Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 01:41:27 -0700
From: ef
Subject: vasarhely


have been in vasarhely for almost a week... leaving for budapest tomorrow morning... am staying with a very nice family... the parents of attila puskas... he lives there too... these people won't let me pay for anything... his mother was vastly insulted cause i bought some grapes... a guest must not buy anything... and she is always trying to feed me... three meals a day and i am not allowed to contribute anything

i sure do love the people here... not so much the romanians of whom i know none... tho the city is now fully half romanian... a mere 20 yrs ago it was 95% hungarian... but the romanian gov't is moving romanians in like crazy... and changing street names, names of famous transylvanian writers and teachers... to romanian revolution dates, crap like that... the hungarians are very bitter... this year, for the first time, a romanian mayor... yesterday he was quoted in the paper as having announced "i can do anything i want".

so that's the political situation... as a result, the hungarians, who were the most developed culturally and socially, are getting poorer and poorer... and the young are more and more trying to get out, to hungary mainly.

the romanians hate the hungarians.... the hungarians hate the romanians.... and everyone hates the gypsies... cause the poorest of the poor are the gypsies.

this is what breaks my heart.

x, your stories are nothing compared to what goes on here, the gypsies especially, the poor ones. there are a few rich gypsies as well, they are good traders and some are craftsmen... and given the cast system existant even among gypsies, they too seem to ignore the poor. the majority. the desperate. the streetchildren. the children not yet street who are sent out by their parents to beg in order to be able to buy food for the family.

i have gotten involved with such a family. nine children, the last 4 months old, still in the hospital cause they have no milk to feed her, the oldest 14 yrs, a bright boy, misi. but he, like the others (except for a little girl of 10, whom i will explain later) are all thrown into, or warehoused, okay, a so called school where they teach them nothing. just many children in dirty rags running around learning nothing. a gypsy school, a so called "helping-school" for those deemed unteachable. which is a total lie.

so this is the family of the boy i might have mentioned, the boy who wanted a bicycle. did i mention him to you? i forget... i have been writing disorganizedly... i wish i were, you know, more able. well, when i came back here, i went to find him again, on the street. some kind people helped, steered me to a little church, streetcorner building. i made friends with the reverend, the woman one. both her and her husband are, you know, reverends. hell, i don't understand all the christian denominations etc... so i don't even try. these people were kind, so i accept them as such. they are trying to build a childrens home but the lot theychose got sold out from under them for more money. the usual crap. capitalism rears its greedy... dick.

so anyways, with help and directions... i walk to a dusty playground... a swing with sorta boats on it... two boats... and a bald little head looks out... and he hollers and jumps out... runs to hug me... as he runs more and more little bald heads peek out from the swinging boats... brothers and sisters gallore. all barefoot in filthy rags. skinny little bodies, malnourished. i am surrounded by children.

bicycle, i say.

okay, now i can't continue. i need to go outside and smoke a cigarette... can't smoke at this fucking net-cafe.

day before yesterday, while tooling around in attila's car... he tries to show me all the nice buildings and stuff... he jokingly made like he was gonna hit a dog on the road. so i broke down crying. poor attila... he had no idea, he thought he had insulted me or something. but it was just... those children. those children are on my mind an awful lot.

they live in one room with their parents... nice people, man no work, wife cannot read or write. the wife's father, gyula bacsi also lives there, in the little attached kitchen. this is what i was gonna explain before, back there, where i said about the little girl of then: gyula bacsi is raising this particular little girl himself... he and his wife took her away from mihaly and meli (the children's parents) and raised her as their own. but then his wife died... and things happened... and now he too lives with the family.

the day before yesterday he said, listen can i talk to you honestly. he said, you know, i am a gentleman... uriember. this is not how i lived. but my wife died and i am old.

this little girl, he said. she is a good little girl, and smart little girl. i raised her myself, you know, she lives here but she is mine. she goes to school, you know, a real school.

listen he said. and then he broke down in tears. listen,he sobbed. take her. please take her with you. i give her to you, take her, take her. take her to canada, get her out of here, this is all shit here, she will drown like the others. please please please. i give her to you, take her away, make her a person, this little girl whom i love so much.

goddam fuck i need that cigarette.

so that's where i am you see, i don't know what to do. i would take the child... sure, impulsive... well, it's yet another artwork, no?... a very longterm one, to make a person.

but it costs $20000 to adopt a child here... oh yes, it is a business run by the asshole romanian government... even if the child will end up a whore on the street by the time she is 12.

i am gonna try to see what i can do in hungary. i know a woman there who is a social worker. she is married to my other attila friend, the poet, who too is a gypsy. maybe they would foster the little girl, maybe we could get her to hungary somehow. i dunno. these are things i will explore there.

but you see... there are nine children. misi, katika, gyuszi, janoska, marci, margitka, bob, sziliike and the baby. and they are all barefoot.

yesterday, we bought shoes. at the market, where it's cheaper. 5 pairs of shoes for those in school.

one of the children, gyuszi, is deemed damaged, stupid. he was in an accident and then had a fever. he too goes to the horrible school and is proudly in fifth grade. but they haven't taught him anything at all, they just pass him through.

and this child is not dumb at all. he is intelligent this child. i can tell. and the other thing about this child is that he is very sensitive, more sensitive than the others. and if this child, who is now 11 gets no help, this child will go crazy. he is in so much pain, this child.

and as i said, he is not at all stupid as they think him. only... learning disabled. someone, who with just a bit of real help would... well, bloom. he would do that, this child,he would bloom, his big big heart would bloom and not break like it is doing now. oh yes, i love them all, but he is my favorite, this child.

everytime i leave he gets tears in his eyes. tries to hide them but i see.

and tomorrow i go back to budapest.

tellme tellme tellme... what should i do

about the bicycle. i ended up buying two, one for janoska, the little one i had met earlier, and one for gyuszi, he is bigger.

the next day their father traded gyuszi's for an old colour tv. but at least they kept the small one, janoskas.

don't judge this as badly as it sounds. the tv thing. yes, it's stupid. but the children get to see a world... and they get a bit of respect in the courtyard where the families live...

they took my bicycle, gyuszi says to me. i know, i say to him. we're walking down the street. he sighs and takes my hand.