well, as i said i fixed a little thing: the reverends promised the
grandfather a wardrobe back when i was there, to be picked up when
they moved back into the renovated church. well, that was supposed to
happen in january but it didn't. and the grandfather really really
wanted that wardrobe as they have nothing except what i managed to
scrounge together before i left. a couch, a stove.. there was an old
fucked up table with two broken chairs, left from the old man who had
died there. everything else had gotten stolen from there, even the
gas heating element. well, we did buy one of those, too.
the grandfather had a couple of pieces of broken down furniture of
his own, what they hadn't sold yet for food, at melinda's. but he
wanted to leave them for her. all he took from that appartment was
his wife's kitchen cabinet.
so there is not much in the little house. and when the rev promised
the wardrobe he was happy. a wardrobe is very important there cause
there are no closets. and then anna the realestate lady piped in that
she would give him a piece of carpet and some curtains. so now he was
happy, cause he could live like a decent person, a gentleman, in that
parlance. a decent life for katika.
only... none of it came through. he had hired a horse and buggy to go
pick up the carpet and curtain. took a good chunk of food money to do
that. but when he got there anna said she had forgotten and given it
to someone else. who knows, maybe. or maybe once i leave there is no
need to keep up, you know, being kind.
but there was still the wardrobe. and also a little bed for katika.
so he waited and waited. for four months. and finally the rev said he
could come get the furniture. he was excited, their clothes were
getting mold from lying on the ground. so he said, okay, i have to
take an advance of food money for two weeks to be able to get the
buggy and some men to help. which is no problem, taking an advance,
he is very honest. when he takes an advance for a few weeks --cause
sometimes he has to, there are things to fix, like the broken
toilet-- he is meticulous about only going back when the
predetermined weeks are up. so he told the rev what it was for and
got two weeks advance. except then his sister-in-law died. and he had
to help burry her. so he could not go get the stuff.
and when he did finally manage to organize it all, he got shit from
the rev. that he was a liar. and had taken that money. and that's why
he hadn't come.
and then they gave him the furniture. only it was not what they had
promised. it was an old kitchen cabinet and a mirror. and the little
bed for katika, they did give that. but no wardrobe, and there he
was, having hired 4 people to help him.
and then being called a liar.
i talked to him on the phone right after all this and he was very
angry. and hurt. you see, when people promise things, he takes it
seriously, that it will happen. because of me. all this happened to
him, the house and all, because of me. i had promised and i did what
i had promised. i promised to stay around and help and i do. so he
thought all these other people who helped me to do the stuff i
promised were like me. and they are not. he is finding out.
so then i called the rev noemi. you know, innocent-like. so what's up, like.
oh, she said, benjamin is really angry at the grandfather cause he
lied. i said, about what. well, he didn't come when promised and
told us some lie about someone dying. and wasn't grateful for what we
gave. and then we followed the buggy to see where it went and it
didn't go to his house at all. he is a liar, she said. i could hear
her think: all gypsies are liars.
so i said, well, you are wrong. very politely, you understand, i
have to speak very carefully, can't just say things as i feel them
cause i need these people to do what they do for me. to give the
grandfather his 10 bucks a week. so, as i said, politely.
i said, you know, noemi, benjamin is wrong. i know for a fact that
there was a death, the wife of the grandfather's brother who died
last winter. i know her. don't you remember, noemi, i bought the
casket for him to be burried in. oh, she said, oh, i remember that
now. i said he did not lie, noemi. tell that to benjamin.
but did you know that we followed the buggy to see where it went and
it didn't go to the grandfather's house. oh yes, i do know that, i
said. i guess you don't know where melinda lives, you know, his
daughter with the many children. that's where he took some of it,
i said. you see, he was expecting a wardrobe. and you gave him a
kitchen cabinet. well, it's got room to put clothes too, she said.
he gave it to his daughter, cause she didn't have one. that's all
that happened, i said. and then he took the little bed home for
katika. tell benjamin that grandfather is not a liar, i said. tell
you know, she said. we do see the grandfather around. he is always
doing little jobs, cleaning some stairs, things like that. i guess,
he is very industrious, she said. but we don't see katika anymore,
she doesn't come begging or anything. once, we saw her walking
along, in the centre of town, hand in hand with the grandfather.
and then she said: but i see the other children all the time. zsoka,
they look awful, they frighten me. they are out on the streetcorner
till all hours of the night, all together, filthy, ragged, hungry
and begging. i asked them where their father was, she said. at home,
the children said, watching television.
i think, noemi said, that the only food they get is what they can
so i called the grandfather, again. he said, yes, those poor
children. the whole family lives off what they beg. their father is a
scoundrel and my daughter is an idiot. i can't do anything about it,
he said. and he sighed. well, try again, i said. at least try to get
janoska out of there, try again. try to bring him home with you. yes,
he said. last time i tried i ended up in big screaming fight with
them. well, i said, tell them they can keep the 5 bucks children's
allowance they get for him. maybe that will work. sure they can keep
it, he said, i don't need that money. i will try again, tomorrow.
when will you call me again, he said. in a couple of weeks, as usual.
and oh, i said. i talked to the rev noemi and everything is okay.
next time you go, just ask for an advance of the food money, and buy
a wardrobe with it. oh, he said, that will be good. there is an old
woman in the neighbourhood who is going to the poorhouse.
there, the oldfolks home is called the poorhouse.
there is that old woman, he said. and she wants to sell her wardrobe.
go ahead, i said, but it. a home needs a wardrobe. and when we have
some more money, we're gonna fix the waterpressure too. so katika can
have hot water to wash.
and how is iren, i said. you know, she is dying. and jozsi, my
good son is there taking care of her and the kids. and he can't go to
hungary to work. so now what's going to happen to them. he sighed
here, he said, katika wants to talk to you. hi, hi, zsoka neni. when
are you coming, well, that's katika.
so here it is, you see, the little thing i fixed. and the big that i
cannot. and the other big that i also cannot. i don't know what to do
about the children. i am the only happiness in their life, and i
don't know what to do. i talk to their mother sometimes, just so they
know i am still here.
and i also don't know how i can help jozsi. i would like to, he is a
good man and a good father. he is proud. he never asks for anything.
but when i talk to him on the phone he sounds... beaten.
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