BORNEMISZA PÉTER GIMNÁZIUM, Általános Iskola, Alapfokú Művészeti Iskola és Sportiskola
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Hack Petra: Silence
2011.07.12.
The bell blared piercingly in the classroom. Richmond High School, thirdperiod literature-exam. Writea story abouta fictional character. Place: Europe. Era: World War II.Nick looked on the blank pages knowing that he had to fill them with something in the following two hours. He took his pen and gazed out of the window. He tried to brainstorm but nothing came to his mind. A sudden breeze moved the leaves on the tree near the window. But Nick didn't see green leaves anymore, only withered, brown ones swinging on the tree, foreshadowing the winter.

   The streets in Budapest, where Nick’s great grandpa had grown up, were filled with people rushing to their workplaces. Nick recently seen a picture of the Hungarian city in the late 1920's.  In his imagination a young boy with a yellow star crossed the street aware that his “sheriff star” mustbe displayed all the time. As his father had taught him to keep the law at any circumstances.  Nick called the 15-year-old Jewish boy Péter.

  Nick blinked and returned to the reality, of his high school desk only sound heard in the class was the scribbling of the pens. Afterwriting the introduction, Nick went back to his fantasy world.

   Péter had to hurry to get home before the curfew.Hesaw how people were preparing for the night.At home, after dinner, he had a quick wash and immediately went to bed. His thoughts were swirling like willow branches torn by the wind. He was pondering why they had to wear the yellow Star of David, thinking it would have beenbetter if everything was asit had been before the new administration. His Dad was an engineer, his mother a homemaker, and he himself a prominent student at school. His family had emigrated from Germany 60 years before.

    The days of the Jewish Community were quietfor some time, but this was only the silence before the storm. Ghettoizing the Jews had already started. But Péter had no idea what was going on in Budapest. He had been sent to stay with his grandmother in the countryside, and had been there for two month and he’d been homesick for some days. Now he was standing at their front door thrilled. He pushed the bell. The rattle of a key in the lock answered his ring.
A stranger opened the door.”What do you want?” she asked suspiciously. ”Excuse me. I'm looking for my parents. Actually, we lived here two months ago.” The woman gave him the once-over and then her eyes restedon the yellow-starfor a split second. Her eyes glinted irately and her face hardened. ”Look for them in the ghetto,  I'm sure they  know each other there.”-She rather spat the word “they”. Then she slammedthe door. Péter was appalledby this revelation of human infamy.
    “Ghetto”. This word was in his mind all the way there. Hehad heard this word before. He had read in his history book once, that in the Middle Ages a ghettowas created in Venice, Italy. Its purpose was to move the Jews  to one specific district of the city. “People wouldn't go back to the Middle Ages, the false conceptions and ideologies of that time.” But he was wrong. They'd already done so.

    The area seemed to be a ghost town. Streets were filled with the smell of the death. There was nobody in the ghettoexcept rats. Deportations had started two weeks before Péter entered the houses, horrified, searching for some signs of life. The stench was even worse in the houses. And there was no chance to escape from it. All the rooms wore the marks of suffering. The atmospherebore the memory of hunger and tears.

    He was in the upper storey of a house when he heard some voices. He rushed to the window,  saw soldiers onthe street and at that second heard the sound of heavy stepsapproaching. He instinctivelyran toward the steps leading up to the attic. The loft was algid and echoed badly. He had to watch out because the old wooden floor was creaking with everystep he made.
    The sound of military boots was coming from the second floor already. Péter didn't dare to move. The soldier saw the stairs leading to the attic and was on his way up. Péter had no time to think. He ran to the window on the roof. The dry, rottenwood cried out at every step. He was already outside on the top of the building. Hearing the sounds, the soldier hurried to get to the loft. By the time he was upstairs, the loft was empty.

   Péter huddled upon the rooftop. His brain was working furioslyto figure out a getaway plan. He was creeping alone the edge of gutter in fear of being observed. The service-capped head of the soldier appeared. Péter jumped up impulsively and ran on the roof as far from thesoldier as possible, but he caught sight of him. Péter wobbledon the edge, then he jumped to the roof of the next house with courage that defied death. Thenhe ran like mad...

  Finally, Péter looked back and saw that no one was behind him, he was out of the ghetto district. He dropped from the roof to the first ledge. From there he could carefully slip down to a balcony nearby. He tried to get into the apartment but the glass door wouldn’t move. He was trying the door and almost gave up when it opened. The next moment he was inside the living room. The light was on in the kitchen, and a couple's silhouette was visible throughthe frosted glass. They spoke quite seldom and the silence was dangerous for Péter. The man asked a question from his wife, who answered with an entire flow of words and then she started to cough. While she was coughing, Péter could open the door and in a second he was out of the flat.A draftopened a door at the end of the corridor.Hefound himself on a staircase.

   He grabbed the cool metal banister with one hand. At the top of the stairs  he found another door. It was almost completely stuck. With some work it surrendered with an ear-splitting creak . Péter froze for a second, and cocked his ears, but no one noticed it.  The door led to the loft of the house and Péter could find a hidden corner where he could cower. He collapsed on the floor exhausted. What a difference a few hours could make! It was only that morning when he rose from under the warm eiderdown and shuffled out to the sun-drenched kitchen and cut big slices from grandma's special tipsy cake.

   Péter couldn't stay awake to process the events of the day.  Though hungry, he was overcame by sleep.  So what he could not think over discreetly by day, his brain processedin his dream, living through the events again. He was running and running on the rooftops, with an entire troop chasing him. He stood on the ledge, while his grandmother was standing on the street with a slice of milk-loaf and a cup of coffee in her hands calling his name. People were leaning out of the windows and houses, yelling at him. The couple whose flat he had escaped through was pointing at him from their balcony. A Nazi plane was approaching him and the soldiers, with weapons in hand, surrounded him on the rooftops. He had no other choice so he darted to lop himself down to the darkness... Péter kicked once in his dream and it woke him from his nightmare. His heart pounded heavily and his head throbbed. It was 5 o'clock in the morning. Now he heard soft steps on the stairs, and tried to hunched up. A girl enteredand whispered: ”Hey, Jewish boy. Come out!” No answer. ”Don't be afraid! I brought you some breakfast.” Péter just couldn't resist the offer.

  The young girl had round, friendly brown eyes, and was holding a tray in her hands, with aslice of bread and a jar of milk on it. “I saw you slinking yesterday. You shouldn't have kept your star while running away. It's too conspicuousand dangerous”-she said. Then paused for a moment while giving the tray to Péter, and then talked on.”I was sure that you would be hungry. I hope you like it.” Péter said nothing, but his eyes expressed more than words could say. He tucked the bread away withintwo minutes.

   The girl had accidentally left the door open when going up on the stairs and a lady in the neighborhood, who loved to eavesdrop, heard that the boy was a Jew. She was a fanatic patriot, so she went to the local police station to report  the runaway Jew. 

  The soldiers were on their way to swoop down on the defenseless boy who had just fallen  into a peaceful slumber. He was dreaming about his parents...Heavy steps woke him up.

 Minutes later, he was surroundedby soldiers with loaded guns, who then dragged him to the closest square. Everything happened sofast. They were in the middle of a crowd. In the chilly wind Péter was forced to kneel down. He was stricken by the sudden realization: “ I will die.”     He didn't understand why. Being murdered as a Hungarian citizen on a squareof the capital city, in the midst of fellow Hungarians without even having a trial – it was so unjust, so impossible to comprehend.
   The Jewish melody rose from his lips. “Sh'ma Israel, Ádonaj Elohejnu.Ádonáj échád...” A traditionalsong sung as a prelude to death.

    His clear childish voice was the only sound heard in the crowd on that foggy morning. The wind took up and carried his voice above the city. The last note was the trenchant sound of a gunfire that put an end to the song. It resounded for some time. The onlookers were still silent. No one even whispered. When it was over and the fifteen-year-old teenager was lying on the pavement dead, they started to furl away, forgetting the young Jewish boy, who hadn't even lived a quarter of his life. Hungary lost a would-be outstanding citizen and a life of great value. An irreplaceable life had been destroyed. Those left standing in the square remained silent. And the shadow of impassiveness descended the silent city.

   Nick finished his essay when the bell rang. He went out of the classroom into the Richmond sunlight. The words of Elie Wiesel – a Nobel Peace Prize winner and holocaust survivor-sounded in his mind: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Silence is acceptance!”



Vélemény:

Kedves Szerkesztő!

Hack Petra Silence-című novellájától el vagyok ragadtatva! Nem csak a színvonala, de a témája is egy életkorhoz viszonyítva megdöbbentően felnőttes jellemre vall. Csak így tovább!
 
Kazai Kriszti
Publikálta: Diósy Anna
© 2010 Bornemisza Péter Gimnázium