18 March 2011

August 1968

Nightime, I am woken by voices and creep downstairs. My parents are sitting on the low wicker sofa in the little holiday home on the Danish coast. There is something wrong about their postures, huddled forward, hands clenched, tears on my mother's face as they listen to the voice on the radio. A male voice, a man somewhere in a radio station cubicle, maybe with a steaming mug of tea or coffee next to the piece of paper he reads from about Prague and demonstrations and Russian tanks and uprising and bloodshed and more and more words that make my mother cry out, while my father tries to comfort her: they won't come here, now, now, don't worrry, we are all safe.

I climb into my sister's bed and we cannot make sense of this. The next morning, after breakfast  we are off to collect shells on the beach, my parents hiding behind their sunglasses reliving their war time traumas in the midst of this perfectly ordinary family outing. Two young vulnerable people trying, all the time trying their best to move on.


  1. Oh, man. It must have been this way for a lot of people. (And still be, for that matter.)

    Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
    lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
    lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale

  2. It was too hard for her at times.