This class I have now, for these four years, started out as any other class. It was a group of nice enough little six-year-olds. When you get your new first graders, you jump in it with slightly unrealistic hopes and dreams. Then, in the first few days, reality sets in, and you can already tell which kids will be trouble. This class had a fair share, too, but it wasn’t awful, and as time progressed, I slowly eased into a routine with them. More or less, they followed my instructions, making average progress in math, reading and writing. A tranquil, almost boring period followed.
Now I have this class for the third year, which means they are third-graders. In the second year I got two gypsy students, and from then on, hell broke loose. Not that I held anything against gypsies. I am okay with them on public transport, on the beach and so on, but teaching their kids is another matter. These two gypsy boys were older than the rest of the class. Probably, they had to repeat the previous grades before. But my school is an integrated school, and as integrated schools go, they take everybody from everywhere, which is supposed to be politically correct and something to be proud of, but, in reality, I am unbelievably tired of these troublesome kids. I feel terribly sorry for them, but it doesn’t make them less difficult. Now, problem children are either from a poor family, with troubled parents, or from a very wealthy one, getting everything they want, but nothing they really need. These gypsy boys were obviously from the former group: Their family was trouble; they were trouble. At the age of ten and eleven, I just found them hopeless. This makes me sad, but nothing I tried with them worked. During breaks, they would terrorize the other kids. The other day they hung another boy on the coat pegs by his hoodie. Once, one of them outright pressed another boy to the wall, and grabbed his throat. As it turned out, a similar incident was the very reason he was kicked out of his previous school. This upset the parents of the other kids, and I was called to the principal’s office.
To my relief, the principal didn’t intend to punish me. On the contrary. She – still a remnant from the old Communist era – dismissed the parents’ charges as a lie, and took the stance that this should and absolutely must not be escalated. Given the lack of expertise and empathy, dealing with it was no option either, so the only possible course of action was to sweep it under the rug. Though she saved my job with this attitude, it still fills me with hatred for the school, for her, and for the whole system. I was left without help, and felt like I was fighting a never-ending battle with these poor gypsy boys and the parents of the other kids.
Everybody is a miserable victim in this story. At times, outrage takes over, and I feel like I should slap everybody in the face: the gypsy boys, the parents, the principal, the guys supervising the principal, the ministry workers, the local government, right up to the MPs and the ministers. But that would just make me an outcast, send me to court, possibly prison, so it was no use. The best I can currently do is to switch to survival mode. I no longer care about making things better. I only want to keep my job until retirement. I don’t have much time to go, exactly one year, which means this is my last class. I want to do it right…
Every day after school, I walk down to the park and get on the yellow, Czechoslovakian-made tram that takes me to Széll Kálmán square. I used to hate this place when I was young. Back then it was called Moscow square, always full of lowlifes looking for trouble, but also, teeming with working-class residents hurrying and minding their own business, like people in big cities usually do. The enormous socialist-realist-style subway station also gave shelter to the homeless, to the Transylvanian crones trying to sell their handmade goods, the newsagent, and, in front of it, by the huge clock in the middle of the square, unemployed day laborers would loiter in the hope of finding jobs in construction or other, equally low-prestige, yet cash-paying areas. I get off the tram. Nowadays, the square is a little quieter, or I have just gotten used to the hustle and bustle over the years. It’s still a hub for working-class public transport commuters, and some street musicians scattered across it continue to make their music in the hope of some change. One corner has been taken over by an old, bearded homeless guy with an accordion, on which he is usually playing a terrible rendering of children’s songs. But playing terrible music is not only for hobos, and is sometimes balanced out. In the other corner, on a sidewalk island, as we say, a young, student-like fellow is entertaining the crowds with a dulcimer. This sounds way better. Sometimes I even throw some change in the case he puts out.
The spacious subway station is now empty, only a ticket machine and a bakery stand are allowed. The whole square has been refurbished lately, but to be honest, as opposed to the expectations the construction’s PR triggered in the ordinary citizen, this extensive renovation didn’t improve much about its appearance. I just hate it that contemporary architecture design is so minimalist that I can’t help comparing it to the old ways of socialist realism. Before reconstruction, everything was concrete-grey, and after the reconstruction, voila, everything is raw-concrete-grey. To break the monotonous colorlessness, some flowerbeds are built right next to the tram stations, and, on the concrete edges of those flowerbeds, some crazy little brass snail sculptures are meant to entertain people. From a distance, they pretty much look like dog-pooh, so they most probably serve the purpose adequately. As I later found out, they are the work of an underground artist named Mihály Kolodko, who, for some reason, scattered his otherwise cute little sculptures everywhere around town. Some of them are of popular old-timers like this handyman goat from an old puppet series, or another little one from a commercial store advertisement. Some others are mini copies of heroes or famous people, real guerilla art. I am passing one of these tiny sculptures as I go alongside the tram station right to the other corner of the square. I am walking to the little apartment my dad bequeathed me. It is on Margaret Boulevard, the largest road in District II, home of the rich and famous.
This particular neighborhood is not very luxurious. In fact, it’s rather the opposite. The smoke from cars, trucks and buses settles in the street, which is basically a valley between Rózsadomb and Castle Hill, and accommodates mostly Chinese shops, Turkish kebab buffets, filthy pubs, second-hand shops on the ground floors of the old, five- or six-level, turn-of-the-century style, yellow-painted buildings. The long, circle-shaped tram line traversing the entire city also has a few stops in the area, attracting all sorts of people from all over the place, and these crowds don’t help the problem of cleanliness or noise either. In the summer, the valley traps the heat, and combined with the smog, this makes the air unbreathable. Right where the avenue branches off of Széna Square, which is directly adjacent to Széll Kálmán Square, there is an air quality meter. I seriously wondered how the indicator could ever get in the green zone at first. The initial surprise I had when I first found out that the air quality was still good disappeared, when, after a few weeks of monitoring, the meter didn’t reach the red zone once.
(…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