Severed tongues and ghettos

I’ve been dreaming a lot more than usual lately. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been sleeping a lot more than usual lately, too. I have a bug and have had it for about 10 days now. It comes and goes and my voice comes and goes with it. So I’ve taken to my bed as often as I can and stayed in it for as long as possible. More sleep, more dreams. Hardly surprising.

Yet two dreams in particular stand out. And they’re topical enough for me to comment on them and to invite your interpretation.

In one, all the Jews and Roma in the city of Budapest were moving en masse into the VIIIth district. Streets leading into the district were being closed off with ornate Transylvanian gates. Those living here will know that the VIIIth is often referred to as the ghetto and that in and of itself is nothing new. In my dream, I was running around trying to convince people NOT to move. And not because I live in the VIIIth and didn’t want to be locked in – that wasn’t an issue. My argument was that they shouldn’t be locking themselves in but rather locking their accusers out. I’m still not sure I see a difference but in my dream there was one – quite a definite one.

The answers I received to my series of whys – why are you moving, why all together, why now – were the same. ‘We need to stand together and face our oppressors as a united group.’ I thought it a little too much like easy pickings – I thought of how easy it is to eradicate a problem or issue when it’s contained. When I tried to argue more, pointing to the ghettos of yore and what happened back in the 1940s, I was told repeatedly that a) I was not Hungarian; b) I was not Jewish; and c) I was not Roma so therefore I simply couldn’t understand. This still troubles me.

It could be a reflection of a conversation I had some months ago with a 30-something-year-old professional in which they asked how long I intended to stay in Budapest. I said it depended on who won the next election. They asked why. I said that I didn’t want to live in a society that elected politicians who talked of putting Jews on registers because they posed a threat to national security; I didn’t want to live in a country that seemed so openly anti-Roma in its policy (and I’m still smarting from the Azerbaijan fiasco). They couldn’t see my point. ‘Why should it bother you?’ they asked. After all, ‘you’re not Hungarian, not Jewish, not Roma – so why should it bother you who is in government? But that was a couple of months ago….

In a second dream this week, I was taking care of two children aged about 8 and 10, boy and girl. They weren’t my kids. I don’t know how I ended up minding them or who they belonged to. We seemed to be living out of the back of a truck which was nothing out of the ordinary as in my dream, buildings were all commercial and static and living accommodation transient.Life was trundling along just fine (surprising in itself!). Then both of them decided, for no apparent reason, to cut off their tongues. Which they did. No tears, no blood, no histrionics. They came to me smiling and handed over their severed tongues, each of which had two overlapping layers. I freaked on the inside but stayed calm on the outside. I found some ice, boxed up the bits, and called the ambulance, managing all this in Hungarian (aren’t dreams great!). My biggest problem was that I forgot to label the bits and couldn’t tell which tongue belonged to which child. It was this and not the cutting of tongues that was causing my angst.

I’m left wondering whether these two dreams are related – whether there is something I don’t want to say or have said – whether I am more concerned than I think about the state of the nation… Perhaps I just need less sleep.

Any thoughts?

10 Responses

  1. That is a carefully crafted recollection of your dreams. Possibly your illness may have heightened in your mind, political concerns that you have referred to in previous posts, and that clearly should be the cause for concern for all people with a balanced view of, and attitude towards their fellow travelers on this planet.
    Governments of extreme right or left persuasion rely, quite early in their rise towards what they hope to be permanent power, on creating a culture of fear to stifle critical voices. Hence the saying attributed to Martin Luther King Jr, “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about things that matter”.
    General De Gaulle expressed it another way ” Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first. Nationalism is when hatred of people other than your own, comes first”.
    It’s very easy to create such conditions, when as now in Europe, there is great economic hardship among a wide strata of society who have rarely done better than “make ends meet”. Give them a group of people to blame, especially if that or those ethnic groups have historically been the “butt” of a society, and the scene is being set for the unspeakable horrors that were unleashed across Europe 70 years ago.
    Your Hungarian friends are both right and wrong, about you not understanding or interpreting the issues correctly. In the case of the 1939 / 45 war we, that is you and I, were not resident in countries occupied by a brutally repressive force. However for centuries, your country was brutally occupied by, “wonderful fair play, honest etc etc”, Britain, my nation, I write with shame.
    Overwhelmingly though I think they are wrong, in that they are missing the whole and human point, that regardless of ethnicity, education, wealth, religious belief (or non) Being born in a particular place on this planet, and all as we undeniably have, coming from the same source, Africa should makes us one family, each with equal rights both given and received.
    The repression and or exploitation of one member of that body, degrades the whole. Keeping silence about that is, “the beginning of the end of our lives”.
    Get well soon. C.

  2. “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about things that matter”. – what a lovely quotation, Caroline, one I’d not heard before. Thanks for your comments, insightful as always. No matter what others might think, and regardless of my citizenship statues, I’ll continue to care what happens to this country, because, for the time being, Hungary is my home from home.

  3. It matters that you care Mary, not so much because Hungary is your current home, though that is important ; but because one rotten apple, can infect and destroy the whole barrel full.
    The voice of ignorance and bigotry, if not robustly denied, where ever it raises it’s ugly head, will spread insidiously, from state to state. One can only hope that in Hungary at the next election, the Hungarian people will firmly and overwhelmingly reject the the path that the present administration appears to wish to lead them. If it doesn’t, the following election may be too late.

  4. Have you ever read Colin Swatridge’s ‘A Country full of Aliens: a Briton in Hungary’ (pub. Corvina, 2005)? That makes much clear!

  5. To me your recent blogs have had an unsettled feel and perhaps this is getting reflected through your dreams……….the tongue one was very strange. I do wonder about your concerns on Hungary’s future……….you are a guest in that country, however much you love it, the Hungarian people are the ones who should be most concerned and presumably if a majority vote in the way you fear (and a way that the rest of the world should fear too) then for better or worse that is what they want………I can hardly believe that Hungarians do not understand the detail of the role their country played towards the end of WW2. I do understand that as a writer you have the means to draw attention to what is going on but I have to wonder whether your (non Hungarian) voice would be more effective and safer if it was doing so outside of Hungary.

    I wish you a speedy recovery from ‘the bug’.

    1. the voting issue is not a uniquely Hungarian issue – so many people in so many countries choose not to exercise their right to vote and that’s why we end up with the governments we have. Last election, the current ruling part got a 66% majority; but it was 66% of the 30% or so who voted, so hardly a reflection of the nation. Frustrating, but not a Hungarian-centric position.

  6. Its a missleading article, the far right party Jobbik wich proposed that nonsense idea has about 5%, and they have zero connection with other parties in Parliament, Fidesz is a conservative party and they did never proposed such ideas nor do they support it.
    I thought democracy is about what people want of course under the guidance of Constitution.
    I see that fake liberals stand for democracy only as long as it suites them, for example if you are pro life, have a faith, want a middle class in society or support at least some national sovereignty you are “EVIL” that “wrong is right” “down is up” “ignorance is bliss” mentality already destroyed the western world, the economy is in ruins everywhere and not because of the people but because of fractional reserve banking system run by the globalist banxter elite wich creates massive artificial scarcity.
    Its also “funny” that megacorps share their massive losses with the taxpayers yet they “forget” to share their profits.
    So with all due respect if you think that we arent democratic enough for your standards, I guess You move to the US. the ultimate police state, where 30.000 domestic drones will guard the sky, where are TSA screens, VIPR checkpoints, where the Reinforced Patriot Act and the Bill of Rights have been suspended, and where you can simply dissapear into a black hole because some “officials” not servants “officials” just point a finger, while invading half the world chasing “bad” people who are run by themselves, have fun there.
    all the best.

    1. “where the Reinforced Patriot Act and the Bill of Rights have been suspended”
      I meant that the US. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were suspended by the Reinforced Patriot Act and NDAA, not my native language sorry.

    2. mmmm… I didn’t think for a minute that I was attacking democracy in any way. As for Jobbik – at the end of last year, they had 8% support and 43 MPs out of 386 but of more concern is the 20% support then have from the youth vote. As for zero connection, even in my idealised world, that’s a little hard to believe. Thanks for dropping by – always good to get another opinion.

  7. Your personal safety concerns me, perhaps it doesn’t feel as if the situation has reached that stage. But be careful, have an exit strategy, and make certain that friends you know you can trust, always know where you are, and who you are with. Watch your back at all times.
    In the direction the present Hungarian Government is heading, it and it’s supporters won’t be too squeamish about curbing the the voice of a foreign dissident. Even one with an American and an Irish Passport.
    Wait till May, and they can have a go at us both !!
    I hope I’m joking but, “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about thing’s that matter”.
    Hope you are feeling better. C

Talk to me...

%d bloggers like this:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information on cookies and GDPR

Cookies and GDPR Compliance

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

General Data Protection Regulation

If you have voluntarily submitted your email address so that you can receive notifications of new posts, please be assured that I don't use your address for anything other than to do just that - and that's done automatically. I might use your address, if I knew how to, but I don't.

This blog does not make money, it does not carry sponsored content, it has no ads for which I receive any form of payment. If I review a place or a restaurant or a book, I don't receive any compensation from anyone. I wish I did, but that would require marketing myself and life is too short. If something changes, I will be sure to let you know.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe or manage subscription links at the bottom of every email you receive. When you comment on a blog post, Google Analytics tracks where you're posting from. This is stored and I can check my stats to see how many clicks I had today, where people clicked from, and what they clicked on. That's it. Nothing more.

I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, particularly to other commenters. If you want to have one of your comments deleted, the please get in touch with me at: I'm all for the right to be forgotten so will happily oblige.

So, in a nutshell, if you give me your email address voluntarily to subscribe to new posts or if you opt to subscribe to new comments, then you email is just used for this. Nothing else. Promise.