Thursday, December 26, 2013

Refugee from Paradise--You and me both #1

Refugee from Paradise—You and me both #1

Refugee from Paradise by Dalma Takács is available from

Kindle edition, $3.99; Paperback, $16.80

This story is about leaving behind our past  and surviving the present. About learning to treasure the pains and the joys that make us who we are.   Penny Kiss is a Hungarian refugee girl who was forced to leave her home and friends in Hungary after the communist takeover and start a new life in England in 1948. 

                                                                  Penny's Preface

February, 2013

            The Middle East is in turmoil: Egyptians have deposed their dictator, Mubarak. Egyptians are rejoicing in the victory over oppression. I ask my students how they feel about the events in Egypt. How does it compare with the Fall of the Berlin Wall, I ask them. I meet with vague smiles and blank stares. Their minute life spans of  20 or so years barely embrace the events of September 11, 2001. The Berlin Wall and the crumbling of the Soviet Empire seem to them like shadowy visions in a history book.
            I remember how we celebrated in 1989 and made wild predictions of a rosy future.
            "And you thought only war could change the world," my husband said.
            "And a little help from Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher," I added.
            My husband is a historian. He likes to keep things in perspective. The Soviet empire was created by human beings, he says; human beings don't last forever. Dictatorship can't last forever.  Even dictators must bow to economic pressures as the kings before them had. 
            Of course he is right; and he rejoices at the fall of communism. But his rejoicing is different from mine. I am a child of the Cold War. I may live in The US, and the horrors of communist Eastern Europe are no more, but I cannot erase those years from my memory.
            When I left Hungary, I carried my baggage of sympathies and loyalties  with me to England and locked them up in a lengthy journal. Then I moved to America, and my journal came with me. Life in America forced me to be happy with my fate and I kept my journal  under lock and key. But the baggage is still in my closet, and tonight it demands to come out. 
            "Plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose," say the French. We change and we stay the same. I am not the same person I was when I wrote my diary in the 50s. The world is not the same today that it was in the 50s. We are no longer fighting the same battles. In 1956 Hungarians fought and died to defeat communism. They failed in 1956, but  they started a process that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. 
            Today 1956 is only a blip on the radar screen of history. The fall of the Wall is another blip. From one blip to the other we live, we fall in love, we marry, start a family, get old and die. My blip is not necessarily your blip, but my blip has determined my place in the world as yours has determined yours.  The songs that echo in my head are the Hungarian folk songs my father has taught me. Your songs may be rock songs or country music, but you treasure them the same way because they are part of who you are. Our enemies and weapons may be different, but we share the same goals: we fight for survival as human beings.
            So I unpack my diary  to see how the fight for survival looked in the 1950s and I find strength as I read. 


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