CSEJDY András - Slag Heap (excerpt)
Meddõhányó (részlet)
 

My dear buddy boy abroad,

You asked me to put into words what keeps me back, what keeps me here, and I just kept quiet, then I said things like the Ibolya Presszó, horse races, my favorite film, 'Time Stands Still", and Turkish baths, although I had no arguments for or against, nor do I have any now, but for some reason or other I feel that I must write to you, especially you, about what happened to me the other day: with Brian Eno in my ears I was going down the escalator to the subway and I was almost at the bottom when someone reached over, touched my arm, a womanís hand, thin engagement ring, hurrying streaks of purplish nail polish, pink frame by the nail bed, the entire scene was but a fleeting moment, I took the earphones off while I turned to ask, 'Who are you?" but she headed me off with 'Böbe" and I answered, as if by instinct, 'Wait for me", then a turn, I clicked off the Walkman and tried to revive from the past the face associated with this name, I saw her before me, I saw us, the first girl I went all the way with, almost, but this face was not the same face, I blushed, she stood there under the billboard after nine years, a basket by her feet, Iím certain I would not have recognized her, not only because of the twenty or twenty-five kilos she gained, but because she looked worn out, maybe her eyes, and of course her voice, hoarse, deep, that was the same, and I was already sorry for not having gone by, how could I be so stupid, but then she confused me so much I thought - forget it - Iíll walk her home, they didnít live far with her husband and the two kids, for some reason I accepted her invitation, maybe I hated to feel embarrassed to be seen with her, I drew away awkwardly trying to hide the discomforting consciousness of once having been close to this woman, and I guess it was because of this that I went up to have dinner with them, played with the children, lied on the synthetic Persian rug full of dog hair, took a look inside the built-in cabinets, ran through a magazine on the toilet, the roast was cooking in the kitchen, Laci arrived, he had heard of me already, more tightness in my throat, he opened a third bottle of wine, we spoke, more and more quietly, NATIONAL BANK: DEPOSIT CREDIT APARTMENT CURRENCY, DEPOSIT/CREDIT/APARTMENT/CURRENCY Ė NATIONAL BANK: DEPOSIT CREDIT APARTMENT CURRENCY, DEPOSIT/CREDIT/APARTMENT/CURRENCY Ė flickered in rainbow colors from a rooftop, the children fell asleep, I sat between them, I wanted to nestle close to their lives, I wanted to very much, to strike the right note, because I could've been home here, too, I couldíve opened my mailbox in that building day after day, I couldíve lived with Böbe for years thinking she would soon have to pass away, she was pregnant with her second child when a dark spot appeared on her sole, she could barely walk, Böbe put on weight and her foot swelled up, the doctors threw their hands in the air, offered excuses one after the other, finally, a unanimous diagnosis, they couldnít take any chances, she was still nursing when they cut off her toes, much later it turned out they had made a mistake, the sudden extra weight altered her body structurally and her foot was truncated because of a blood blister, I tried to imagine her putting on nylons in the morning, but I couldnít, I tried to picture the toes of her shoes stuffed with cotton, and in the summer, awkwardly bent feet under her seat on the streetcar, no, I couldnít picture that either, lovemaking maybe, but then I got sick, they went on about how Laciís family didnít care, he never shouldíve married a half-gypsy,, but Laci didnít care, their lives were hard, the only person who helped them was a senile, psychotic aunt, Blanka, well before the war she had finished her studies in engineering, planned roads, invented something, the most economical way to build serpentine roads, her royalties just kept coming, she was a grand dame, a bit like Karády Katalin, at least the way she looked in that photograph they showed me, she kept lovers, many received ministerial appointments on account of her, and many more were dismissed because of her, she was already free to travel in the early sixties, she was everywhere in the world, receptions, theatre and opera performances, conferences, inaugurating highways, cutting tricolor ribbons in Swiss, Italian and Austrian villages, she smoked quality cigarettes, drank French cognac, dressed elegantly, was a real vamp, fine fabrics, ostentatious colors, the authorities tolerated it from her, they loved her for it, then she started to get old and tired, lived in a huge apartment on Garay Square, the neighborhood around her gradually deteriorated, as she did, then everything else followed, she was no longer recognized on her way to the neighborhood bar smiling like a drunken angel, whistling softly, the family broke off with her, expect for Laci and Böbe, as they had nowhere else to go, they moved into her place, the children came, Blanka drank more, gave away her jewelry, fair-going gypsies took her neo-baroque dining set for two bottles of home made Slivovitz, Blanka had a habit of coming home with cats, there was a time fifteen cats lived in the apartment with Böbe, Laci and the two children, it always smelled like piss, frequently they awakened to extended cat squalls, the animals were mating in agony, Blanka shrieked in her glass voice, after a while she, too, was unable to hold her urine, Böbe went to the city hall and got a welfare apartment, Blanka lived alone again, waiting again in her fur- lined muslin robe for the shutters to roll up in the bar, she spent the entire day there, Polish whores or girls who had escaped from juvenile detention centers slept and worked in her bed while she drank, then after about half a year, they rang the doorbell at Böbeís, Blanka had to be identified, a girl from one of the neighboring apartments had given their address, they went to the apartment on Garay Square, it was totally empty, Blanka had sold everything, a commode leaned against a wall with lace gloves and opera glasses hanging from it, by the window stood an aluminum ladder, flies buzzed around it, it was smeared with shit, Blanka mustíve climbed up there to the top, where she took a crap, a message for posterity, artistic acrobatics, according to a medical expert she had been dead ten days, we Hungarians are tops in the world in this field, about a year ago they opened up a warehouse in the suburbs, the 25 Watt Tungsram bulb still worked, on a sack of hay was a clothed skeleton, it had been there over thirty-one years Ė in Blankaís apartment they found three dead cats and one alive, I tried but couldnít imagine the smell as they went in, the lone cat leaped at them, it had gone crazy probably, bit and scratched, mauled whoever came near, Laci hit it with the broom, hit it hard, the catís skull split open, blood everywhere, but it was still moving, the landlord tossed it from the fifth floor by its tail, children playing in the courtyard continued biking, they had already tortured animals, by this time I was absolutely drunk, I donít know what was really said and what I added later, but whatís certain is that in my dream that night, the most morbid images surfaced, Böbeís foot, Blankaís apartment, the cat, of course, I promised them Iíd visit again, but I havenít the strength, Iím an occasional tourist at best, even in my hometown, and now you have every right to ask whatís in it for me in all of this, I know Iíve thoroughly confused you with this longish letter, because in lieu of marshalling arguments for what keeps me here, youíre getting an unfinished, gruesome, brutal and incomplete sentence, and you sit there uncomprehending, since what I wrote about is repulsive, these are experiences to get away from, because living with them is impossible, yet I still feel I canít live without them, that this environment is my turf, here I can find my way, Iím familiar with all the points of reference in the maze, and Iím starting to realize that what there is here is a given, and my stance is to accept rather than judge, so buddy boy, enough, enough for today, keep licking your pastel popsicle, let the southern sun brown your body, and be quick about sending me something nice and dirty in your next letter, right!

Translated by REICH Péter

 
   
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