The Story of Radio’s Voice – a radio play

Eva Nováková

Written by Eva Nováková, aged 13 (inspired by my grandmother, Eva Nováková and great-grandmother Olga Szántová)

Narrator: It was the night of December 12th 1962 in Prague. Seven-year-old Eva was lying on her bed, just about to go to sleep. Her mom Olga came up to her bed and sat down.

(Sound of Olga sitting down)

Olga (older woman’s voice): “Eva, sweetie, how was your day? Sorry, I came home so late, I had plenty of work down at the radio.”

Eva (girl’s voice): “It’s okay mommy, my day was good, I went to school, just my lunch was disgusting.” (smiles)

Olga Szántová | Photo: archive of Eva Nováková

Olga (trying to end the conversation): “Okay, it’s time to go to bed.”

Eva (begging): “Mom, you haven’t told me a bedtime story in a while. Can you please tell me one? Please, please, pretty please.”

Olga (smiling): “Okay, but only one.”

Narrator: Olga stays quiet for a minute, trying to think of a new story.

Olga (thoughtfully): “You know what? Today I’m going to tell you what happened to me when I was your age.”

Narrator: Eva looks surprised because Olga doesn’t talk about her past that often.

Olga: “When I was seven years old, it was the year 1939. That was a year.” (sighs)

Eva (confusedly asks): “What happened in 1939?”

Olga (sadly): “Well, in 1939 the Nazis were long in power in Germany and….”

Eva: “And what??”

Olga (carefully): “Umm and persecuted umm us.”

Narrator: Eva immediately understands what her mom is talking about. Eva knew that her family was Jewish.

Olga Szántová | Photo: Radio Prague International

Olga: “Okay, anyway, originally, we escaped from Slovakia, where we had lived until then; we had a happy life in Bratislava. I went to school, had plenty of friends. My dad had an interesting job; my mom took care of our homelife. I had a loving family. I remember, one summer when I stayed at my grandparents’ house in Trnava, instead of me having to pick redcurrants on my own, my grandpa ripped off a whole twig for me. Then one day, in 1938 they arrested my dad, for political reasons. That was a big shock for all of us, it turned our lives upside down. We escaped to Prague, from where in 1939 my parents and I left Czechoslovakia.”

Eva (realizes): “Oh, that’s why my grandma lives in Slovakia. You were able to leave Czechoslovakia?”

Olga (rebelliously): “Well, kind of, my dad got us fake passports, so we left.”

Eva (eagerly): “How and to where did you leave?”

Olga: “Be patient, I’m going to tell you,” (smiles) “we were heading to Norway by train, but the funny thing is,” (ironically) “we travelled through Germany.”

Eva: “You travelled through Germany? Weren’t you scared?”

Olga: “We had to, there was no other way to travel to Norway, but I wasn’t scared, because my dad was so strong and didn’t want me to worry; he made me feel safe. Plus, at that time I didn’t realize how dangerous it was. Also, we had some furniture from Slovakia with us, so it reminded me of home.”

Eva: “What did you do then in Norway?”

Eva Nováková and David Vaughan in the studio | Photo: Radio Prague International

Olga: “We were in Norway for a year, my dad was working there, and I went to school.”

Eva: “You went to school in Norway? How did you understand Norwegian?”

Olga (showing off, laughing): “At first I didn’t know a word in Norwegian but after a month or so I learned to speak fluently. It’s easier at that age... I also had the best grades possible.”

Eva (laughing): “I see who I got it from.”

Olga: “So, our journey continued on to Sweden when the Germans invaded Norway. Oh, I remember, it was so fast we didn’t get to take many things from Norway. In Sweden we went to a refugee camp, it was much worse than it had been in Norway. At least we met many inspirational people in Sweden like Willy Brandt. I remember my dad being very close to him, they had a lot of things to talk about, since they were both Social Democrats.”

Eva (confusedly): “Wait who is Willy Brandt?”

Olga (dodger smile): “Willy Brandt is a man who met J. F. Kennedy, the American president. And I have a feeling he will be a very successful man.”

Eva (screaming): “Wow, that is huge!”

Narrator: Eva said even though she didn’t quite understand Olga’s last sentence.

Olga: “After living a few months in the refugee camp, we travelled on to Russia. Well, not really, my dad found a job in America, but to get to America not crossing Germany or the sea, because it was dangerous at that time, we had to travel to Russia first.”

Eva (eagerly): “Did you have to learn Russian to attend another school in Russia?”

Eva Nováková | Photo: Radio Prague International

Olga: “This time, no. We just crossed Russia, where we spent a few days on the train. We used the Trans-Siberian Railway, which people who are familiar with, would imagine as a long, endless track of rails through Russia. Surprisingly, we weren’t there yet.”

Eva (laughing): “This story is as long as the Trans-Russian highway!”

Olga (laughing along): “First of all, my story, I mean my life, still continues. Secondly, it’s the Trans-Siberian Railway.”

Olga (welcoming Eva to Japan): “Yokoso to Japan.”

Eva: “Yo what?”

Olga: “Yokoso is welcome in Japanese, the only word I know. As you might have figured out, we were in Japan.”

Eva: “Japan?! Why Japan?”

Olga: “From Japan there were boats travelling to America. Another funny story happened in Japan,” (ironically again) “in Japan we met our old friend from Slovakia. He offered us, that he’d buy the boat tickets for us. But it turned out he took our money and disappeared. After the war we met him again in Slovakia. As he felt guilty for stealing our money, he has been our dentist since then, for free.”

Eva: “How did you get to America without your money?”

Olga: “I don’t know, my dad was the one who took care of that. So, finally we came to America!!”

Eva: “Yay!”

Olga: “But, from Japan we came to the west side of America and my dad had his job in New York, which is the opposite end of America. So, we crossed the whole of America and we finally reached our new home.”

Eva (sadly): “Didn’t you miss Czechoslovakia?”

Olga: “Well, kind of. It was pretty scary to think I might never come back to my first ever home, but on the other hand what I experienced in New York… I wouldn’t change for anything.”

Eva: “What was so amazing about New York?”

Eva Nováková,  Ondřej Novák and Leah Gaffen in the studio | Photo: Radio Prague International

Olga: “I’m not scared to say, that I fell in love with New York. It was so… different.”

Eva: “What was so different comparing to before?”

Olga: “The people, the way of life, their view of life, it was finally safe, full of energy, buildings. The buildings there were so tall. Now I remembered that in New York you almost don’t see the sky, because of the skyscrapers.”

Eva: “I want to go to New York! For how long did you live there?”

Olga: “Like 5 or 6 years.”

Eva: “You didn’t go to school the entire time?”

Olga (showing off, smiling): “Of course, I went to school. Actually, school there was so fun! I made plenty of friends there, and again I was a good student.”

Eva (sighs, smiling): “Okay.”

Olga: “But I really loved New York. I must take you there once; you will love it. Even though I lost a few years of my life because of the war, I would never change the experience I got there! I learned how to speak English, made lifetime friendships and overall New York is great.”

Eva (joking): “That’s why when you curse, you curse in English! You learned that in your beloved school, huh?”

Olga (laughing): “I sure did!”

Eva: “Why did you come back to Czechoslovakia when you loved New York that much?”

Olga: “Because my dad wanted to rebuild Czechoslovakia after the war as a politician. But believe me, at that time if I could have, I’d have stayed in New York.”

Eva (offendedly): “If you stayed there, you wouldn’t have met my dad and wouldn’t have me!”

from the left: Eva Nováková,  Amelie Piper and Lucienne Erent | Photo: Radio Prague International

Olga: “True enough, it was worth coming back” (smiles) “I’m also grateful to New York for my English, because without it I couldn’t be doing what I love – doing interviews in English for broadcast abroad.”

(Sound as Eva yawns.)

Olga: “Okay, now really, it’s time to go to bed.”

Narrator: Eva is so tired she doesn’t even have energy to complain. Olga covers her with a blanket and gives her a good night kiss. Eva is still thinking about what her mom just talked about. She can’t even imagine what she’s been through, first living a peaceful life in Slovakia, then having to move to Prague, because her dad was in jail. Not only that she left her first home, she had to leave even her second home. She was in a school in Norway, travelled to Russia, Japan and then finally America. Her mom should make a whole book out of her adventures!

Then she realizes how strong her mom is. Even in the darkest parts of her life, she has a smile on her face and believes in a bright future.

Eva: “I want to be like her one day!”

Narrator: Eva turns of her light and falls asleep.

(Sound of light switching off.)

Author: Eva Nováková
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