“A man’s house burns down. The smoking wreckage represents only a ruined home that was dear through years of use and pleasant associations. By and by, as the days and weeks go on, first he misses this, then that, then the other thing. And when he casts about for it he finds that it was in that house. Always it is an essential — there was but one of its kind. It cannot be replaced. It was in that house. It is irrevocably lost. It will be years before the tale of lost essentials is complete, and not till then can he truly know the magnitude of his disaster.” – Mark Twain
The 20s. City of Piteşti. The house of the Laslo family was a big one, with many rooms, each of them hosting numerous objects. The “pleasant associations” could be made not only with the home as one, but with every room in part.
An oil bucket. A match. An enormous evilness. A great hate. This four things were needed to burn the house from the ground. Who did it? A man which not that it didn’t had at his hearth, but detestes, hated the hungarian people, and the members of the Laslo family were, in the acception of this bastard, four “damned magyars”.
The smoke comes out from the roof. The flames embrace the boards. The house is on fire. The members of the Laslo family can only look desperate how their home is reduced to matchwood and ash. On their time, you just couldn’t stop an arson.
Of course, in the interwar Piteşti, there were no hydrants, and the firemen didn’t stepped by: the days of heroism like those on the Spirii Hill had long gone by (1). The only apparent chance to save a building on fire was to bring water by a bucket from a lake or a river, but such an attempt proves, in the end, its futility: not even the legs of a desperate man can make the road from the Argeş river back tens of times.
After the fire extinguished, nothing remained, only the piles of a ruined house. When some remains on the streets, the first thing he desires is a roof above his head. He doesn’t have it. Then, he looks at what he had left: to Ştefan, Maria, Ana and Elisa Laslo, the only thing they remained with was a cup of tea, a spoon and the cloths they had on them.
The days pass and he begins to miss his bed, table, chair, fireplace, cabinet with supplies….. the weeks pass and he begins to feel the nostalgia of those wonderful times, when he had the treasury full, he could invite his friend on Christmas, in a house decorated with tinsel and offer them gifts…..
The months pass and, struggling to gather penny with penny, come days when he doesn’t have anything to eat or to drink, crying after the times when his table was filled with dishes and he didn’t need to worry about money….
The years pass and, finally, after he passed what was worst, he begins to remember the paintings with his family, the books from the library, the objects inherited from ancestors, all destroyed in flames, and only then he realizes that….. what he lost it can never be recovered….
4 April 1944. Bucharest. A plane. A bomb. A pilot. A mission. (2) This four things were needed to make dust the house of the Vişan-Miu husbands, Ion and his wife, Elisa, born Laslo. Twice, my grandmother lost with home, with everything which was in it….
It seems that the story of lost essentials doesn’t end, but follows someone until the end of life thread story, the one with beginning and end…..
Note: (1) The resistance on Dealul Spirii (Spirii Hill) took place on 13 September 1848, during the 1848 Wallachian Revolution, being led by a fireman division in Bucharest against Ottoman troops sent to quell the rebells.
(2) The bombing of Bucharest on 4 April 1944 was one of the most damaging military catastrophe suffered by Romania during the entire World War II. Carried out by Allied aviation, more exacly, 313 American pilots, it led to the death of 2942 Romanians and the injury of 2126.