So there once was a man from Italy, who lived across the street from a Hungarian expat from WWII. She was an extraordinary person, who ended up one of the last at Auschwitz with her sister, mother and family. At the end of the war, she walked out of the concentration camps, while the rest of her family did not.
She shared her stories with the boy across the lane, hired him to work at their restaurant in Milan, and then after many years of them working side by side together, the woman asked the boy if he would like to return to Hungary with her, to visit the land where all her storied came from.
And he did. He stayed in her family home once a year in the summer for a week or two, and started to pick up the language. He would go back to his high school studies in Milan, preparing to become a nurse, yet never forgot his love of Hungary and would always return during the summers for his vacation.
Then he decided he needed to practice his Hungarian more, and he put an ad, with the help of his Jewish friend, into a popular Hungarian magazine, searching for students of Italian language in Hungary willing to exchange letters. He would learn Hungarian and the Hungarian student would learn Italian in return. It was a fabulous idea, if only it worked.
To his surprise, many people responded, so many in fact that his sister kept track of them all in a black book, just to keep straight the dozens of letters received each week.
She listed them by name, along with their photo and the basic information for him to reference them easily.
He responded to all the letter, but very quickly the stack became smaller, and many people lost interest in their new Italian pen pal. Sometimes he didn’t like their politics and other times they didn’t like him very much as well. Either way, he narrowed his pen pals down to three very attractive ladies in first year of high school, all taking Italian class and a couple years younger than him. The funny thing, he didn’t plan it that way but not a single boy replied to his ad.
Months carried on much the same, and the three ladies were very intent on the connection and the boy as their own, and they made it quite clear that they expected to move to Italy one day. I guess in communist Hungary that it seemed a good escape route as any. Nevertheless, the boy was not devious, in fact, he loved Hungarians, and he slowly mastered the language, which was always his true intent.
Then a stray letter arrived, months after the magazine circulation had finished. A girl in Hungary was cleaning out her grandmother’s fireplace, saw the ad, and decided to write to the boy.
The boy received the letter and started to write to her. She wrote far more often than the other girls, as she really wanted to learn Italian.
When the boy scheduled his yearly outing to Hungary, he decided to meet the four girls and looked on a map to see who was closest to his friend’s family home.
He walked to the house of the last girl first, and knocked at the door without letting them know he was coming.
Her little sister said, “Your pen pal is here.” She said “Oh sure he his!” Sure as heck he was. They were so nervous and cute, trying to talk to each other for the first time yet already being so familiar. Young love can be so painfully sweet.
Then he asked if she wanted to come with him to the other pen pals house. In good humor, she said, sure why not. However, it was clear after meeting the other girls, that he liked her the most and her him.
Within a year, they became engaged. During her last year of school, the girl asked for a visa permitting her to leave Hungary to visit her boyfriend. After many tries, each time they denied her a visa. The government thought she would never return.
She went to a seminar for her Italian class and the prime minister happened to be in Hungary and wanted to see how the Hungarians were learning Italian in high school. It was unscheduled and he unexpectedly showed up.
After his speech, our girl bravely went up to him and stated her case. “Sir, I don’t know if you can help me, but I have an Italian boyfriend for over two years, and he is going off to the army for one year and I would like to visit him before he goes. No one will give me a visa, even though my sister, mother and father are here and I would always return to them. By the time she finished her story she was in tears. She was small in stature, although there was a determination in her that struck the man.
He said, “What is your name child?” After she answered he continued, “I don’t know if I can help you, but I promise I will look in to it either way. And off went the Prime Minister. She thought, well that was embarrassing; I just made a fool of myself in front of the entire class.
The next week the visa appeared in the mailbox.
The boy was sent off to the army before they could marry properly and decided to have a civil ceremony in Italy and she then went home to Hungary to wait the year. They continued to pen pal during that year. It was the unfolding of a beautiful love story.
She was getting her marriage license at the local Budapest city hall, just before he would arrive for their church wedding in Budapest with his family and hers, and all their friends after his year was up. In the office, the women behind the counter called out her name, “Mrs. Boy, please come to obtain your marriage certificate. Another girl in the crowd, excuse me but are you The Boys wife? And she said yes, who are you. I am his pen pal trying to get to Italy. “Oh yah?” She said, “Well you’re too late, I won!”
Now they have been married for 40 years, have two children and live in Milan. I had the opportunity to meet them, as my mom was in class with the girl and they reconnected through Face book.
Is this not the best love story?
Meeting the Italian man who willingly learned Hungarian, to me is truly amazing. Most Hungarians leave Hungary and forget their native tongue.
I see this as a screenplay and a true story no less. Would you go to this movie?