Drawings by János HÁY.
Gabriella NAGY
Gabriella Nagy was born in 1964 , poet, writer and critic. Untill now ahe published a volume of poems and a novel. She was awarded the Robert Graves Price.

Gabriella Nagy

My Surfer

Swear you won’t tell anyone. It all started with me and my buddy. Not a boyfriend, since we didn’t decide whether we were dating or just messing about, anyway, we didn’t love each other so much that we would tell others we did. He’d heard a thing or two about me, like perhaps I was Jesus’ bride or that I tempted a flasher in The Jolly Roger and made him force a god-invoking blood-curdling scream out of me by strangling me with my own scarf. That was interesting enough for him to take me here and there sometimes, say, to a hangar where eventually - unless I was fibbing - I confessed to him that since god didn’t answer me I decided to break up with Jesus because this indifference might be inherited genetically, like the father passes the sin on to son, and then if there was trouble, this fiancé of mine wouldn’t help me. We just sat there blankly on the stone-floor of the hangar and I felt that I wasn’t in love with my buddy after all, and fancied that a boy would come who’d love me awfully and I’d love him, too, and then the world would be in place. But my buddy just wouldn’t ever leave my side, he kept on watching my every move, then when he looked aside for a second a guy did come up to me. He leaned quite close over me, but, god knows, I couldn’t believe what I heard. He might have been wound up a bit, because he asked it more and more loudly, and I just didn’t want to believe that he asked what I heard, because I did hear this strange boy ask me quite bravely in the dead of the night while my buddy, who’d already noticed the threat, was watching like a hawk, would you go to bed with me?

To tell the simple truth, what happened later was that my buddy and me got bored with the see-saw and while we were relishing our freedom regained I complained to my other friend about what a failure it was not to love anyone when he comforted me saying cheer up my little girlfriend for someday there at the lake you’ll get your one and only. He’ll be surfing there in white trunks and it will be such a great romance that one can get drowned in it. I thought that my friend had gone mad for I never mix with surfers, but then it happened literally like that, I swear.

At the lake where we spent our time with my friends I did see a pair of eyes follow me but I didn’t check who it belonged to supposing my eyes deceived me or maybe it was a bit squinty, but days went by and that stare was still fixed on me, there was nothing to do. If I sat down on the right he’d turn right, if on the left, he’d nod leftwards, he followed me faithfully. Then one of the last days had come and the man who the pair of eyes belonged to stopped right in front of me telling me to go to the shore where he was to go. I told him okay and thank you while I slowly recognized him as the guy who had asked such a weird thing in the hangar. Of course I didn’t go where he asked me to since he had no white trunks and he had no surfboard either, and what does such a ne’er-do-well think anyway; for you could tell at once he didn’t have to wink too many times if he wanted something. I was having a good time elsewhere but he’d turned up just before sunrise and sat down face to face with me only to have his stare pierce right into the middle of my heart. So we were playing on and on, I turned around, he got before me, then I turned to one side, he got before me again. I was now turning round and round, he just shouldn’t be nosing about the happiness in my eyes, but while doing so I already felt that he’d surrounded me for good, he’d got hold of me, he’d trapped me. This boy then asked how about a walk along the shore as sitting there was no fun anymore, when I put to him the crucial question who he really was, so that there was gonna be no trouble like he might turn out to be a flasher or someone married and married with children who’s on holiday and whose wife and lover would one day ambush us with a hairpin and a butcher knife. And he answered, no doubt, that he was a surfer or something and that bit I understood, but then I said to myself oh rubbish, just when I thought of my friend’s prophecy that I’d have someone like him and that which has an omen can only be true love. I feel cold, I complained, then he got a coat from his friend right away and lay it on my back. It grew warm and I was persuaded, I swear to god.

Well, whether only into a walk or into more, that much I can’t tell you. It’s for sure, though, that a big furore awaited us when we got back. A gaggle of women were giving me the bird, his friend, who I gave his coat back straightaway, got half frozen and lay wrapped in napery on the table while his other buddies were having a round table indignation meeting over him about this woman who comes here out of nowhere, drags an umpteenfold committed grown man, jumps him and game over, then steals a coat from a shivering bloke who this way she leaves frozen up, and what is more, she doesn’t answer questions as to what she’s done to this poor fellow, for what this tainted simpleton is saying, that we were surfing a little, the wind being fair, is a barefaced lie.

The wife and the lover insisted that I was a lyric poetess, some kind of a siren who hums a few tones, infiltrates the ears and then pulverizes the victim’s bones, and pours the latter into a glassful of beaten egg white with which she lubricates her vocal folds every day. My buddy and my friend cooed into my surfer’s ears, one of them saying that in fact there’s a temptress in me, the other that I’m an ingénue who’s broken once such a fiendish rogue touches her with crack and letcho where his heart should be. There is complete accord among peepers, eavesdroppers and other busybodies that I’m without respect for god and man, I’ve no moral sense, and I crack a marriage like a pincer splits open a nut that neither nature nor any paste presses it together again.

Every day a new sin was added to my litany of crimes. Lonely lover had fallen into melancholy so she immediately went to try her luck beyond the seven seas and she did find it, while little wife was waiting for her sweetheart’s return weeping, patiently, because she knew, she felt deep down, that her man belonged to her and nothing could separate them. He just has to be rescued from the clutches of the witch who steals her way into the guy’s friends’ hearts by playing a retarded frump, one who mustn’t be pushed around as one doesn’t lay into loonies. My buddy thought I’d been corrupted, and my friend still saw me merely as Jesus’ bride who’d one day open her eyes and turn wrong into right. The surfer guy kept on repeating I love you, I love you and, I’d never seen anything like this, he blushed and tears welled up in his eyes. Meanwhile he brought word that his friend whose coat he’d put on me froze to death in an estate prefab taking the cold with him and actually these wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t come up with that silly female gimmick that I felt cold. He only told me horrible things every day like everyone was dying and there was an awfully big trouble while I lived like a lady, and his conscience pushed him so far that suddenly he announced that he wouldn’t leave me, but he’d just move away for a while, when I began to cry and I kept on crying because of the pain, I didn’t ever stop, I kept it on when he left for good, too, but he told me I was his love but then his wife cried better than me.

God punished me accordingly, so that I’ve been crying ever since even though I never think of him only of that those who cry better have surfers slide ashore in the sea of tears beside them. And, sure as fate, I’ve been crying so much that it’s become a lake, the same lake full of tears on the shore of which I used to wait for my love and where I noticed a real surfer whose shirt and eyes were the same colour as my tears, as the lake that I filled with tears, and then I thought that my friend’s prophecy would come true because he told me neither the day, nor the year. Those who surrounded us then began muttering that maybe I was a dim saint or maybe I was a baleful wicked witch crushing lives to powder, and maybe my surfer was only a ne’er-do-well or maybe he was… But this you really shouldn’t tell anyone.

Translated by Katalin Szekeres


  © All rights belong to the authors or their heirs. 2004.