Ray of Hope

Amidst the doom and gloom of the House of Terror Museum in Budapest hides a ray of hope—a small room full of postcards. Some have dull finishes, others are rich and glossy, with pictures of palm trees, oases, snow-capped mountains, sky scrapers, and deserts filled with blooming cacti.

These postcards—thousands of them clipped to the walls of this small room—are postmarked from the four corners of the world. They were mailed by the refugees who fled the 1956 Hungarian Revolution—the lucky ones who found their freedom. On them are written tender words to family and friends less fortunate, those who stayed behind to brave the tough years following the revolution.

I was astonished to find this room, and I couldn’t help but tremble. I felt I was reliving my own family’s past, and I tried not to cry in this public place. These cards reminded me of the sepia ones I still have, exchanged between my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents, sharing their news from opposite sides of the world.

I peered closely at the stamps and faint ink marks and was overcome with joy. The cards had traveled across every ocean on Earth, from Canada, the United States, Italy, New Zealand, France, Britain, South America and more. They told stories of opportunity, well-paid jobs, new languages, new friendships, new climates. They asked about family, friends and lovers, about those left behind. They expressed longing for mothers and fathers missed, and told of plans to reunite and begin a new life. One overall story stood out among all of these: In the silent voice of print was the story of freedom, how it looked and dressed, how it walked and talked, how it tasted. Freedom—without fear.

Because I was forbidden to take photographs in this memorable room, I have posted here some of my family’s postcards.

About Sheila Bali

Sheila Bali, historical fiction writer, is soon to complete her novel, Swans and Cranes, based on a family’s escape from the iron grip of post–WW II Russia during the turbulent 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The book focuses on a young girl’s experiences as her family’s world is uprooted, forcing them to flee their home and country to save their lives. Sheila holds a Fine Arts Degree from Concordia University, plus two graduate degrees from McGill University in art education and special education. She now lives in San Francisco Bay Area of California and paints with colorful words. Sheila is a member of CWC Tri-Valley Branch.
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4 Responses to Ray of Hope

  1. Great post, Sheila. Keep it up.

  2. Julie Frayn says:

    Freedom without fear. That is what we all seek, no matter our backgrounds or circumstances. Beautiful post. Great picture. Old postcards and letters are fascinating.

  3. SheilaBali says:

    Thanks for taking the time to read my posts, Julie. Yes, letters, post cards, anything written on old- yellowed print seems to resurrect the past to the present.

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