24 August, St. Bartholomew’s Day is a day of mourning not only for the Calvinists of France, but also for those of Szék (Sic). It was on this day that the Tartars devastating all northern Transylvania burned the town in 1717. The bulk of the population were killed or deported. The survivors who are still wearing black, made a vow to attend on the anniversary of the tragedy penitential service three times a day. And although nowadays the majority of the inhabitants of Szék work in the big cities or abroad – as in the village there is almost no job –, nevertheless on this day everyone comes home.
I also wanted to be there on Bartholomew’s day in this year, to meet our friends after the two devastating floods that hit Szék in this year, to give over to them the money collected by the readers of Río Wang, and to ask them about their plans and opportunities. But in the end it happened otherwise: the money went there, but I had to stay at home. And the opportunities also unraveled only slowly in the course of the last months. At first, it seemed that the local self-government would give land for free to the victims on which they would build their houses by their own efforts. Then it was rumored that they would receive cash assistance to buy vacant houses in the village. Finally, as it is usual in Transylvania, everything was completely different. The self-government did not give anything, and they have not even distributed yet the money collected by all the inhabitants for their fellow villagers. However, someone managed to obtain some public assistance for the victims in the form of a certain amount of bricks and cement, so in the last month whoever could began to build. Our friends were twice lucky: on the one hand, they could buy from the inheritance of some relatives, for a very low price – 2500 new lei, ca. 600 euros – a small land of about 500 square meters, and on the other hand, due to the readers of Río Wang, they also had the cash to immediately pay it, and the rest served for a first part of the building materials not covered by the public assistance. In these days they complete the walls of the new house, but for the roof and the interior they have to collect more, and they can continue the work only in the spring.
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In the meantime, we illustrate this post with the photos by renowned artist Péter Korniss. He has been visiting Szék since 1967, and in his album Past time (1979) he also published the wedding photos of our common friends – not the victims of the flood, but a different couple. Thirty years later, in 2008 we photographed together on the wedding of our friends’ daughter. We illustrated with our photos made at that time our previous post on Szék, while he included in his album Ties: 1967-2008 side by side the wedding photos of the parents and the children. That is the only album in our possession dedicated to us both by the photographer and the models.