Duet for female and male voice

You haven’t seen the Himalayas yet you crave for it restlessly, after you have seen them, you can’t get away from them.


Lajos hit me. God, oh my god, Lajos hit me! Then he rushed away without saying a word. Exactly a week ago. He hasn’t called me since. He lost his temper because of some silly little lies of mine. I always assume that I am good at lying whenever I am forced to lie. I don’t even bat an eyelid. I don’t know how I do it, but within seconds I turn into an innocent little girl. It has always worked so far with all my boyfriends. Once in a while of course there were embarrassing moments. Especially with my ex. But somehow, I’ve always seemed to get away.

But Lajos sensed immediately that I wasn’t telling the truth. Though it has happened before, since we were together. It was that fucking thousand notes, from the household money. Moreover, that bloody Turk ripped me off with that perfume...Fuck him!

You haven’t seen the Himalayas yet you crave for it restlessly, after you have seen them, you can’t get away from them. The images of the south side’s beautiful groves, wild forests and blooming lotuses will return from time to time in your dreams. As well as the north side’s eternal, severe, barren, infertile plateau, where the unbridled, freezing wind is indifferently blowing. The Himalayas are not only a sanctuary, a temple but god itself. It’s the divine and human world’s greatest miracle. It’s impossible to get enough of it. By merely looking at it you’ll start shiver, no matter how many times you have seen it before. Only the devil could never gain a footing here – the land doesn’t let its peace and harmony to be disturbed. It’s a mysterious, moonlike land. You shouldn’t go there unless you have got something to do). 

But I swear to god, I only wanted to smell god for Lajos. He is crazy about good clothes and fragrances. Whenever I put on some of that French perfume, it drives him mad. I had it on when we first had sex on the Persian carpet in that borrowed apartment. My god, the way he pants and gasps for breath! And he soaked, he soaked the sweet fragrance mixed with sweat like a dry plant soaks water. Ever since I have known that I would never ever want another man in my life. He is more desirable than gold, his smoke-smelling kisses are sweeter than honey. And that athletic built! Those eyes, those blue eyes! No woman could possibly resist him! His purple suit! Even the girls from the office (where I work as a secretary) told me that I should count myself lucky with him!  And they haven’t seen his car yet! Or when we go to the Chinese restaurant: he doesn’t accept any bullshitting when his rice is badly cooked. Lajos knows very well how to live. He condensates. I know exactly what that means, my friend Emma (she used to lend us her flat, and she studied psychology at the university, I am very proud of her) told me once, that he condensates, when I told him that Lajos fought his way up from an eighth-district, one-room flat and an alcoholic father.      

 (That day I walked a lot. I got very tired of both the earthly hurry and the heavenly adventures too. I could have fallen asleep easily, but I was afraid to enter the gates of Dreamland. I was scared. Either that the dream wouldn’t continue or that it would end. I didn’t know which option I preferred. I was looking at the sky, the mountain, the stone, the tree, I was watching what the grass, the flowers, the bugs, the birds were doing – for a long time, meditating.)    

Ok, ok, Lajos makes me jealous many times. But I keep my mouth shut. You can’t be messing with Lajos. I’d rather swallow the bitter pill. Like the other day when he pinched the double chin of the butcher’s wife, in front of my eyes. Of course then and there I felt like shit, but I told myself that after all he was my man, and he was indeed adorably irresistible. He is adorable as he is wiggling his hips and tries to attract attention on the market, the in front of the plants and the women were chirping around him like birds. The other day I was following him from a distance, but luckily he didn’t see me. He would break my neck if he knew that I was spying upon him during the day. I am not so stupid to gamble away my good my luck. When have I ever had a man like Lajos? Of course I had plenty of men but what sort of? What were they like? They always bothered me with that Bac and stuff like that. Ok, when I was bored I listened to all kinds of stuff, but for the third time I got enough of the Four Seasons. Or the other one who used to drag me to museums. But when I wanted to see a furniture exhibition I could hardly convince him. But the worst of them was the bookworm: he didn’t do anything didn’t eat or drink, he sat all the time like an idiot with a book in his hands and a cigarette in his mouth. Once he read the bible. I thought he was studying for an exam, but he later admitted that read it because he wanted to learn the meaning of life. What an asshole! He kept smiling and smiling like an idiot. Not even my purple nail polish turned him on. And when he talked you couldn’t understand a word he said. He said weird things like you aren’t as old as you look to yourself, or that your coincidences are determined by you. I don’t think he was sane. But the top of everything was the ever-moving vitamin-ball: I have had enough of him. He always wanted to drag me to the mountains. To the mountains in wi-i-inter, in a snow as high as my arse! And ha dragged me to the sea in summer: To sail. He didn’t notice till I stopped him an told him right away that the hell (I used a ruder word, but it’s not my fault that he pissed me off ) will be squashed in that narrow cabin! You, I told him, you are sick; there isn’t even a bidet there! I’d rather not talk about my ex. Ah, let’s leave that fucking past behind!        

 (In my dreams I looked at the dark cloud in the sky, and I suddenly saw the black dragon of hell. I talked to him gently, and then we had a long chat. I don’t know, in which language I was speaking or what I was saying. But the dragon became calmer and calmer; in the end it was as gentle as a lamb. Then it suddenly vanished as if it had never been there. In another dream, the moon leant to me from the Sky’s forehead and whispered in my ears: Look, I am the star of the night, the Sky’s ornament, the planet of dimness, the embodiment of enchanting beauty beyond any imagination. And you, bathing in my shining, swimming in my silver flow, which is smoother and gentler than the dearest glance, don’t you want to worship me? For I am a god too.)

What could have these skinny starvelings seen in me? All of them wore torn clothes. It’s not only about the money itself. But it’s a fact, that besides the vitamin-ball they were all skinny. All skin and bones. They didn’t have a sweet, round beer belly like my Lajos has. A cup-shaped navel, hairy thighs and backs. Ever since I have met Lajos, I have been sick with love. For when my Lajos gets turned on, hush hush, he doesn’t stop till Celldömölk with me. The way he pants and grasps for breath! The way he pants “kefíga kefíga” in my ears. It drives me mad. Then the world explodes in my head. And I only want everything to remain like this, broken, in pieces. Then it doesn’t matter if it’s a gateway, a lift stopped between floors, a car, or an office desk. Kefiga, kefiga, it keeps rattling in my ears more and more wildly till I suddenly feel that my brain has just exploded. Lajos, my Lajos, why are doing this to me?      

 (I could hear that the fairy with the sonorous voice was with me on the mountain’s lawn lit by the moonlight. But I didn’t dare to look at her. – I have been watching the sky’s moon and billions of stars since the beginning of times. Stay with me here on the cliff and the passing of your life will stop. From this time on you will live forever with the mount’s gods and fairies – she said. But she detained me in vain I could not stay here either. My desire drove me further. I chose the stubborn discipline to be my partner nevertheless my steps became heavier afterwards.   

Sources of the quotations from the text: László Sári: Csoma legendárium, Mihály Babits: Zsoltár férfihangra,The Song of Songs and The Book of Psalms.

Translated by Monica Rees

Szántó F. István was born in Budapest, in 1964. He graduated from the Faculty of Arts, Szeged University. He completed his PhD in aesthetics, from ELTE University. Currently, he teaches literature and history of culture. He has published, translated and edited since 1988. His books include: Between brackets (essays, short stories), FISZ, Budapest, 2003; Tradition and self (definition), Kortárs Kiadó, Bp. 2004.


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