Kitchen, unpainted concrete floor. Woodstove. Two single beds, table, and mismatched chairs. Aluminum washbasin. Bare light bulb on ceiling.
Milk boiling in a blue tin pot. The sound of grinding almonds. I sat near grandmother Kisanyuka and began to ask questions. She was preparing palacsinta, a Hungarian crêpe. Cotton apron worn over a housedress, chunky flat shoes, head scarf tied under the chin. Wooden spoon. And white trumpet-shaped flowers that inhabit a refugee kitchen: Mix eggs with flour. Add milk and water. Fry crêpe in lard in long handled skillet. Spread lekvár (prune butter) or ground nuts and roll up. Serve with powdered sugar.
“Mikor jön vissza az anyám?” I said. “Kisanyuka, when will my mother come back home?”
My mother Magda attempted suicide, at the mere age of thirty, when I was ten years old. Easter Sunday, 1952.