10 months 5 days ago by a2b2
The longer you beat the man with the hammer, the more your nerves refuse to work and you are turned into an object without any feeling at all. Nothing could be more terrible. Not long ago, I was taken to a jail in Budapest. I had decided to write a spy story from the inside. There were many long nights, a lot of vodka and strong coffee. I did not know the country, the language, the people, the rules and they did not want to let me in. I had no rights, no papers, no identity card. I was a stranger in a strange land, and in this strange land I was an alien without any status or connection to any other person.
A day came when the man responsible for me suddenly decided to show me to a cell in the second floor of the jail. To my great surprise, I saw that one of the prisoners was the famous writer Ervin Eken. They locked us into a cell together. I had only heard about him.
For months, we worked on the novel we were writing, telling each other the stories we had dreamt up. That writer's eyes were not well; he could not see much. I taught him how to read, and the famous writer taught me how to write. We communicated almost entirely through our mind, one from darkness and one from light, and we became friends very quickly.
Each time I thought we were going to be locked up for longer, the jail authorities came to release us, or gave us just a few hours. He was locked up for three months. We were now tied up together in that cell with no light, no window and no way of seeing out.
Then, one night, I heard him shouting at the door, for there were people who wanted to speak to him. They said he had to meet someone very important that night and he had to leave immediately. I was looking at the dark face of a friend and I also wanted to leave the cell. The other prisoners gave me a secret signal to follow my friend's instructions and we left the cell. I walked, exhausted and broken, toward the door.
But when I walked to the door, I saw a pale, dishevelled figure sitting at the window. I knew it was the writer. "You are trying to betray me," he said with a pained look in his eyes, "but we will keep this between ourselves."
We talked a little, about nothing in particular, and then he locked me in the cell and left. I was so tired, so frightened, so exhausted.
"What can I do?"
"Make yourself at home," he answered. "I am not going to leave you. I want you to survive. I will come back for you, every day and every night."
This will not do, I thought to myself. I have lost one of my friends in the dead of night. I felt completely alone, even in a jail cell, but I decided to follow his instructions and hide. I felt so scared, I could not breathe. What could have happened? Where were they? Why was he taking me somewhere? I had no idea. I was looking for an answer and suddenly, suddenly, there he was, at the end of my cell.
"Are you okay?" he asked, and I nodded, not daring to speak.
"Now you have to be patient," he said. "The country is being divided and we have no guarantees."
We were in the final round, the final battle. He was going to give up his home, his career and his freedom for the sake of our freedom. I had no choice. I was ready.
Then suddenly, I could not breathe. I was so tired. I had no strength left. The room had become so dark, so cold, that I was afraid I would not wake up when he came to take me home. It seemed like he was not coming. My life seemed to be over.
Then, suddenly, I was so terrified, I forgot how to breathe, and I was so cold that I could not feel my hands and I had to take a huge step to climb the walls to my feet. But I was finally there, in his arms, not for one moment in doubt. I felt a huge feeling of gratitude, a feeling I can only describe as gratitude. Thank you, God, I thought, but I also felt that I had been living my whole life in a dark room with no light and no window.
He picked me up, and I was not afraid of him at all. I knew, absolutely, that he would never do anything to hurt me.
That was the end of my incarceration. The writer returned to his home and became famous. He was tired, he had lost his vision, and he was also terribly depressed. But his years of imprisonment were a blessing. It gave him a chance to read and to write more than ever before. It had shown him the love of his fellow prisoners, and his determination, and perhaps it had softened his soul. I am not sure. He never spoke about it.
Whatever was the case, I am sure that it made me realize that we can fight, even when things seem hopeless and the path ahead seems dark and all signs point to defeat. When all seems lost, we can make a different decision and change our fate. When he made that decision, I made my decision. And in the end, the story I set to write became became the true story of my life.