About four month ago, as November approached, and the 20th anniversary of Fall of the Berlin wall, and around it the liberation of all the East European Communist countries, one after the other, I wanted to make a speech about it. "The Iron Curtain."
The countries "behind the Iron Curtain" as they were called so by Churchill, first in 1946 speech as I remember. As I have lived there, from the end of the second wall until I was 27 years old, telling some stories of "how it was" on the other side of the curtain was important for me.
I could not find a place to speak about it, so I tried to make a Table topic subject, but not only I found that most of the Toastmasters did not know about the Fall of Berlin wall or the Iron Curtain, but I even got an angry answer from one of the club's president: "we do not make politics here!" notwithstanding that when he had given the first speech I heard from him, almost a year ago, his speech was all politics.
Then, in November, I listened to a very well delivered speech about how nice it was to be young pioneer in Ukraine, a personal story from her youth. The speaker even came with white shirt and red scarf to deliver it, proud of what she had been.
The red scarf!
Suddenly, I remembered MY personal story about red scarf, that I have remembered and added when I translated my diaries of my 15 to 17 years from Hungarian to Romanian. I'll tell my story, some scenes of that time of my life, and with it bring back some part of it.
It was decided, around the beginning of the December, but it took me almost two month to ponder how I will tell, what scene of that period to include and what to leave out.
Of course, if it was for me to write a book or speak an hour, I would have enough material now, so many scenes arose, day by day, in fact more dawn by dawn, in my mind. But I had around ten minutes maximum! My first tale told, not written, as I have renounced to write down before I tell it to my dictaphone, lasted 21 minutes and it had not all I wanted to tell.
It broke my heart to cut scenes from it! Some, that I loved so much, some that meant so much to me.
Finally, I found out, that some scenes were there for "the iron curtain" but were not necessary to be told long for the Red Scarf story. I can resume them, and perhaps, they will find place in another story, as there are now so well imagined by me. For example all the afwull night, when my father was arrested, I will tell it in a single short phrase.
I used Audacity, a free voice editing program, and cut my speech from 21 minutes to 11. Still too long, and still not the story as I wanted it. Something was not right, and I did not like the begining.
The beginning, is one of the most important part of a story, and as it was, I was telling how much I wanted to have a red scarf, me too, and asked and whas told "what socialism and communism were", all theory mostly. I did not like it, and I could not tell the story again, because I always stumbled on how to begin it, even where most of the later scenes, the Red Scarf end and middle were ready.
Today, I found it!
For three days now, I go to take my grand children from school with my gloves. So unlike me! Until I found that my unconscious mind was telling me: do begin with the gloves! Show them, speak about them! Yes, that is how I will begin.
60 years ago, I decided not to were any more gloves.
I was 15 living in Romania's where the winters are cold and last long. But I have read about that young comsomol girl who went to repair electricity in winter without gloves, to work better.
If already I cannot dye, as those of the Young Guards, another book heroes, fighting for the communism against Nazis, then at least I could accustomed my hands not to wear gloves.No, that is a too long beginning, and I'll have to find something expressing it better, yesterday evening, I did succeed to tell this part well to my grand daughter: she liked it, and it was clear and shorter. I am still not Tuesday, so I can tell it a few times, and also see how much all of the tale takes me, but I think it is a lot better beginning than speaking of the theory.
I'll be ready, when I finish school, ready if the necessity arises, to work even in winter without gloves!
This is six minutes of speech cut down from the original 21 minutes with a voice editing software, to see how short can I put it and still retain the main story. I'll have to add some words or even phrases to make it clearer.
Red scarf 6 minutes.mp3
The version, after I have added some new words to it, and it is wonderful to begin learning how to edit Voice can be find it on the side, Red scarf 6 30 m voice record
The theory part that I cut, was good for me, because it cleared to me something that was bothering me for very long time. OK, I do understood how I could believe in that ideology when I was 15 years old, but how and why did I stick to it until I was almost 21? Seven years! I have read somewhere that when we do belive in something, all facts are seen through deformed eye-glaces. But was it true? I found excuse for almost everything, as awful as it was, as sad as I become from time to time. Why? Why?
Through the story The Red Scarf, I found my answer one morning very early at dawn. I have believed in something I still do and that is important to me. Equality of chances, non discrimination, non punishing children for what background they are coming. Not killing them because of their religion, not raping them because their sex, letting have the same chance to learn to work to be free, as the others. The only problem was, I have associated all that with "Building a communist country, going to socialism, a step toward it, where every one is rewarded after his deeds, work."
Yes, it took me seven years to associate "communist country" with "tyranny" instead, but in fact the aspiration of equality of chances remained in me, did not disappear with my awakening from my dreams. All this is due to my preparation to relate s few days in my life, an incident about the Red Scarf, as I lived it.
The story is not recorded it in short, as it will be delivered, but Tuesday, or Wednesday, I'll try to add it here, as delivered. I will also have the opportunity to tell it again, perhaps a little bit modified, for a speech about "Beliefs" in an inter-religions and beliefs meeting I was invited to. And perhaps, some time, I will write down all the scenes that arrose within me again, from my 14 to 18 or even till my 27 years.
I was 27 when I arrived to the other side of the Iron Curtain and begun, only begun to understand what liberty means. When I was 15, I believed, we have to "liberate" all the capitalist countries and people in them! I have proof: my diary notes, pages full of enthusiasm and interrogation. Then, ups and downs, but it is only after the Hungarian revolution in 1956, when the little liberty of speech asked or used by young workers and intellectuals was squashed in blod by the Russian army's tanks that I wrote a note, a very sad not, "we do not believe any more, oh why not, oh, how good it would be if we still could believe!"
It is not for here, this blog, but I will translate my youth diaries in English, as I did in French, and put it in my "Diary of my Youth" blog. Now, I can, as I understand it better than a few month ago. And after I deliver the speech and speak with some of my audience, I'll also understand what they do not, what is not clear, what is really not known, tell it in a way that it can really arrive from me to them.