By Luisa Lang Owen
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Extra info for Casualty of War: A Childhood Remembered (Eastern European Studies, 18)
And as if something is returned to me, I feel affirmed, strong, abundant, generous even with my rage. When Johann asks me to find the house we shared with forty others, I tell him with savage candor, “You want to know where our house is? Fix your eyes on that field. There is our house. ” The yellow Mercedes passes the place of the Komandno Mesto, now stripped of its enclosing walls, buildings razed, a more recent two-story import squatting among tall grasses where the offices used to be. We make a left turn and I scan the left side of the street.
Johann tries to help me out with words, but no one needs an explanation. The circle in the side yard is closed at eight, all of us silent. I know it is still hot enough not to shiver, but I feel naked in my sleeveless tee-shirt. Someone is wiping tears. It looks and feels like a wake. There are no prayers. Eta hands me a blue and white short-sleeved sweater. Johann and Lisel leave. It is a long way to Subotica; they will not get there till dark. All night at Lisi néni’s house I toss and turn. I want to go back .
It also made me sad, and it filled me with longing. Later, when I could already walk, I would recall this first feeling any time I saw an article of my mother’s clothing or discovered things that belonged to her. Some early memories were predominantly sensuous: the feel of warm water rolling over me at regular intervals, waiting for it in anticipation, listening to the soft wooden sounds of the tub; the smell of my father’s skin and the reassuring sound of his voice; the milky green color of furniture; a circular walker with two wooden rings, one encircling me under my armpits, not allowing me to sit down, the other making a wide circle around my feet, connecting me to a seamless motion over the surface of a yellow ceramic floor with hexagonal tiles.