This is a guest post by Tatjana Pavlovič, who blogs at Czechmate Diary.
Slovakia, in the back of my mind, still equals to Czechoslovakia, which equals to my home country where I was born and raised. I guess that would mean that my mind still refuses to accept the split which happened 21 years ago.
I grew up around Slovak-speaking people. My grandpa was Slovak, a well-known professor in Martin. My dad was born there and even when the family moved to the Czech part of the country, they continued speaking Slovak. I spent many happy summers with my Czech grandma and Slovak grandpa. And after a couple of days there I found myself practicing Slovak in front of the mirror. I found the language more exotic than Czech. “Zemiaky” sounded better than “brambory” and “bábätko” felt more appropriate then “miminko.”
My family went to visit the magnificent Tatra Mountains a couple of times, and although I don’t remember much from the trip I still hear the stories, like when my father lost a ski on one of the ski lifts that were about 60,000 feet above the ground.
When the country divided I remember asking my parents why and getting an answer that did not satisfy my justification process. I found myself asking again and again, and up to this day I am not even sure if I completely get the whole split. Do you? I remember my grandpa, who was well into his 80’s at that time, did not take the split of the country very well. It must have been really hard on him as a Slovak living in the Czech Republic and loving both countries equally.
Geographically speaking the Czechs got the beautiful Prague out of the Velvet Divorce and the Slovaks got the mountains.
It is hard for the Czech children nowadays to understand the Slovak language, which is just mind-boggling to me. It has never been a problem for my generation. For those of us who grew up with it, it just flows in our blood and whether we want it or not, Slovakia is part of us. We all know that when we sing the Czech anthem “Kde domov můj” we have to watch ourselves not to continue with the Slovak anthem “Nad Tatrou sa blýska” because we have known it to be one composition for a long time.
I guess it’s something like a divorce. At one time you were one. Now that is no longer the truth but the memories and the products of that marriage live on and will affect you until the day you die.
Living abroad is a totally different thing. Here we take things differently. I don’t think I speak only for myself if I say that Czech or Slovak means the same thing. I feel like we are all brothers and sisters here because there are so few of us and we need to stick together!
Image credit: kh1234567890