On the train trip there, it began to rain.
Anya and I were on our way to a town in the west of Romania where we had booked accommodation in a local house for a week and where we planned to do some walking.
But the weather didn’t look promising.
On the horizon, enshrouded in mist, were the silhouettes of mountains.
In the past, on the plains between those mountains, the armies of Austria, Hungary, and Russia had invaded Romania and for centuries it had remained the property of others. In the bad weather, such thoughts loomed large.
As our train approached the station, we passed abandoned factories surrounded by weeds and dilapidated apartment blocks, chipped and cracked. At the station, we were met by dour faced people, resigned to living nowhere.
For 45 years Romania had been a part of the Russian communist empire, like the other nations of Eastern Europe and this town, once thriving and a major source of employment, had been left behind by the relentless march of history, like a discarded wrapper thrown to the wayside.
Long ago, in this end-of-the-world town, people had found hope in a maelstrom of suffering and chaos. And so it was with a woman named Elena (pronounced ‘A-lay-na’). It was 6 years ago that we heard about her and whilst I had filed the memory away in one of my diaries, it was only with recent events in The Ukraine that I was reminded of her………