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A major obsession: Ada Kaleh, the island of my childhood


My major, almost daily obsession/passion in the last years is Ada Kaleh, the island of my childhood. When I was 9-11 years old I lived with my parents in  Turnu Severin, an old and beautiful town known as the ’’city of roses’’, at the Danube. We use to go by ship to the small exotic Ada Kaleh island with a Mediterranean climate and flora, 1700 long/500 wide, an oriental paradise, with around 1,000 inhabitants, most of them by Turkish origin. All of them grew up in the light of a strange and very ancient oath of allegiance: those who left the island had to come back to die and to be buried at home-the island with catacombs haunted by children or ghosts, the island with strong and passionate love stories, the island with a vivid and spectacular history of over 2000 years, from the Roman empire epoch.

I remember with a special nostalgy the white mosque in the middle of this magic place, the oriental architecture of the houses and the narrow streets with Medieval stones, the ruins of an Austrian  fortress built on the 18th century, the kind people who sold us the delicious Turkish delight, millet beer, khalva, nougat or the unique roses jam. My parents sat down on a terrace to drink the coffee boiled on fine sand and smoke tobacco with the nargilehs...

In 1971 I was 19 years old, I lived in Suceava, East-Northern Romania and I read in the newspapers that I’ll never have the chance to return on the island of my childhood...The communist rulers from Romania and Jugoslavia decided to build a big hydro-electric powerplant on the Danube, on this area called the Iron Gates and Ada Kaleh disappeared forever in the waters of the huge lake with all its historical treasures.

Nobody wrote untill now about the tragedy of the inhabitants of the island, so conservatives in their habits and who loved so much this mythic place. Such aspects of life could’nt be reflected by the Communist media and after the 1989  revolution these people ( desplaced to other Romanian places oreven in Turkey) have been forgotten by the national community and intelectuals. Now they cannot respect the ancient oath of allegiance, they cannot die and be buried on the native space...

I feel I must find the necessary moment to interrupt other art and literary projects and dedicate my whole efforts to the Lost Island...A novel or an art exhibition about Ada Kaleh, the immersed island, could liberate my obsession.

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Beautiful story

Karen Hunt

This was a beautiful story filled with loss and yearning. I've traveled to this part of the world and lived for a number of years in Slovenia. I'm writing some stories that feature Romania so I read this with special interest.
Karen Hunt

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many thanks

Thank you, Karen, it's wonderful to hear about you and your literary projects due to an idea of Red Room administrators.


Best feelings,