In this extraordinary memoir, Hungarian-born Imre Istvan Koller recalls his formative years in his native country during the Second World War and its aftermath.
At a very early age he was separated from his parents sent to live in a children’s home in a remote rural area, where he grew up believing himself to be an orphan. (He did not discover the existence of his parents or meet them and the rest of his family until many years later, in 1953.)
He grew up in a series of foster homes to which the orphanage sent him, most of which were farms of one kind or another. Some of his guardians proved to be decent people and treated him well but others abused their power over him, using him as little more than a slave labourer. A few were violent towards him and on more than one occasion he ran away.
He had an affinity with animals and on one particular farm he made friends with two unusual companions ~ a pair of black water buffalo ~ with which he developed a strong emotional bond. The time he spent in their company was the happiest of his young life, although sadly this friendship was to have a tragic ending.
Finally, after a particularly vicious beating and despite the fact that he was still only 10 years old, young Imre decided to run away for good and seek his fortune in the big city of Budapest. It was the beginning of a new life and a new series of adventures that would culminate in his involvement in the Hungarian uprising of 1956 and emigration to the UK.
The inspiring story of his remarkable young life and survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties is told in full within the pages of this modest and unassuming autobiographical account.