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Kati and I

(The following is an excerpt from Chapter 36 of Red Danube.  My  good friend Kati and I were in our pre-teen years at the time).

So very little happened in our daily lives that I wonder how we (Kati and I) found so much to talk about. We hardly ever went to the movies or to any shows and never to a restaurant. Occasionally, the school took us on an excursion.

We did not have any other friends and there was no TV, computers or computer games, no mobile phones; hardly even any toys or books. But, there were always boys. 

We spent a lot of time daydreaming about the husbands we would have. I had reluctantly given up on Jancsi. Both Kati and I decided we’d marry a Péter – we liked the name. And one of us discovered that the name originated from the Greek petros, which means rock, and we thought how strong and secure a rock would be to have around as a husband. And Peter sounded good in English, in Russian it became Pyotr or Petya and we liked that, too. In Italian it changed to a romantic Pietro. And the French Pierre was something to die for! A few years later we both married Péters (and a few more years later, we both divorced them).

We discussed our classmates. What they looked like and, even though their clothes were as drab and uninteresting as our own, what they wore. We repeated what other girls had said to us – about the boys who were (or were not) interested in any of them, how well did they do at school, and whether they were nice. At the end of these discussions, we invariably came to the conclusion that no matter how attractive or pleasant other girls might have been, we were going to be friends for ever, because none of them were as good as us.

Well, by the time we were 13-14 Kati and I started changing into our adult selves – two very different people. I left Hungary in 1956, and returned there in 1968-9 with my husband, and Kati and I met up, but we found little in common. My next trip to Hungary was in 1995, I was too scared to look for her in earnest. On my following visit I noticed her in the phone book, and it took another friend's insistent urgings for me to call Kati. Finally, on the eve of my departure back to Australia with much laughing, hugging and crying, we got together for a couple of hours. That was after nearly 40 years!  By that time we both had families and were divorced from our respective husbands. I did return to Hungary soon after that so we could spend a few weeks together.  It was understood, and needed no discussion, that I would stay at Kati's place while in Budapest.  She shopped, cooked, drove us around the country while I reacquainted myself with my birth country and did some research for Red Danube.  

To be continued:  ISRAEL, Old Jerusalem


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