Hope that every child in war will witness a gentle rose

The fires of war.

The dark cellar.

People hiding in corners.

The whole city comes to a standstill.


I have asked myself this question – will our visible world one day be pressed the pause button.

When the hand symbolizing time still cuts a shadow of the past, and we can no longer see the change of day and night, then what meaning of time passes inside the dial that continues to work?

When the world order becomes a life-and-death game of hide-and-seek, in which everything is fluid and only we are blindfolded, how do we continue our destiny?

At the same time, for us human beings who cannot stop exploring the good, does suspension mean destruction in another sense?

I. The loss and demise of yesterday’s world

War may be able to do all this.

In the year when the siege of Budapest broke out, a fifteen-year-old Hungarian girl, Arnaudy, wrote as follows.

“In this city, which has been reduced to ruins, all moral concepts have been shaken. Evil deeds were regarded as virtues, and the cold-hearted survived more easily than the good.”

As a result of this war, the young girl Alnodi was forced to start a life of hiding with her parents at the age of fifteen, witnessing human feelings in the cellar where the walls were shaken by ammunition at any time, living carefully in the countryside where she could be politically persecuted at any time, and fleeing across the border where her life could be cut short at any time ……

As a first-hand witness to all this, she recorded what she saw and heard in her diary, as it were.

She had presumed her ordinary youth, dreamed that the war never happened, and that she was just a girl who only had to worry about playing the piano. However, like a big invisible hand rattling everyone, the world of yesterday that Arnoldy had lost was also theirs –

They left behind the half-played sonata on the piano, put down the unfinished Balzac book in the study, left behind the courtyard that had been carefully decorated in front of the door, and threw away all the beauty that they could have envisioned in their future.

They hid in the darkness of the cellars, each of them worrying for a long time about the little food left, risking their lives to find water, praying that the soldiers would not find their hiding place.

They had only one most simple and luxurious thought: I don’t want to die yet, I want to live.

The world of yesterday was like a fantasy dream, and those who fled had to give up the past, and even yesterday’s self, again and again in order to have a chance of survival.

The war has not only made having enough food and safe shelter, i.e. meeting the basic needs of life, a castle in the air, but it has also destroyed the rules and laws built on civilization.

The prosecutor and his wife insist on claiming that they will be protected by the status of a neutral nationality, which is not worth anything in the face of the death threats of German soldiers.

The gentle, kind single mother Eloise, who is found tending to a wounded German soldier and is immediately raped by Soviet soldiers next to his body.

Mr. Laudenauy, a Jew wearing a “yellow star” protected mark, who finally waited until the Germans were defeated, thinking that the arrival of the Soviets would allow him to truly walk in the sunlight, only to be killed by Soviet soldiers with bullets simply because he refused to be conscripted into the labor force ……

Everything is just before death, and no human-established rule or identity can make it inevitable.

The text, in this sense, reveals a solid and distressing fact –

While the war was going on, the line between justice and injustice was actually blurred for the innocent sufferers, who had to bear all the consequences and fruits along with all the good intentions, malice, selfishness, and selflessness all together.

The truth about war is the truth about people

As a diary, all the records revolve around “people”, just as Professor Yuan Shiaoyi wrote in the preface of this book.

“It is an effort to find the truth about ‘people’.

Her distance from her own words does not mean that she is devoid of sorrow and sadness, but rather the calm despair that is visible between the lines.

Even a single word of depiction seems to weigh a thousand pounds, and the complexity of human nature in war is exposed –

The hotel owner, who usually keeps a distance from everyone in the cellar, suddenly kindly cooks for everyone, but only in exchange for the “flour” brought by the soldier Pista, and after discovering that the “flour” is plaster, she reveals a distorted and resentful look, reveals that she is using rotten meat to pretend to be beef for everyone to eat, and curses the occupants of the cellar.

the people in the cellar, who deeply hated the Germans in a city where they had left a trail of evil, still rescued the German soldiers twice out of the goodness of their hearts.

the persecution of a Hungarian who tried to escape by forcing himself onto a train after it had started, due to persecution by Soviet soldiers, and who died in an accident so horrific that a Soviet soldier could not resist firing his gun in a gesture of pity

A father who, after successfully crossing the border with deep gratitude to his guide, eventually discovers that the French currency he exchanged all his belongings for from the guide has long been out of circulation ……

These episodes are undoubtedly sincere, as she records the cowardly selfishness behind the apparent harmony between people and the goodwill of those struggling with sin during wartime.

Even the author herself guiltily admits in the book that she was thinking about the ball and dress she might have had in such a critical time –

This kind of frank writing confesses the most subtle balance in human nature, and it can be said that behind these guilt and shame is a kind of glory that we as human beings cannot give up.

Love is the ferry that allows the soul to dwell

The young girl’s childhood came to an abrupt end at the age of fifteen, and the shadow of innocence died in the way of an adult.

She was forced to leave her innocence behind again and again, losing her emotional support, just like the puppy she could not take away from home and run away with her, even if she ran hard, she could only be left behind by the speed of the train and turned into a small black dot, never to be found again.

Several desperate experiences led her to seem to stay in all the pain of life, death and faith for a long time.

But the reader can find that in the ruins of this eternal night, there is still the beautiful light of humanity to heal her, to support her, so that she continues to be full of beautiful aspirations for truth, goodness and beauty.

Whether it is the angelic soldier Pista who died for the bride’s veil in the chaotic world, or her husband Claude who understands her and loves her deeply in the foreword, their goodness is full of love for the world, thus making the teenage Alnodi in the most difficult moment of crossing the border to remove the fear, making today’s Alnodi more brave to face their own wounds with a smile.

There is a description in the book that touched me –

“The soldiers’ songs grew louder and flew higher and higher, as if they were knocking at the gates of heaven, praying to heaven to let in those wandering souls while their bodies stayed with the cannons, stuck in the mud.”

The war-scarred souls can finally dwell in love and pass through a voyage of eternal night.

In the diary, when the young girl was looking for water, she saw a dead soldier in the ditch, whose eyes were painful and horrible, exposing the evil and darkness of the war to her in the most direct way.

At that time she was hesitant to cross the ditch, and it was the gentle Pista who carried her over.

And after Pista’s death, she had to face the dilemma in front of her alone, her heart symbolizes the good Pista gave her strength, guiding her to bravely cross over.

To me, this seems like a metaphor.

I am reminded of a poem by Pizarnik that reads.

“The gaze in the drain

Can be an illusion of the world

Rebellion is looking at a rose

Until the eyes are crushed”

Fortunately, in the midst of the eternal night there is still a gap of light that allows the young girl to witness the rose, and fortunately, even though her dream is made of the ruins of truth and beauty, she perceives it all with force, affirms the desire to live with honesty and writes about it sincerely.

What we can see is the honest breathing and writing in the ruins of that eternal night, so that the world “suspended” by violence still has a vitality that is never weak, a hope that never stops and a courage that never disappears.

Let that history continue to breathe today, years later.

Then leap through the dawn.

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