remained there, worked as a miner, and married a woman who had a son named Vasile. Together with her, they gave birth to two more girls, named Vera and Zina.

After the famine, in the following year 1948 Maria, Vasile’s wife, the brother of Ion’s grandfather, went with Anica Barburasă to the field and, when they returned, one took 8 corn cobs and another 5 cobs. They were caught by the Soviet authorities and sentenced to 8 and 5 years in prison in Siberia. Both were newly married, but the authorities did not take pity on them and they suffered in the prisons there all the years they received.

We thank the Lord for the good times we live in, because our generation has known neither war nor famine. Moreover, we have had the privilege and grace to hear God’s Word and believe in the Lord Jesus. Let us pay close attention to the words of Scripture: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB).

Translated by Nicoleta Vicliuc