Dezső Kosztolányi: In which, Kücsük the turkish girl, who is so similar to a honey-cake appears

In which, Kücsük the turkish girl, who is so similar to a honey-cake appears

  • I was rushing on the East train-narreted Kornél Esti-on my way home, in a hot summer.

In the first class, curtained off cabine, I wass sitting in, beside myself, three turkish women were travelling, three out-and-out turkish, modern women without neither veils nor prejudice. The grandmother, the mother and a 15-year-old little maiden, who was called
 “ Kücsük”, so “ Kicsi” or “ Kicsike” ( Hungarian word “kicsi” means “ little”. edit.)

I was delighting this lovely family. Grandmother, mother and daughter have shared each other’s company, like on some mount of the Alpes, winter, summer and spring do.

Grandmother, an 80-year-old lanky matrone, in a black dress, was sleeping on the couch, with huge black pearls on her neck. In her drams she was talking in turkish. She sometimes nervously lifted her hand- swelling with violet venes, full of wrinkles- to her face, because whe used to wear veil most of the time in her life, and even in her dreams, she felt her gace being unpolitely naked.

So much more modern was the mother. She was almost protesting with her modernism. Her hair- that used to be raven- black- she dyed hay-blonde. She was open hearted. She was enjoying cigarette after ciarette.With the controller-officer, who stepped in she - democraticly- shaked hands. By the way she was reading the latest book of Paul Valéry.

Kücsük was like a pink-white cookie with honey. She was wearing a pink dress, made of silk, and her face was so white as milk. Her hair was dyes hay-blonde too. In every pont she seemed to be a perfect pupil of his mother. She almost felt emberassed of being turkish. Only the red leather slippers told this, which she put on for travelling,and the lot of bunch of roses, that she brought along, that large amount of flaming-red, bleeing roses from Istambul, that were so fragranced since the dawn in this cabine, and so her angora cet, under whom s turkish carpet was spread, her blue-eyed, deaf angora cat, above who’s dreams she was gently watching over.

Mohamed came to my mind, her touching, good prophet, who once, when his cat surrendered to sleep on his cloak, instead of awakening the beloved kitten, cut the corner of his cloak.

They were on the way to Wien, then to Berlin, Paris and finally to London. They were magically cultured. The girl was talking about vitamine B and C and the mother about Jung  and Adler, the new, heretic theorys about psichoanalysis. 

They spoke every language perfectly. Started with French, the purest languga of literature, then changed to argot, a little after they mixed it with German - Berlin and Lerchenfeld dialect varied- but meanwhile they spoke English and Italian too. They weren’t showing off with it at all. Just were they happy as children, who who made themselves understood, even in Western- Europan company, and acting anywhere exactly like at home, suceeding. Their wish was to be taken seriously and to be considered Westren-Eurpean.

I would have liked them to be given to understand that they might overestimate Western-Europe, and I am not so ecstatic about this culture as they are. But I gave up this idea. Why shall I hurt their happiness?

I showed them instead my eight pens that I always hold in my pocket, and my two golden molan-teeth that I also always keep in my mouth, I bragged, that my blood-pressure is high and the majority of my relatives had had an appendix surgery. I always to to everyone as it is required.

It was highly effective.

Kücsük was smiling, staring at me with her dark fairy-eyes, with so upright, open honesty, that she had me embarassed. I did not know what she wanted. At first, i thought she was making fun of me. But later she grabbed my hands, and pulled them to her heart. A pigeon could attack a hawk like this. 

In all of this there was neither flirting nor decadence. She thought, educated, modern Western-European girls act like this, with men, they have just met on the train. Thus I was trying to act like an educated, modern Western-European man in a similar situation.

Her mother saw this, but did not pay attention on us. She- as I have mentioned-was sinking into Paul Valéry.

We went outside, to the passageway. There we were chasing around, laughing, holding each other’s hand. Later, leaning on the elbows in the windows of the train. And so I was courting her:
  • You are the very first one- I adressed her familiarly- the first turkish girl I have met. Kücsük, Kicsi, my little darling, I love you. Long ago in school I learned about the battle of Mohács. I know, your ancestors shed the blood of my ancestors and they were keeping us as miserable slaved, for 150 years. Nevertheless I would be your you convict, your slave, I would pay you taxes, you my sweet enemy, my sweet relative of the East. Do you know what? Make peace. I’ve never been angry with your nation, because we got our most beautiful word from it, those word, without I would be feel so much sorrow. I am a poet, lover of words, fool of words. You gave us the word “gyöngy “ (pearl) and this “tükör” (mirror) and also this “koporsó” (coffin). You, pearl shine in the mirror of my soul, until my coffin closes. Do you understant if I say: “gyűrű” (ring) “gyűszű” ( thimbe) “búza” (wheat) “bor” (wine). How would’n you, understand for these are your words, and also the letters, the writing from which I live. My ring you, my thimble, nourishing wheat of me, intoxicating wine of me.I can thank our most ornamented 330 words to you. I have been searching for long, for someone, someone turkish, to whom I could expound my neverending gratitude, and at least I could pay back this dept of words, I could pay off this linguistical dept which has alredy yield interest so much and so much...

So I was flaming, enthuising, when suddenly the train of our’s pierced into a dark tunnel. Kücsük gently fainted towards me. And I - fast and wild- started to kiss her lips.

If I remember well, I gave her exactly 330 kisses.

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