Erzsi (Erzsebet) and Alexe live in Araci, county of Covasna, Romania. On December 6, 2013 they have celebrated their 50 year anniversary. Erzsi is 73 years old, Alexe is three years older. They have four children – three sons and a daughter. They are Magyars (Hungarians).

As I have entered the village of Araci and raised my eyes to scan the surrounding, I came across a very large villa on top of the hill. It was so much out of place when compared to all the small, modest and at times poor homes. I have asked who lived in the building and was answered that some Roma families have invaded the building, destroyed the upper floor and are now living in part of the house at the lower level.

My curiosity has prompted me to go and visit the beautiful building. What I found was both disturbing and surprising. As I was told, the villa’s top floor has been totally demolished; windows and doors, floor and stairs have all been removed or stolen. The lower floor is occupied by two or three Roma families and Erzsi and Alexe the Magyars who have bought their apartment in 1956.

The living conditions on both sides of the building are very different. While the Romas are extremely poor the Hungarians have created a self-sustained living style. They are raising chickens and ducks, growing vegetable and fruits and have a small flower garden.

I am intrigued to learn about Erzsi and Alexe. And what I hear is of a life so different of that of the Romas I have been visiting lately. They live off their land and 100 lei they get from the Calvinist church next door which is part of The Reformed Church in Romania (Hungarian: Romániai Református Egyház). Today, the church is the home for only 6-7 faithful.

Looking at Erzsi’s hands I see she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands have been milking cows for 26 years and now she rings the church’s bells twice a day, a job she has filled for the last 16 years. At home she is eager to show photographs from days gone – weddings, young and old family members, and friends.

The parade of photographs has prompted me to ask Erzsi and Alexe to pose for me while holding their wedding picture. Initially they sat almost two feet apart. I nudged them to get closer. Alexe moved closer. I kept hinting “get closer”. Alexe then put his arm around his wife and kissed her. It felt like the two have not been so close to each other for ages – their eyes were tearing, and their expression showed an intimacy they have not experienced for a long time.
Something strange has happened at that moment. Erzsi picked a doll and proceeded to tell me about the 19 abortions she went through due to the lack of contraceptives. Our interaction was short but this lady had left me moved.
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2 Responses to “Romania, Transylvania – Erzsi and Alexe – The Magyars (the Hungarians)” Subscribe

  1. Susan Woog Wagner February 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    This work is among your best.. The portraits, lighting, and connection are superb.. the detail unsurpassed. Kudos, Ruti!

  2. Helmut Schadt March 2, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    A touching report framed by wonderful and intimate photographs. I greatly appreciate your work. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

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