Decades ago, a young girl travelling alone

Posted: September 6, 2018 in Musings

Wise friend,

You’ve asked me repeatedly when I went to Budapest, for the first time.

When I was ten years old, my mum sent me to Budapest to visit the few relatives we had. They found a couple of acquaintances going on the same trip to look after me; it was acceptable during those times. The train carriage was full. It was a twelve hour trip. Suddenly the train stopped, the lights went on, and I heard doors slammed open. Two custom officers (for some reason I remember them as soldiers) showed up at the door of our carriage. They looked around, stared at each passenger’s face, and then they pointed their hands to me, and said: “You young lady, which one is your luggage?”

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I was trembling. I was a good girl, always believing that I must have done something wrong and I never knew what. This time I believed the same. I showed them the luggage. They took it off, and in front of everybody they opened it and rummaged through it all. I blushed as red as a beet root, as I would always would. They found nothing.

Since then, whenever I’ve travelled, I’ve blushed in advance, and the customs officers, without exception touch me on my shoulders, rummage through my luggage, and scan my body. By now, I’m indifferent. I’m ready.

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