The Door by Magda Szabó:
On the day of my outing Emerence arrived at dawn (much earlier than usual) to take a sleepy Viola for his walk. While I was getting ready she never left my side. She found fault with my hair, my dress, everything. My nerves were in shreds. Why was she interfering and ordering me around, as if I were off to a royal ball? As she pulled and twisted my hair, she told me she hadn’t been home since ’45, and then she went there and came straight back again on the next available train, after trading a little food for various bits and bobs. In ’44 she did spend a full week there, and didn’t enjoy it, but in those days her people were in a miserable state. Her grandfather had always been a tyrant, and the rest of her family on her mother’s side were unsettled because of the circus. “Circus,” in Emerence’s vocabulary meant national disasters – in this case the Second World War – all those situations where women become neurotic, grasping and stupid, and men go berserk and start knifing people, as happens in the wings of history’s theatre. If it had been up to her, she would have locked the youth of 1848 away in a cellar and given them a lecture: no shouting, no literature; get yourselves involved in some useful activity. She didn’t want to hear any revolutionary speeches, or she’d deal with them, every single one. Get out of the coffee houses, and back to work in the fields and factories.
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