Krisztina Janosi

I am staring at the letter, still in the envelope. No need to open it, I know what’s inside. The world goes blank, and my heart sinks. My brain switches off, and I am gazing into nothing, into the empty space. Into the world around me that became all gray within a second. The carpet, the shelves, the cabinets, the window, the street, the noise, the silence. The same apartment I grew up in, the same two little rooms, the same air, the same atmosphere. Everything is the same, yet two worlds apart.

At the age of 47, I am still living in the little apartment, in an old house built well before the world wars. My father bought it in the early days of his career as a craftsman in the big city. My grandfathers, grandmothers, their fathers and mothers lived in rural family houses, even had a vineyard somewhere nearby. To past generations, these vineyards fully served their purpose, which was to produce wine for the family. But, my father and his peers, working in industry, could no longer maintain this state of affairs, yet they still felt they needed land, because their fathers and grandfathers had held some, so they also had to as well, without ever questioning this tradition. However, my dad, having moved up to the capital, a metropolis, could only find reasonably priced land nearby that had not only grapes, but mostly peach trees. It must have been very very reasonably priced; it was a long and narrow plot, on a slight hill, without water or electricity, or that said, any amenities. Public transport was – and still is – scarce at the place, yet my dad spent all his free time on that piece of land.

In retrospect, he must have actually found a purpose, which was to escape from us, the family. All other land-owner neighbors had somewhat adapted to big city life, and had not much intention to use their land “as intended,” in other words, to work their asses off on it. Rather, they much preferred to look at it as a space for recreation, where they should have a small weekend house with green grass, folding chairs, camping tables and all. Not my dad. He was diligently working away after his shift in the factory. We could never go on vacation because hedidn’t want to leave the trees without irrigation, or it was time to harvest the tomatoes, peaches, or whatever else was ready to harvest. One year he crashed his car, a cornflower blue Wartburg, and because we were pretty much at the end of the company waiting list for qualifying for a car, that year we just did without. We transported the peaches to the small grocery store in buckets by bus. And not just by one bus. We had to take at least three to get to the store from that godforsaken land. As a kid, I just hated the whole thing.

When my friends talked about Balaton, the so-called Hungarian Sea, at the time a not very clean lake about a two-hour ride from Budapest, where we lived, I just sat there, biting my lips, and imagining what it could be like, knowing that if it were up to my parents, I would never ever see it. The first time I could finally soak my feet in it was the summer when I turned 12, on a school trip. I’ll never forget the strange feeling of the lakebed sand under my feet, the wooden fishing boats and the noisy crowd of East German tourists.

Not that I’d be better off now, I don’t have a car either. Today, for me it’s not that big of a deal, as the only place I go is the city, where public transport is just fine. In fact, the only place I go is the school where I teach primary-school kids. Better said, I’m trying to teach them, as more and more often I think there is just no point. I am starting to lose hope, which is a miserable feeling. But times are changing. I am getting older and older, and have less and less tolerance for the abnormal. I remember the time when I was fresh out of college.

I was so enthusiastic. I loved teaching and I loved the children. In my first class, I had almost only cute kids. Even the worst little guy was better than they come nowadays. In that class, one of the little boys always broke his hand, it was almost continuously in a cast. Another student, a little girl, had a baby sister with spina bifida, and her mum was very much distracted. I tried to help this kid a lot, and she was so grateful for it. Then there was this girl whose mum died. She lived with her father, who supposedly abused her. My heart went out to her. She had trouble with the simplest math and reading exercises, but I just could not give up on her. I still cry when I think of her.

This is the past now, however. The enthusiasm, the love and the urge to save everybody and make everything perfect is long gone. I had class after class, did what I could for the students, and all of a sudden, I realized my spirit was gone. Surely, it hadn’t disappeared, but I couldn’t recall how it faded into nothing.

(…to be continued…)

Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent

January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)

June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)

July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)

August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)

September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)

October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

November: Nine Days – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits (left side, middle – top to bottom, right side)

1. Budapest, Hungary – The doorway – Durjay Sarkar (Unsplash), 2. Szenna, Hungary – Free – Gelefin (Shutterstock), 3. Budapest, Hungary – Széll Kálmán square 2 – hbpro (Shutterstock), 4. Budapest, Hungary – Kids in primary school – A great shot of (Shutterstock), 5. Budapest, Hungary – Underground – Nelson Wong (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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