Háború. War. Száznyolc év. One hundred and eight years.
Two words which sound like conflict when spoken at once.
Two words which recall the same declaration of World War One.
Two languages pronounced on conflicting sides,
yet their words collide and combine and unite
in the experience thrust into lives
Goodbye to the taste of home-made cake, the sound of songs from crackling records,
the security of grandparents’ spoken tales, the feeling of home from every tiny detail.
Goodnight whispers left wondering if the four chairs circling the table will still be standing
when they arrive back home. If they arrive back home.
Good morning eyes open wondering if the toys left behind will one day be beside them again
when they grow up. If they grow up.
And in the uncertainty of viszontlátásra, goodbye, they unite in an echo of
Hope for the taste of home-made cake, the sound of songs from crackling records,
the security of a loved-one’s spoken tale and the feeling of home from every new detail.
The new hope that writing their tales in letters will make heard their crackling voices
when their loved ones receive them. If they receive them.
The hope that they’ll sink their fingertips into the marked page and feel closer to home
when they wake up. If they wake up.
And in the strength of remény, hope, they unite in the triumph of
szeretlek: I love you.
The dream that they can shout it aloud tomorrow. If there is tomorrow.
Because they always found reason for szeretet. For love.
For every conflicting word collided, combined and united in a second language everyone learnt to speak:
The silence that became every language
when they didn’t arrive back home.
When they didn’t grow up.
When they didn’t receive letters.
When they didn’t wake up.
Silence for no more tasting of home-made cake, no more songs from crackling records,
or security of grandparents spoken tales.
Because the yearning for home was engraved
in every tiny detail of too many young graves.
Yet in the brokenness of silence, they still united in unbroken feeling of
szeretlek: I love you. Because there always will be reason for szeretet. For love.
For hope that even after goodbye there can be hope for béke: for peace.
And there was béke. There was peace. Száznégy év. One hundred and four years.
Two words which sound like conflict when spoken at once
yet feel like union when understood to mean one.
Two words to remind our world that war is not the past but the present.
That today is not for the past but for the presence of memory:
of life, of loss, of lessons, of language and acceptance.
November eleventh: emlékezés. Remembrance.