A Conversation with John

(Translated from Romanian by Mihaela Alecu. For Romanian press here)


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“John, would you please help me to translate Omenie in English?” asked Victor. “You know I don’t speak English very well, even though I’m in America for five years now…”

After a second of thinking, John answers him:

“I know, Victor, I know. That is why I am here: to help you.”

“Thank you!”

“But you know what your problem is?” asked John.

Victor rolled his eyes in a “not another lecture” rapid movement.

“No… What?”

“You do not want to learn English anymore. You could do better. You basically rely on me too much… What did I tell you the first time we met?”

“To go take some English classes…”

“And what did you do?”

“I started working in a restaurant. But you don’t understand: I was hungry, and I have not had any money. Life is harsh for an emigrant, with no friends here, no family, no support… For you it’s easy…”

“Maybe, but this is not about me, right? And it is not about friends, it is about the English language. Now you have me, I am your friend, but did anything change about you? Did you improve yourself since you came to New York?”

“Well, no, Johnny boy, but I didn’t have time. I have to work hard, to pay for food, gas, rent, and of course taxes, and so on. You think this is easy for me? In Romania I wasn’t alone like here, and what is more, I was appreciated in what I was doing… Now I am only an alien who speak bad English, and work in a restaurant…”

“You know what? When you get angry you speak better English!”

“I’m not angry, I’m desperate… But thanks, I guess.”

“That’s the spirit, my friend. Be optimistic. You’ll see, things will get better, if you think positively.”

Victor looked at him for a moment.


“How what?”

“How is it possible that things get better, if they are going worse every day?”

“Well, first you have to think. Thinking is what makes you human.”

Victor interrupted him:

“But I’m thinking!”

“I’m talking about real thinking, not having thoughts about what to eat or drink, not about what TV program you should watch tonight, and so on. I’m talking about thinking about your condition, the human condition; about human nature, about what makes you human, i.e. the thinking itself; and of course, about your faith. Do you still have faith, Victor?”

“What, like believe in God?”


“I didn’t think too much about that…”

“See! Exactly my point!”

“Oh, come on. That’s not fair! You twisted my words, and entrapped me with your questions.”

“I agree. But you still did not answer my question.”

“I don’t know! What difference does it make if I believe in God, or not?”

“A lot! So, do you?”

“I do not know… When I was a kid, I used to go to Church with my Mom. Not every Sunday, but twice a month probably…”

Victor smiled, remembering his childhood.

“Heeello! Do not stop now.”

“Ah, O.K., but I didn’t like it, you know, especially in winter time. It was too cold outside, and too hot inside. And I never had a chair, so I always stand. And the Orthodox religious service was sooo long! It was really exhausting for a child…”

“And? I am not asking you about the Church, or the rituals. I am asking you a simple question: do you believe in God?”

You are asking me about God?”

“Yes. So, do you?”

“I don’t know what to say. Probably, in a way. My own God, most likely.”

“Good for you. Now keep that faith for yourself, it is yours, and for you alone, I don’t care…”

“What?! Is this a joke? Are you making fun of me?”

“No, I just want to go to the next step. But remember, you have to keep your faith, because it is only yours, and nobody can take it away from you. Now, here is the next question: did you think lately about your human nature?”

“No. I don’t have time, I told you!”

“Did you recently think about a lot of interesting stuff, maybe?”

“Not much…”

“Did you think of anything at all, lately?”

“Why do you want to embarrass me? Is not enough I speak bad English, now you want to make a fool out of me?”

“Not at all, relax. I just want to help you understand why you’re not successful in the United States.”

“Because I don’t think?”


“And all the successful people here are thinking? That’s why they have success? Is that what you are telling me?”

“That is correct!”

“Well, I think you are the one who is not thinking here, probably something happen to you!”

Victor turned his back, visibly upset. John said, with a softly voice:

“It is Humanness.”


“The translation for Omenie.

“Oh, shut up! Who cares? You know what? Your English is not that good, either! Despite you know so many words! And besides, you know what the main problem is? You’ve became too realistic. This was supposed to be fun… Now I’m really tired of this emigration game I made…”

And Victor unplugged his computer, and the hologram of John disappeared.


Published by dorin

Full time husband and father; full time writer; full time artist (#fineartphotography). And in the free time, I like to travel, to read and to learn new stuff.

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