Walking slowly with his cane, Kristof was in no hurry to meet his grandson at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. The boy could use some time away from his video games to experience history. Kristof tipped his pointed hat to the familiar ladies behind the counter of the museum as he strolled past. He pushed his eyeglasses back up to the bridge of his nose.
Kristof found his teenaged grandson, Dominik in the Hungarian Revolution section of the gallery. He was sitting in the corner playing with his phone. Kristof sighed with disappointment as he slowly approached Dominik. “This is our time together. I’m going to insist you hand me that phone now,” he requested with his hand out. He was tempted to throw it in the garbage, but instead slipped it into his suit coat pocket.
“I’m not sure why you made Mom drop me off here on a Saturday, but I have lots of plans with my friends,” Dominik said with an attitude. “So whatever dumb old thing you want to show me, can we get this over with?” He mumbled under his breath, “I could be killing aliens right now.”
“Sure, sure,” Kristof responded with more patience then he expected. “I can see why killing fake aliens with your friends is more important than learning about a war hero in our family. I don’t want to waste too much of your time, so follow me.”
Dominik stood in place for a moment, thinking about what his grandfather just said. He ran to catch up with the old man. “Sorry Papa,” he said looking down at his feet. “You shouldn’t have heard that. What do you mean a war hero in our family?”
The old man remained silent with anger until he arrived at the painting. “This is what I wanted to show you. What do you think?”
Dominik looked over unimpressed at the average size painting that hung on the wall. “I think I see a painting with two dudes in it. One looks dead and dropped a red flag while the other is reaching to pick it up. They look to be on a stone road.”
“I’m disappointed in you,” Kristof answered. “You’re just looking at the painting. Close your eyes and look at it again. Study the colors and the texture of the work. Feel the painting with your heart.”
“I see a lot of blue, grey, and green,” the young man scoffed back. “I’m not sure why you’re so in love with this dull painting.”
The old man sat down on the bench in front of the painting like he did many times before. “The year was 1956 when my best friend David and I marched through Budapest to protest the Hungarian People’s Republic. It was the communist government in place at the time.” He paused for a moment tapping the bench next to him for his grandson to sit down. “I was young then. I knew I could change the world. So, David and I marched with a bunch of other college students to the Parliament building.”
“I didn’t know you were in the Hungarian Revolution,” Dominik interrupted feeling bad for his disrespect earlier.
Kristof smiled then took off his brown hat. He rested it on the left knee of his light brown slacks. “The protest was exciting. There were white vans with speakers that played voices with demands of new government. David and I stood by a small group that decided they were going to enter a radio room in the Parliament building to make our demands louder. I remember clearly a young man handing David a red flag. The State Security Police took that small group into custody. I remember the uproar as we demanded them back.” A tear fell down the old man’s cheek. “Shots were fired into our crowd. Only one person died that day.” Kristof stopped his story unable to go on.
Dominik stood up to view the painting for the first time. The dead man wore a blue coat and a satisfied smile on his face. The strong man wore a ragged white shirt and dark pants. With blood on his face and hands, the man in the painting looked out at the world with dark eyes determine to change it. Dominik was familiar with the eyes that stared at him. They were the eyes that read him stories when he was sick. The eyes that watched him play sports when he was young. “Papa,” Dominik called out in alarm. “This is a picture of you!”
Kristof rested his chin on top of his cane. The same eyes from the painting looking up at the young man with pride. “Dominik, I want to introduce you to my best friend David,” he said pointing at the painting. “I come to visit him every day to tell him how thankful I am. Through his sacrifice on that day, it started the revolt that led to the great Hungarian country we live in. I am truly blessed to have fought for the change that my friend believed in.”