The barking became clearer, louder, closer. I was afraid to look back, to have to face one of my deepest, most child-like fears.
There were four, maybe five. When I first walked in I saw some of them. Sad eyes, low tail and that limping implying that maybe they’d been hit by a car. Actually I remember noticing a particular dog when I first arrived, he had a bloody snout, perhaps from a fight.
I must confess that I never liked dogs. I wouldn’t exactly call it fear. It is rather some sort of contemptuous indifference that I feel at the sight of one.
As a child I had bad experiences with my cousins’ dogs, but I don’t think they scarred me or anything like that. I just don’t like dogs. .
I had been in the cemetery for around one hour, and I was enjoying it. The Bucharest Jewish Cemetery is located in the south of the city, near the main Orthodox cemetery and has been the final resting place for several generations of Romanian Jews since its opening in the nineteenth century.
Stray dogs are a common sight in Bucharest, but it seems that cemeteries are among their favorite dwelling places.
I was at the southern end of the site, exploring some of the oldest graves. The graveyard’s overgrown, shabby look and its total silence make it a quiet haven from the hectic chaos in the always-busy city.
But there were those damn barking sounds ruining everything.
They became became clearer, louder, close. I finally dared to look. Twenty yards away, a group of dogs, led by Bloody Snout was running towards me, barking in unison, the sound echoing off the marble headstones.
I fell a rush of adrenaline run through my body.
I do not like dogs.
They were approaching very quickly and blocking the only way out. The cemetery was deserted.
Without hesitation I hopped on a tombstone, I think it read Levy Stein. As I climbed on it, I prayed the grave wouldn’t succumb to my weight and break like many others I had seen around the old area of the cemetery.
Mr. Levy’s tombstone didn’t break, but the dogs kept running towards me.
Then, in a burst of courage, I jumped down from the stone, making a loud noise with my feet as they touched the ground. The dogs, that were already a dozen feet away stopped in their tracks, but wouldn’t stop barking. Then, a duel began between me and Bloody Snout. Neither one of us would back down.
The tension was rising and I was beginning to regret the decision to come down from the tombstone, which was now too far away to climb it without the dogs reaching me before.
After a few seconds that seemed like hours I finally decided to act, and as quickly as I could I grabbed a stick from the ground and let out air between my teeth and palate.
The sad look eyes again returned to Bloody Snout, stopped barking and turned away. The other dogs followed.
And I stayed there, still shaking with fear. After a few minutes I managed to calm down.
I left the Jewish cemetery in Bucharest.