Happy heavenly 98th birthday to my favorite writer, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn!
Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a few lines after last week’s, when Imre asked Csilla if she’d like to light a chanukiyah too. Csilla thinks he’s bought her one as a present, but her guess is only half-right.
Chanukah 1945, DP camp in Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany (Source)
The chanukiyah she withdrew from the bag was none other than her family’s old chanukiyah, which her mother had bought from an upscale shop when she was away at university in Budapest in 1911. It was made of fused glass of a rainbow of colors resembling a patchwork quilt, with sterling silver candle holders. Some wax from Chanukah 1943 was still on it, an eternal reminder of what once had been.
Csilla couldn’t help but wonder if Hungarian Jewry would’ve made it to the end of the war still as intact as possible had Horthy not decided to break his alliance with Germany. It would probably be a forever unanswered question, just as she sometimes wondered what might’ve happened had the Allies bombed the train tracks and the camps.
“Now I like you more than before.” Csilla put her free arm around him. “I’d prefer if you hadn’t risked your life and liberty to break into the house and dig up those valuables, but I’m so happy you were able to recover some of my things. There’s less of a hole in my heart now.”
Csilla set the chanukiyah on the table and filled the holders with orange candles.
One of many fused glass chanukiyot made by legendary Judaica artist Tamara Baskin
Imre and his sister Júlia weren’t smuggled out of Soviet-controlled Hungary with the others because Imre was determined to dig up Csilla’s valuables and take revenge on the gendarme who tortured her and moved into her house after her family were deported.
Imre found the valuables, along with a sled in a dark corner, but he also ran into a lot of trouble with the gendarme. Though Imre has always been a lover instead of a fighter, he couldn’t control himself for long, and began violently beating the gendarme in a white-hot rage. During the altercation, he accidentally punched a brick wall with his left hand (his dominant hand), and broke every bone in that hand and wrist.
Imre has been giving her back her recovered valuables one at a time, so Csilla will have many more surprises to look forward to. She doesn’t yet know he indeed found everything on the list she gave him.