The Brightest Shadow of All
Gödöllő is filled with ghosts. Ghost’s that cast shadow and light in unequal measure. These ghosts have voices, voices of the past that speak in familiar and foreign tongues.
Walk into this world and listen to fluent Hungarian being spoken. It is intermixed with broken Hungarian words, spoken with a clipped Germanic accent. Between kisses and caresses, a minister and a queen cast a spell over one another.
They intimately converse in a violet room that consumes them much like their love. Sissi and Andrassy, queen and count speak mostly in a third tongue, the one that speaks of love. He would die eight years before she was assassinated, but they live forever in these moments.
Now we hear Romanian followed by the dead drop thud of boots. It is 1919, the Red revolutionaries have fled. Soldiers pour into a parlor room. They dismantle the remnants of imperial rule one piece of porcelain at a time.
They turn from liberators to looters in a matter of moments. The former servants of an empire serve themselves with the fine china of a fallen empire. They leave scars, but the impression fades much like their presence, fleeting and ephemeral.
It is swept away by an Admiral on a white horse. He was an Admiral without a fleet. A regent for a kingdom without a king, head of a monarchy that no longer existed. This was history as paradox, the age of Miklós Horthy.
For a quarter century he ruled over the rump of a once grand kingdom, but even this was not to be. The last vestiges of royalty were banished once and for all by an ill wind from the east. This land was taken as much by ideology as by men.
Now Slavic men have reconquered the land in the name of the peasant, proletariat and of tyranny. In the stables they store petrol. They have already painted the countryside with liquid flame. Will the palace be next?
Somehow Gödöllő escapes wholesale destruction, only to suffer degradation. The rust sets in over the next four and a half decades, hundreds of rooms are abandoned. Chandeliers no longer sparkle even when they are polished with spit. History is sometimes vindictive, but it is also dynamic.
Another ideology, another conqueror, this time called capitalism. It’s what makes the chandeliers still sparkle and Gödöllő glitter once again. But it’s the ghosts that glow brightest of all.
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