A CHANCE TO BE BORN
Novel (Corvina), 2012, 192 pages
The most natural thing in the world also involves the most difficult decision of our lives. A long line of hopes, plans, doubts and question marks follow each other until a child enters a woman’s life. Often, this moment makes us wait for it for a long time – sometimes for years, sometimes forever. More and more often, mothers planning children find it difficult to identify with the thought of motherhood. Though they experience this special, inimitable feeling in their dreams, they often back off when their chance really comes.
Csilla, the heroine of the novel, has toyed with the idea of becoming a mother many times. And yet, the abyss between her wishes and reality widens with time. Unexpected turns of events, spells of uncertainty, looking for her real aim in life – these act as so many impediments preventing her from making a decision. She knows in her heart that her as yet unborn child is waiting for her somewhere, and she records her thoughts and feelings in letters addressed to it. She shares her wavering emotions about having a child with disarming honesty – feelings that most would-be mothers share with her but are reluctant to admit, even to themselves. Though they are meant for the baby waiting in Csilla’s imagination, these letters hold a mirror up to the reader. Every man and woman waiting for a child, every would-be parent who understands the real values of the parental role, will recognize themselves as they read, while those who are bringing up children will feel a sense of relief knowing that they are not alone with their fears and doubts.
In her letters, Csilla writes about the plans of her teenage years, the enthusiasm of her twenties, and her thoughts and feelings as she became a mature woman. Throughout, the wish to become a mother is in her thoughts, but she openly reveals the impediments that hold her back. She would not like to fall into a trap after she finds a man, because her partner must be one with whom the word “family” will retain its true meaning. Sometimes she thinks she has found him, but with time she realizes that her True Partner is still waiting for her somewhere.
At last, the man who can fill the void in her life is standing by her side. Only a newborn baby is missing from the perfect harmony she craves. However, they are a sober-minded couple and don’t want the child until they have created all the conditions for it. This, however, springs another trap: the work stretching into the night, the unceasing chasing after a career and livelihood and the stress pose a grave danger to their relationship. As a consequence, the thought of motherhood recedes into the back of Csilla’s mind, who is afraid that a child would bring an end to her few precious moments together with her husband, Adam.
When she considers motherhood again, she remembers the boy in her family who was born with a handicap. She is terrified at the thought that the same thing might happen to them. Would she have the strength to sacrifice everything for the rest of her life in order to care for a sick child? This time, she is held back by her worst fears.
In subsequent letters to her unborn child she reveals her thoughts, ones that most people would be reluctant to admit to themselves, namely, that motherhood mustn’t be imagined as a pink cloud, because it involves a great deal of resignation and at times, with superhuman effort. A mother must work the balance between her family and a career, all the while that she must remain a Woman, so her partner will continue being attracted to her. She is determined not to have a marriage bogged down by boredom and ennui, held together only by force of habit, a marriage in which former passion falls prey to the everyday grind. Then she realizes that if they love wisely, they can jump this particular hurdle. But at this juncture, fate brings a new challenge as the hospital, surgery, hopes and doubts confront them, for the first time, with the vision of death.
When their life is back to normal, Csilla feels that she has reached a crossroad. She reconsiders her former plans but is suddenly beset by doubt once again. Perhaps being a mother is not the leading role that life has assigned her? Perhaps there is good reason why this chapter of her life has not yet been written? Should she be looking for fulfillment and her true vocation in some other sphere? This thought is liberating. There is no need, she now realizes, to cling so desperately to the thought of motherhood. But at the same time, she mustn’t abandon it altogether; after all, the wish to have a child is a natural instinct. In which direction will Fate cast the dice? The answer should be sought not so much in the lines of these letters as in ourselves.
GERMAN SYNOPSIS ALSO AVAILABLE
Dóra Galgóczi was born in 1974 in Budapest. Before her literary activities, after graduating from the College of Public Administration, she worked at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, then, as an employee of the National Institute for Health Development she was involved in the organization of lifestyle trainings. She is the author of several popular novels and a collection of short stories about women. More on the author