An Enemy of the People in Oslo

by Rimini Protokoll



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Name: Aurora-Doina Kanbar

Age: 55

District: St Hanshaugen

Nationality: Norwegian/Rumanian

I have an apartment on St Hanshaugen, but I also spend a lot of time with my boyfriend Edvards flat in Frogner.

I work as a translator of fiction and translate from Norwegian to Rumanian. Among the authors I have translated are Jostein Gaarder, Hanne Ørstavik and Tor-Åge Bringsværd. In addition I work at Deichmanske library.

I belong to the ones who have lived in a country at war, the mothers, the ones who look on the bright side of life, the ones who always want to make it but still don't, the ones enjoying peace and quiet, the solidaric, the coffee-drinkers and the first generation of women in Ceausescu's Romania who had to do military service but I do not belong to the extremists, the ones who sleep in on the mornings or the unpractical ones.

My story is this: against my will I ended in Oslo. Thirty years ago I married a man from Syria who I had met through my studies in Bucuresti. After a while we moved to Bagdad because my husband got a wellpaid job there. Then the war against Iran started and we decided to move back to Rumania because it was a safer place to be. We applied for a permit to stay – but my husband only received three months work permit. In the wait for Rumania to change the immigration-laws according to the democratization process in the country, we were adviced to apply to the High Commissioner for Refugees. We registered here but continued to live our everyday life in Bucuresti – as we had done before we moved to Bagdad.

Suddenly one day a letter came from the High Commissioner: we were told that within two weeks we had to move to Norway. It seemed like a joke, but the message was that my husband was registered as a quota refugee and had to leave. I was told that my children and I could of course stay on in my homecountry, but we all ended up going. When arriving Oslo we told the authorities that we really wanted to live in Romania but that the country just didn't have all the new immigration laws implemented. The message was still the same: this is just the way it is. After a while I collapsed and went back to Bucuresti with my kids, but my mother adviced me to go back to Oslo. The possibilities were better here. What motivated me to stay was that my oldest son really thrived in school here, and my youngest child got a place in a kindergarden.

I started to manage life here, but then my husband decided he had had enough and went back to Bucurest, because by now the country had changed its immigration-laws. I felt I had fought so hard to survive here in Oslo, and I was inspired by the Norwegian women who seemed to be able to do everything, so I decided to stay. The first social network I found here was the parents of my childrens schoolfriends. What also made me want to stay was that the society here seemed more civilized, Oslo was a much more peaceful and tranquil city than Bucuresti. The children had a good time here.

But for me to readjust was a nightmare. For many years I lived in a kind of tunnel – I can't really say anything about that time because it is as if all the memories of the first period in Oslo has been erased. Now I appreciate many things in the city – the people – there is a peace and quiet here. There is good balance between the green and the buildings. One of my favourite streets here is Telthusbakken. Botanical Garden is a very beautiful place. I like talking walks around Bygdøy or Sognsvann.

I did not have a relationship to An Enemy of the People before, but my boyfriend did read Peer Gynt during a course at the University of Oslo. I think it is a fact that in some instances the strongest man in the world is the one standing the most alone – sometimes you dont know how strong you are until you are on your own. But the strength of a human being is doubled when one unites.

It was a turningpoint when I realized that eventhough I wanted to go home to Bucuresti,  I had the strength to stay in Oslo because I knew that in the end it would be the best for me and my children.

For the performance I am taking a walk either from Frogner or from St Hanshaugen.