Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It's time to admit it my dear Hungarian Conductors. That Disney On Ice poster that disappeared from the one of the doors at the Peto Institute 25 years ago ended up folded in my cabinet. Not that anybody cared or even noticed it being gone, but still.  When I was away for the weekend, the other kids ripped it off and put it there, because, well, they knew I really wanted to have one. Not that it was of any use after, and I felt really guilty about even touching it. I remember the scene vividly. I was walking in my braces and with sticks on Monday morning  with my mom facing me for safety when one of the boys, Feri, who was ambulatory came up to tell me what they had done. My mom didn't understand Hungarian but she knew something was up. So I  translated it for her, limiting my involvement in the whole thing as much as possible. That was the funny thing. I could never lie to her. She would always know when something was up just by looking at me. It was as if she would pierce right through me and see through my soul. I'd always confess anything that was bothering me by volunteering some information and feel relieved right after. But that was the funny thing about Hungary. My mom didn't speak the language, I did. For once she had to rely on me for something. I would talk to somebody and she just waited for me to explain what the conversation was about. The punchline, the story, the criticism. Yes, sometimes a Conductor would come up having something negative to say and it was for me to translate. I remember my mom looking uncomfortable and nervous waiting for me to explain. I had to be there to connect the dots.  I remember even translating jokes about the Soviets that at age of eight I did not understand. In my age group I believe I was  the oldest. The other kids looked up to me, listened to me and  yes, there were times we'd get in trouble. And I think of it with great fondness. It's very easy to think of kids with disabilities as little angels all of the time that do nothing but exercise all day and just lay there without energy. I'd be the first one to say, first and foremost we were children. And kids get into all kids of trouble because that's what kids do. The Peto Institute at times felt like a giant playground. I'd still remember how on weekend when  my parents could not pick me up some boys crawled off their plinths which doubled as our beds and started to wrestle each other on the floor. We've had our secrets, our schemes and our dealings. Oh yes... Life was much simpler then.

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