The Other Shore

CD 1999
Leo Records CD LR 281
Bahia Music CDB 058
[various compositions 1992-97]

The other Shore
The other Shore
1. The Other Shore (1997) 20’02”

2. Symultan (1995/96) 18’51”

3. Gull (1992) 16’40”
choral variation for string quartet and tabla

The Other Shore – mp3 extract 1′ 43″

The Gordian Knot Company; Moyzes Quartet; Péter Szalai

The Other Shore (1997) 20’02”
for human voices and small ensemble

The Gordian Knot Company:
Tibor Szemző –conductor, bassflute; Ildikó Fodor – violine; Fruzsina Jaán – viola; Mariann Pleszkán – cello; István Pápai – maracas; Péter Magyar – drums; Marcell Benkő – congas; Tamás Tóth – electric bass
people of the Kyoto Kiyomizu-dera temple – recitation; Ônishi Ryôkei – voice

ecorded at HEAR Studio, 17th December 1997 by István Horváth
Special thanks to Márton B. Balogh and Teri Losonci

Symultan (1995/96)    18’51”
for human voices and different sound

the Szatmárcseke Gipsy community and the Mursa couple – text; anonymous male singer from Kétegyháza – voice; Tibor Szemző – sound devices and bassflute
The recording made of the Hitler-ballad was collected in Kétagháza by Kamill Erdös [1924-1962], presumably recorded in 1956
The text was recorded in Szatmárcseke on the 5th and 6th of September 1995 by Tibor Szemző
completed at HEAR Studio, 11-18th March 1996 by István Horváth
Many thanks to János Decsényi, Andrei Schwartz, Gábor Sarudi, Károly Bari and István Szigeti for their help offered to complete out this piece.

Gull (1992) 16’40”
choral variation for string quartet and tabla

The Moyzes Quartet: Stanislav Mucha – 1st violin; František Török – 2nd violin; Alexander Lakatoš – viola; Ján Slávik – cello;
Péter Szalai – tabla

recorded at Hungarian Radio Studios, 20th November 1998 by István Horváth
Thanks to István Bálint
The recording of this piece was made possible by the Soros Foundation Budapest

All music composed by Tibor Szemző c&p Biem/Artisjus
Artwork by Kiff Doso, Y21 Studio 1999 c
Cover Photos from the films ‘The Other Shore’ and ‘The Bench’, by Tibor Szemző

Produced by Leo Feigin and Attila Bognár
Executive producers: Ernő Mesterházy and Géza Földesi





Chapter XXV

The All-Sidedness of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of the-Cries-of-the-World

At that time the Bodhisattva Infinite-Thought rose up from his seat, and baring his right shoulder and folding his hands towards the Buddha, spoke thus : “World-honoured One! For what reason is the Bodhisattva Kannnon named Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World?”
The Buddha answered the Bodhisattva Infinite-Thought: “Good son! If there be countless hundreds thousands myriads of koţis of living beings suffering from pain and distress, who hear of this Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, and with all their mind call upon his name, the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World will instantly regard their cries, and all of them will be delivered.
“If there be any who keep the name of that Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of the-World, though they fall into a great fire, the fire will not be able to burn them, by virtue of the supernatural power of that bodhisattva’s majesty. If any, carried away by a flood, call upon his name, they will immediately reach the shallows. If there be hundreds thousands myriads of koţis of beings who in search of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, moonstones, agate, corals, amber, pearls, and other treasures, go out on the ocean, and if a black gale blows their ships to drift upon the land of the răkshasa-demons, and if amongst them there be even a single person who calls upon the name of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, all those people will be delivered from the woes of the răkshasas. It is for this cause that (he) is named Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World.
“If again there be any man on the verge of {deadly) harm, who calls upon the name of the Bodhisattva Regarder-ol-the-Cries-of-the-World, the sword of the attaeker will instantly snap asunder and he will be set free. Even if the three-thousand-great-thousandfold world were full of yakshas and răkshasas seeking to afflict people, these wicked demons, hearing them call upon the name of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, would be able to see them with (their} wicked eyes, how mueh less to hurt them.
“If, moreover, there be anyone, guilty or not guilty, loaded with manacles, fetters, cangues, or chains, who calls on the name of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, they shall a11 be snapped and broken off, and he shall be freed.
“If the three-thousand-great-thousandfold world were full of enemies and robbers, and there were a merchant-chief, who led many merchants, having charge of costly jewels, along a perilous road, and among them one man speaks forth: ‘Good sons! Be not afraid. With one mind do you invoke the title of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World; for this Bodhisattva is able to give courage to all the living. If you invoke his name, you will be freed from these enemies and robbers.’ On hearing this, if all the traders together with one voice cry, `Namah ! Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of the-World!’, then, by invoking his name, they will be relieved. Infinite-Thought ! Such is the awe-inspiring supernatural power of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World.
“If any living beings, much given to carnal passion, keep in mind and revere the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, they will be set free from their passion. If any, much given to irascibility, keep in mind and revere the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, they will be set free from their irascibility. If any, much given to infatuation, keep in mind and revere the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, they will be set free from their infatuation. Infinite-Thought ! Such are the abundant benefits conferred by the supernatural power of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World. Gonsequently, let all the living ever keep him in mind:
“If any woman desiring a son, worships and pays homage to the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, she will bear a son, happy, virtuous and wise. If she desires a daughter, she will bear a daughter, of good demeanour and looks, who of old has planted virtuous roots, beloved and respected by all. Infinite-Thought ! Such is the power of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World. If any of the living revere and worship the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Gries-of-the-World, blessings will not be rudely rejected.
“Therefore, let all the living cherish, the title of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Gries-of-the-World. Infinite-Thought! Suppose, any one cherishes the names of bodhisattvas (numerous as) the sands of sixty-two koţis of the Ganges, who all his life makes them offerings of food, drink. garments, bedding, and medicaments,-what is your opinion-are not the merits of that good son or good daughter abundant?” Infinite-Thought replied: “Extremely abundant!” The World-honoured One, the Buddha proceeded : “But if (any) one cherishes the title of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, or only for a moment worships and reveres him, the blessings of these two men will be exactly equal without difference, and cannot be exhausted in hundreds thousands myriads of koţis of kalpas. Infinite-Thought ! Such is the immeasurable, boundless degree of blessedness he will obtain who cherishes the name of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World.”
The Bodhisattva Infinite-Thouht {again) said to the Buddha:”World-honoured One! How is it that the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of the-World wanders in this sahâ-world? How does he preach the Law to the living? What is the character of his tactfulness ?
The Buddha replied to the Bodhisattva Infinite-Thought: “Good son! If the living in any realm must be saved in the body of a buddha, the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World appears as a buddha and reaches to them the Law.To those who must be saved in the body of a pratyekabuddha,he appears as a pratyekabuddha and preaehes to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a śrâvaka, he appears as a śrâvaka and preaches to them the Law. To those .who must be saved in the body of Brahma, he appears as Brahma and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of Śakra, he appears as Śakra and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of Iśvara, he appears as Iśvara and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of Maheśvara, he appears as Maheśvara and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a great divine-general, he appears as a great divine-general and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of Vaiśravana, he appears as Vaiśravana and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a minor king, he appears as a minor king and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of an elder, he appears as an elder and reaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a citizen, he appears as a citizen and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a minister of state, he appears as a minister and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a Brahman, he appears as a Brahman and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a bhikshu, bhikshuni, upăsaka, or upăsikă, he appears as a bhikshu, bhikshuni, upăsaka, or upăsikă, and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of the wife of an elder, citizen, minister, or Brahman, he appears as a woman and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a youth or maiden, he appears as a youth or maiden and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in the body of a god, dragon, yakşha, gandharva, asura, garuda, kimnara, mahoraga, human or non-human being, he appears in every such form and preaches to them the Law. To those who must be saved in (the shape of) a Diamond-holding god, he appears as a Diamond-holding god and preaches to them the Law. InfiniteThought! Such are the merits acquired by this Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World and the various forms in which he rambles through many lands to save the living. Therefore; do you with single mind pay homage to the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World. This Bodhisattva-Mahăsattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World is able to make fearless those in anxiety and distress. For this reason all in this sahă-world give him the title Bestower-of-Fearlessness.”
The Bodhisattva Infinite-Thought said to the Buddha: “World-honoured One! Let me now make an offering to the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World.”
Thereupon he unloosed from his neck a necklace of pearls worth a hundred thousand taels of gold and presented it to him making this remark : “Good sir! Accept this pious gift of a pearl necklace.”But the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-Worid would not accept it.
Again the Bodhisattva Infinite-Thought addressed the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Crics-of-the-World : “Good sir! Out of compassion for us;, accept this necklace.” Then the Buddha said to the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Gries-of-the-World: “Out of compassion for this Bodhisattva Infinite-Thought and the four groups, and for the gods, dragons,yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and non-human beings, and others, accept this necklace.” Then the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, compassionating all the four groups and the gods, dragons, human and non-human beings, and others, accepted the necklace, and dividing it into two parts, offered one part to Sakyamuni Buddha and offered the other to the Stupa of the Buddha Abundant-Treasures.
“Infinite-Thought! With such sovereign supernatural powers does the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World wander through the sahă-world.”
Then the Bodhisattva Infinite-Thought made enquiry thus in verse:

“The World-honoured One with all the mystic signs !
Let me now again enquire of Him :
`For what cause is this Buddha-son named
Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World?’ ”

The Honoured One with all the mystic signs answered Infinite-Thought in verse:

“Listen to the deeds of the Cry-Regarder,
Who well responds to every quarter;
His vast vow is deep as the sea,
Inconceivable in its aeons.
Serving many thousands of koţis of buddhas,
He has vowed a great pure vow.
Let Me briefly teil you.
(He who) hears his name, and sees him,
And bears him unremittingly in mind,
Will be able to end the sorrows of existence.
Though (others) with harmful intent
Throw him into a burning pit,
Let him think of the Cry-Regarder’s power,
And the fire-pit will become a pool.
Or driven along a great ocean,
In peril of dragons, fishes and demons,
Let him think of the Cry-Regarder’s power
And waves cannot submerge him.
Or if, from the peak of Sumeru,
Men would hurl him down,
Let him think of the Cry-Regarder’s power,
And like the sun he will stand firm in the sky.
Or if, pursued by wicked men,
And cast down from Mount Diamond,
He thinks of the Cry-Regarder’s power,
Not a hair shall be injured.
Or, meeting with encompassing foes,
Each with drawn sword to strlke him,
He thinks of the Cry-Regarder’s power,
All their hearts will turn to kindness.
Or, meeting suffering by royal (command),
His life is to end in execution,
He thinks of the Cry-Regarder’s power,
(The executioner’s) sword wlll break ln pieces.
Or, imprisoned, shackled and chained,
Arms and legs in gyves and stocks,
He thinks of the Gry-Regarder’s power,
Freely he shall be released.
Or if, by incantations and poisons
One seeks to hurt his body,
And he thinks of the Cry-Regarder’s power,
All will revert to their originator.
Or, meeting evil răkshasas,
Venomous dragons, and demons,
He thinks of the Gry-Regarder’s power,
At once none will dare to hurt him.
If, encompassed by evll beasts,
Tusks sharp and fearful claws,
He thinks of the Gr y-Regarder’s power,
They will flee in every direction.
Or boas, vipers and scorpions
Breath poisonous as fire-flame scorching,
And he thinks of the Cry-Regarder’s power
Instant at his voice they will retreat.
Glouds thunder and lightning flashes,
Hail falls and rain streams,
He thinks of the Cry-Regarder’s power
And all instantly are scattered.
The living crushed and harassed,
Oppressed by countless pains,
The Cry-Regarder ivith his mystic wisdom
Can save (such) a sufferzng world.
Perfect in sugernatural powers,
Widely practised in wisdom and tact,
In the lands of the universe there is no place
Where he does not manifest himself.
All the evil states of existence,
Hells, ghosts, and anlmals,
Sorrows of birth, age, disease, death,
All by degrees are ended by him.
True regard, serene regard,
Far-reaching wise regard,
Regard of pity, compassionate regard,
Ever longed for, ever looked for!
Pure and serene in radiance,
Wisdom’s sun destroying darkness,
Subduer of wocs of storm and fire,
Who illumines all the world!
Law of pity, thunder quivering,
Compassion wondrous as a great cloud,
Pouring spiritual rain like nectar,
Quenching the flames of distress!
In disputes before a magistrale,
Or in fear in battle’s array ,
If he thinks of the Cry-Regarder’s power
All his enemies will be routed.
His is the wondrous voice, voice of the world-regarder,
Brahma-voice, voice of the rolling tide,
Voice all world-surpassing,
Therefore ever to be kept in mind,
With never a doubting thought.
Regarder of the World’s Cries, pure and holy,
In pain, distress, death, calamity,
Able to be a sure reliance,
Perfect in all merit,
With compassionate eyes beholding all,
Boundless ocean of blessings!
Prostrate let us revere him.”

Thereupon the Bodhisattva ,Stage-Holder rose from his seat, went before and said to the Buddha: “World-honoured One ! If any living being hears of the sovereign work and the all-sided transcendent powers (shown in) this chapter of the Bodhisattva Regarder-of-the-Cries-of-the-World, it should be known that the merits of this man are not a few.”
While the Buddha preached this chapter of the All-sided One, the eighty-four thousand living beings in the assembly all set their minds upon Perfect Enlightenment, with which nothing can compare.


A fragment of the lecture on Kannon- Kyô by the Buddhist priest Ônishi Ryôkei:

“From now on I would like to talk to you about the religion of Kannon (the God of Mercy).
Being an old man, I will not be able to give you a proper lecture or something like a speech or like a sermon or any kind of difficult thing like these any more, but really just like a face-to-face chat at the most; and I am hoping
for your kind understanding in this respect.
First, I think I would like to tell you something about the meaning of the word “Kannon” in the Kannon religion. The Chinese character “kan” of “Kannon”, you know, is the character that means “to see”, you know, “to see.”


shared text, man-woman
Before us the letter G

a child is singing in the courtyard:
…Mummy, Daddy, Pap…

the voice of a man:
You’re goin’ a get a spanking lass…

I’ll be a-picking a lot of flowers, if you’ll accept them, all right,
luv’? Michaelmas daisies from over there. Well, see, this is it, this
is what our life is like, you see? This is how he brings me the water
with his two bare hands, and he’s all shaking when he’s bringing it
inside. I have to do everything meself.

Me arms are all painful they are, it’s me joints, like, I can’t work
with me arms, see, they’re all rheumatic. And if you’d be so good as to
hold it here, see, I’ve backbone-vertebra -spondylosthesis, what d’you
call them. And that is how me bones are all calcified. Go ahead and
touch it, right here.

a group of women:
1. Before us the letter G, it’s the end, the end of the stick for us,
we’re all done for. Even if we do like them, if we walk like the gents
and masters, they only need a carriage under them, then they’ll be
floating in it like. It’s still the letter G before us, it’s the end,
it is. Like the end of a stick. Because the letter G is right here
before us. A pity that is. The letter G is on it.
2. Because the little girl’s birth certificate, when it was made out
got the letter G on it, that’s what, the moment we was born, all right.
3. But why, what for, then?
2. ‘Cause she’s a gypsy, that’s why.
1. They wouldn’t tell me she be a gypsy child! That letter G, though,
that letter G…
2. They’d be telling this one all right, because she’s a dark girl, she
is a dark girl.
1. The letter G… when they used to go to school here, when they
finished school, all eight years of it, the elementary school, they
would not take ’em on, would not give ’em jobs, see, because the moment
she was asked about her name and she told ‘em it was all over. She
could go, she wasn’t wanted anymore. Because we are gypsies, that’s
why. Right, Zsófi? Ain’t that so, Zsófi? That’s our fate, lass, that’s
how we’re going to live and lose…

We lived a poor and miserable life

I only finished three years of school. We lived such a miserable and
poor life in Hungary. That’s how the expression ‘gypsies’ came about.
Unfortunately, gypsies were very poorly dressed; didn’t have many
clothes. Our parents couldn’t send us to school. I only went to school
for three years. When I was thirteen I left school, because my father
used to gather in the crops on the big estates, in the manors, used to
reap the wheat for bread. I had to help him, had to give him a hand in
making a living when I was twelve years old, to earn my bread, so to
speak. That’s how I lived my life. I served different masters, worked
for different farmers. For some I had to do some hoeing, two days,
three days; it varied depending on for how long they needed to hire me
and how much time was needed to do the work – until I reached the age
of eighteen, when I was liable to be called up for military service.

Terrible cold

Then I was called up and joined the army on September 5th, 1943, on my birthday, that was. The war was at its best, or stood at its worst, I should rather say. That was when the war was at its best. Like this, with the hearing defect that I have, ’cause I served my motherland. The
war ended on April 4th, 1945 on which day we decided to have a feast, as it was called liberation day, the holiday of liberation. Then we got dragged off to camp, from labour camp to labour camp. That’s what got my teeth knocked out of my mouth.
That terrible cold. In the end I served two and a half years, I did, that’s when Mátyás Rákosi was the ruling prince of Hungary. He got out from the Soviet Union, right, and then asked the Russian army in and with him was the prince of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin. He spoke
with Stalin in person – said that he would heal every aching heart in Hungary. But he would only care for them Hungarians. Let the German prince be concerned with the German prisoners-of-war. That’s how I came home after two and a half years, and here, at home again I was on the sick list for another year. After a while it came back, I recovered and my health got better; I was myself once again. After one year, that is, after medical treatment. Not that I want to brag about it, I don’t intend to boast of it, but you can see how I am. I’m seventy-three,
turned seventy-three yesterday. On September 5. I still try to battle life, still struggle on. What can I do? I’m a miserable fellow, a wretched old man. I’m crawling on all fours, creeping on my arse in the garden, that’s how I do the weeding, but I show them that I’m still alive. I don’t shun work, see, I rather face it instead. That’s the way it is, I face work and take what there is to take.

When was life like this?

Communism an’ that: it was Kádár who brought that kind of life to Hungary. Kádár brought it in but we have nothing to complain about.
Because he used to visit the factories, he did, and even spoke in person with his people. Are you happy with the money you make? Are you satisfied with your wages? Do you live well? How many families have you got? This home, I would never have got this home under the previous regime. I got this home on credit from the OTP National Savings Bank. A
miserable little house used to be here for many years, for twenty-six years, it belonged to a peasant, to a farmer. I even went to the Ministry, to make a complaint. Saying that I can’t save; I have nine children to rear, I can’t save enough money to buy this flat, but I made an agreement with this and the other. We agreed on forty-two thousand forints, could the Ministry help? How could I buy the flat?
That’s when they offered me the OTP loan. When was life like this? Even if you’re not asking me anymore, I’m going to tell you more about it, all the same. When was life such that a poor bumpkin, a peasant like me, knowing, saying that we are gypsies, too, gypsies[…].But he has
the opportunity, he can send his children to school. If they learn well, they can go on to higher education, to superior schools. They can become teachers, or they can become architects, or whatnot: whatever they like. Whatever they decide. But it wasn’t like this in the past.
Did gypsies or poor peasants have a chance like this? No. Only the rich ones, the prosperous people.
There are railway-road masters and ground-men, we have doctors and they’re gypsies, too! Not peasant Hungarians, no, or, well, like that there never was a Gypsy Country. It’s just that we are called gypsies, but according to the rules we are Hungarian subjects. Now I have the
chance, I’ve been given the same opportunity as the big-time farmers in the village, like anyone in the community. As long as there’s brains, grey matter. You just need to be able to learn, that’s all.

I’ve told you how many of my dead I have buried. Two of my children. My brother-in-law, my son-in-law, one of my grandchildren, my mother, my father, my father-in-law and my mother-in-law, but never, not even once did I go to the mayor or to the town-hall to hit the table, to ask for some loan, to demand that they give me some kind of a loan, because I
cannot bury [my dead]. I’ve always paid for the funerals right from my own pocket.

I used to be a deputy gendarme, too

Let me tell you something else, too. I have to tell you this. I won’t
give the whole thing away, because the locals here know me. I used to
be a deputy gendarme, too, a police constable, you know. I’ll tell you
all the same, it don’t matter. The constabulary wasn’t quite enough,
there used to be two gendarmes here too, right here, who both know that
I was a gendarme myself. There was a firing squad, they used to execute
the Jews with the squad. But they couldn’t get me into it, they
couldn’t make ,couldn’t obligate me to do that. I accepted being a
deputy gendarme. I recruited people, enlisted them, that’s true, and I
escorted them as well, all right, I told them to shut up and keep
quiet. That’s true, why, I can’t deny that. But I did not accept the
firing squad, I said no to that. Because they had to hang, they had to
shoot too. They executed in the great Germany, in Auschwitz. They had
to burn people in the gas chambers. Well, I don’t know really, please
forgive me, you’re far too young compared to me. But perhaps you can go
and ask your Dad or Granddad that …that I was here, that I came to
Szatmárcseke, and you check that that man did not tell a lie, did not
offer you an untruth. This was the simple, honest truth. I did not
accept being part of the squad. I said to myself that I am liable for
conscription and as long as I’m of military age, they can do what they
please with me. But I said no to the firing squad, I did. They didn’t
force me into it. Whoever wanted to be a member of the firing squad had
an arrowed swastika, kind of stamped under his left armpit. It was
imprinted on their skin. That was the only way they could become part
of the firing squad. Or swastika-wearers, Hungarian fascists, you know.
But that man, the one who was an arrow-band wearing nazi, it didn’t
matter if he only had a bare collar without stripes. He was made into
sergeant straight away. Two of his teeth were missing, so they gave him
teeth. He used to wear a wristwatch too. He had a gun at his side and
carried one over his shoulder too. If he didn’t like me, if he couldn’t
stand my face, it didn’t matter if I hadn’t done any harm, hadn’t hurt
anyone. I was on my way, walking home, ’cause I had got my [soldier’s]
pay and had a glass of wine. Anyhow, if he didn’t take to me, if he
couldn’t stand the sight of me, and chose to shoot me, then he would
only be held responsible up there. [They would ask]: Why did you shoot
him dead? So I had to watch all this, had to go through all this. Well,
I don’t care, I’m going to tell you all the same: you just listen to
me. I got my hearing defect from Máramaros county – I was born in Csík
county myself-. But I had to serve, my military service was for Huszt,
that’s where I was taken from to Máramaros island. There I was made
into a gendarme, got dressed up as one, so to speak, was provided with
the clothes of a gendarme. If I had tried to tell them off, no, they
would have put the gun straight into my mouth and would have shot me on
the spot. They would have said, see, that I’m in agreement with the
Jews, that I’m taking side with the Jews. It was my duty to accept the
post, but I said no to the death squad. I told them that I can’t take
it, that I couldn’t do it. No, I could not accept it. While I was a
soldier liable for conscription, as long as I was in military service I
took on the post of deputy gendarme, considering that the police was
not sufficient. One soldier, one gendarme. A soldier, a policeman. We
took 2600 Jews inwards from Máramaros county to the Western part. There
a German command would take them over from us. A soldier, a gendarme.
If by any chance my father had been there; and had there been another
gendarme standing by my side, like; and had I happened to notice; had I
seen my father crossing at the zebra crossing; then if I didn’t shoot
him, they’d have put a gun straight in my mouth. Alas, I was obliged to
do everything I had to do: it was my duty, my obligation. Anyway, they
knew this, that this is not compulsory, only if one does it willingly,
voluntarily, I mean. So I said no, I told them that I would not do
this, I didn’t accept the squad thing.

Jewish synagogue

There is nothing that I don’t know. Hitler’s wife, she was a Jewish
girl. First she was his typist, his cleaning woman. Then she was his
secretary or typist, and in the end he took her with him everywhere he
went – by car, without any protest or anything. It was a kind of
appreciation, an acknowledgement of her services that she became his
wife. But she had two brothers in the Jewish church, she had, in the
seventh district synagogue. Do you believe me? Do you see that I really
know everything? Auschwitz. Do you know whereabouts that is in Germany?
A gas chamber was built there. The gas chamber looked like baths; it
was made to look like a baths. But it wasn’t really. Instead it was
burning gas. Those who were incapable, weren’t able to work, like, were
old or under age. To them they said, in the bath with you! But it
wasn’t a bath: it was burning with gas. His wife, who was a Jew, a
brother of hers was still in the church of the seventh’s district; in
the Jewish synagogue, he was. And she told him, see: How will you shut
your eyes to this? What’s your excuse for bringing my brother here, to
have him burned? Why don’t you shoot me dead, too? Why don’t you kill
yourself, too? And it is said that that’s what Hitler did, killed first
the wife, then himself.

Oh, well, these are the kind of things that happened. You can ask me
anything. I know everything. You can wander all over Szatmárcseke, no
one can tell you as much as me, nobody can tell you this much. And if
I’ve told you a lie, I’d tell you to put the handcuffs here, then,
right here on me wrists. I will tell you anyway, all that was true, all
that was perfectly true. I won’t add to it, won’t take away from it,
either. I’m only going to tell you what is true.
What are you cooking, Mum?


I’ll show you something, will you please have a look? What my children
are like, what my family is like. This one’s husband, who died two
years ago [her daughter cuts in: Three years ago. Not two, three years
ago. [Man starts].

I have to. There were a lot of gypsies then, and I simply couldn’t
stand that, because my family was a family of musicians, too. We lived
in Tiszakardos and Jenkmartyos. I had a brother who played the violin
at the restaurant. Well, there was this family I didn’t like, this
gypsy family, and told my husband that I’m going to get away from here,
that I’ll be getting out of here, I won’t stay here any longer. And
then I bought this flat, here, and I had a flat over there, a flat like
this, with a veranda outside. It was built in, covered with vine, like
this, and had a well too; it had everything. Anyway, we lived here for
a while – I’m in my forty-fifth year now – the forty-sixth. My
children, I had nine of them, I used to write it down here, because
there was only a single Hungarian here, there was a Hungarian here by
my side (my neighbour) – the rest are all gypsies. There weren’t gypsy
ghettos in those times, there wasn’t one like this one here, this
ghetto is quite new. This was where they were put under Kádár, in his

Anyway, we left that place and came up here. I used to have a big tiled
flat down there, too. I sold that one. My brother-in-law bought it for
a lousy six thousand forints. It had a room and a kitchen. Had a
pantry, a bathroom. I sold it and bought this flat here, see. I bought
this one to get away from that place, to leave it behind at all costs.
I didn’t think that gypsies would become my neighbours. I took my child
out and myself, left that place to come here and live my life here, to
live a better life. Now I’ve been living here for sixteen … almost
forty-six years now, I’ve been treading this ground here, they will
build here one day. They came here with these things… said that they
would build this kind of, what’s it called, this railway sort of thing.
They came and started to drive in piles, to stick stakes in the ground.
So I started to make inquiries about this, asked them why they were
driving in the piles and later on they told me that there would be a
railway here, said that this flat would be pulled down. Oh, yes, but I
had taken down the flat myself, why, because I had a big family, and
that flat wasn’t big enough for us, so we pulled that one down, and we
built this one unaided, on our own, with the minist… with Kádár’s
help. I was really happy to have this. I have a small room, a big room,
a bathroom, a pantry, even an entrance-hall, you can see what we’ve
got, this is what we built in Kádár’s time, this thing, the room, I
pulled that down. That’s when the gypsies came here, later, to live. I
told my husband, I said to him, well, this is no good for me, I don’t
like it here either. I’m going to leave this place, I’m going to get
away. Then he says, don’t you be out of your head, woman, don’t you be
mad, with a garden like this, with them downs here? Well, I’m leaving,
because I can’t stand them, don’t you see, my husband can’t stand them
neither, no, he won’t let a child stop here, but he’s right all right,
because they keep rippin’ and pickin’ them flowers, and, forgive me for
saying so, but they dirty the soil with their dung next to the well,
they can’t go near my well, they can’t, ’cause it’s kept in order,
right, kept clean, see, and I ain’t gonna pay for them… every month,
to… I pay the road money, they charge me, but to pay every month…?
So this system, this regime is–‘em-for-us, – let’s say – because we’re
the way we are, ’cause it’s not easy to say it as it is, but we feel
like … that I, that we can’t bear what the gypsies can bear … they
keep cryin’, they keep wailing, well why shouldn’t I be crying then…?
But I ‘m not crying, no, unfortunately, because I have everything I
need, thank God that I’m well off, that I can afford this, I pull the
blanket down to my feet, as we say. I wrap the blanket down to my feet,
if you know what I’m saying, right ? … you can cover yourself as long
and as far as the blanket covers you, right? But I have everything,
thank God for that. The mayor don’t help me, that’s true, I’ve told
them a hundred times before, haven’t I? When I went to see him and told
him, mister mayor, sir, do you have a moment to spare? I’d like to have
a word with you, so to speak…[then he would reply]: I’ll be right
back, aunty Rózsika, but he just keeps walking on. If a dirty gypsy
woman is walking past him, who’s grubby with dirt, he stops dead, stops
for her sake, but tell me, why? Because he’s afraid of getting soiled,
he don’t want to get soiled, oh, no, he stops instead… I’ve told the
mayor squarely, eye to eye that this is the way it is, I’ve told him
this, absolutely so. And now there’s also the money for the school …
my poor little mite, bless his soul, my child has only been registered
here temporarily, like, well, why didn’t the poor child get any money,
why didn’t they give the child any money? We had to send him to school,
had to pay all the time, because he’s been learning, going to school
for two years, no, for three years. This is his fourth year; he has one
more year to study, well, why didn’t the mayor give him any money then?
He gave all the others… Why was it only my poor child who couldn’t
get any money? Why didn’t they have any for him, poor soul, why don’t I
have money to buy him a pair of shoes, eh?… Or a pair of trousers, a
pair of pants, so that he can go to school?… Or if he’s studying, if
he’s going to school, studying to be a house-painter, a decorator, to
become a car sprayer. Don’t they be needing anything then, so that they
can put something on, doesn’t he need any clothes? …That child? …
Have you seen him ? … Did you see him, the way he was dressed at his
father’s funeral, the way he looked?… Well, didn’t he show a gypsy
face, didn’t he look like one?.. But his brother is taking care of him,
bringing him up, his big brother. My son has five children, the sixth
kid is my poor little one, the orphan, now he has to clothe six
children, has to foster them… Well, I ask you, tell me straight. That
poor little child, who is cardiac too, ’cause he got the heart disease
after his brother, well, he could do with a little help then couldn’t
he? That mayor would help that poor soul, help to bring him up instead
of those five kids of his,.. but that would be of much help, wouldn’t
it? This is not quite true, somehow, that’s what I think, so I went up
to Budapest, but they don’t pay much attention to us there, neither.
They have it written and announced when, which day the lord mayor can
receive you, since he might not be in Budapest. Should I notify them,
so that they know when they can receive me, so that I can see them, or
what?… But this is no good, absolutely not, it ain’t good, because if
I have a complaint, and go up there, from three hundred kilo and sixty
metres and wish to make a complaint, then why don’t the Budapest mayor
deal with one, why don’t he take care of me in a situation like that,
to help my little one, poor soul, but that’s the way it is, nowadays. I
went up there the other day and says, sonny, do ya get anythin’ at
school today or what?… ‘Cause he didn’t have to go on Monday, he was
only in that – what’s it called? Yeah, in his third year, right?
And then he says, Mum, I didn’t get a thing so far, Mum. Then I says,
how can you cope with this, my lad, how can you get along? …
Unfortunately that brother of his, he bought a bag, a pair of shoes,
some trousers and a jacket from the money he made, and told him, told
his kid brother to go to school, because …he says … I can’t name
half the things a painter-decorator needs. They give him things, but
it’s still not the same, is it? For a young kid who’s about sixteen,
doesn’t smoke, doesn’t smoke a cigi, doesn’t drink any booze.. well, if
I sit down beside him and light a cig, then this is what he does. If
you saw him, you wouldn’t believe it, you’d say that this can’t be
true, a child like this. You can see it on him, all right, you can see
it from his face. And they don’t help my child with anything, they
don’t, he gets no aid for orphans either, he hasn’t got a thing, not a
single penny since his father died. Died a year ago, he did, it was the
seventeenth of last month, it was, but he hasn’t got a thing. Nothing
because the Budapest municipality, the local government won’t put this
thing in order. They do absolutely nothing about this, don’t arrange
anything. I just can’t understand it; there’s something wrong about
this. That they don’t help me, me, with the little pension I have, that
I’ve got to help him, and my son in Budapest, with his five children,
he must feed him, keep that child going. Every morning he gives his kid
brother two hundred forints, tells him, listen brother, buy yourself
whatever you need. What does he get out of it, what’s that good for?
What’s it worth eh? A chocolate drink and two rolls, a bit of cold
meat, or a slice of sausage, but two hundred forints isn’t that much in
Budapest, is it? … So, we say that even a thousand forints isn’t a
lot of money in Budapest, right? I went to the local shop, my son sent
me to do the shopping, I’ve never cooked my kids a meal for a thousand
forints, a family of eight… because I didn’t cook. My son comes home
and says, Mum, Mummy, what are you cooking? I tell him, I’m making some
bean soup, that’s what, in Budapest I’m only making some bean soup.
Bean soup, he says? Only soup? Let’s say that I bought a bit of smoked
pork chop to go with the soup, or a bit of smoked meat, or a sausage or
something, some smoked sausage, and cooked some bean soup for my
children. But you know how it is. At home I just walk down to the
garden, and pick this and that, I go and pick some beans, yes, I have
this and that, so I get it done cheaper right, it don’t cost any money,
does it? If I go down to the shop in Budapest, or say, if I go to the
greengrocer to buy a few sprigs of parsley, well, that costs fifteen
forints, and twenty forints, those green sprigs, you know, well, I
thought I’d die right there, I almost dropped dead. Everything is
expensive, yes, everything is bloody expensive. I have this kind of
green parsley in my kitchen- garden, some parsley leaves, celery, I’ve
got everything. So I says oh, dear! Upon my word, what do I know… I
don’t know what the matter was, I was struck dumb, I didn’t know what
to say, I couldn’t utter a single word, really. I usually chuck out the
parsley leaves at home, and here they give it for money only, sell it
for twenty forints, that’s what they do, and a little bunch of parsley
leaves, that’s all there is in it. It’s blooming expensive, that’s what
it is! So it’s really damn difficult to talk about these things,
because.. those who know, those who live in the country, and then go up
to Budapest, or perhaps even deal with these things, like my son…He
was a greengrocer, used to be a greengrocer who worked at the Great
Market Hall, my Attila, he used to weigh vegetables because that’s what
his job was, he was a stall keeper. Oh, well … I saw what these
things cost… everything is very expensive, but… nowadays when you
go down to the shop, a thousand forints is nothing, it isn’t worth a
thing, you know. You can buy some bread, some coffee, some sugar, and
let’s say you buy something else besides these, well then you’ve spent
a thousand forints, but you haven’t cooked anything yet, haven’t
prepared a meal from it, right? ‘Cause there’s no food then, right?

My sour soup pot

We knock down the plums, then pick them up, without their stems, clean,
so that there be no bad or rotten fruits among them, and then we wash
them, twice, with double water. This we pour into cauldrons, and when
the plums have all been cooked, and lose their stones we simmer them,
boil them until they’re done. I have a kind of sour soup pot here, it’s
right here in the cauldron, I’ll show you in a minute. When I’ve cooked
the plums, when they’re done I fill up the cauldron, but it can’t just
be any cauldron, you know, it has to be this kind of brass cauldron,
okay? It’s over-there, see. And when I’ve filled that up, and have
passed the fruit through a sieve, then I have to keep measuring out the
fruit, portioning it, if you like. I fill it up with a tin canister,
keep pouring it until I have a cauldron full of jam, made from four
portions of sour soup concoction. I have my cauldron-jam ready when
I’ve poured those four sour soup concoctions into my cauldron. Then,
when it comes up, to the surface, like- cause you have to keep pushing
it, stirring it, like- but all the time you mustn’t stop stirring it,
well then, I keep pushing it ’till it bursts, kind of splits in the
middle. The jam is good and ready when I go and put my spoon straight
into it, dip it in, and the spoon simply turns upside down, it comes
out from the jam, rolls over, or somethin’ like that, that’s when the
jam is ready. Then I take it out from the jam, pull the cauldron out
from the jam, and then I put a spade-full of sand or two on top of it,
to let the cauldron cool, to let it cool down. You still have to keep
pushing it around, like, because you can take it for granted that the
cauldron will still be piping hot, you can be sure of that. When it has
cooled of, is really cool, you still have to move it a bit, so until
then I do somethin’ else, I step aside, then do something else, go back
to the cauldron, push it about a bit. When it is cool, when I know full
well that it’s cool, when it don’t drop anymore, cause it’s hot no more
I leave it and cover it with a table-cloth and wait about three or four
hours. When it’s grown cold I put it in an earthenware pot or a bowl,
as you could see for yourselves earlier, too. That’s all there is to
it, that’s what gives it its soul, only order is what matters, what I
do I do neat and tidy, like. With great cleanliness, see, because the
water that I’ve just poured in as you saw, I’m gonna wash it through
once more, with fresh water, but I’ll have to wash it about three
times, with fresh water all the time, just like you do it with
preserves, so that you be able to put them conserves away neat and
tidy, because otherwise it’ll go bad. I’ll show you a three-year-old
jam, but that three year old jam is still good, like… You can cut it
with a knife, all right. I made four cauldrons of jam the year before
last, my son died last year, unfortunately The plums all gushed down, I
just couldn’t cook all of it, no, it was all under the tree, all of it.
I didn’t have the strength, I wasn’t strong enough to make the jam last
year, I didn’t make any preserves either. Now I have everything I need,
thank goodness. But this can only be done with this much. When we
knocked down the plums – if you let me tell you once more, one more
time, then – we pick them up, without stems, mind, and there mustn’t be
any damaged fruit among them, cause you have to chuck all that out, you
see if there’s just this much rotten fruit in it then it will be no
good, because the jam will all get damaged, too. It’ll go bad, too.
After we’ve picked up the fruit we wash them , wash them clean, without
the stems, those are there, over there, so we wash them through once
more, with some clean water, fresh liquid, and if that be no good,
either , if we still don’t like it, then with yet another one. With
three doses of water. And then pour them into the cauldron. We’ve got
to simmer them, to make the sour soup jam, that’s what the sour soup is
all about , I’ll show you, it’s in that barrel over there. And then it
has to cool, get it, it has to cool off, like, and when it’s all cooled
off, grown cold, you know, so that it be able to stand the nylon, then
I pull nylon over me hands, clean nylon, so that I’ll be able to rub it
through a sieve, is that clear? Do you follow me? And when I’ve rubbed
the jam through the sieve I only pour the clean, pure plum-juice into
the cauldron, and that’s when I measure out the pure sour soup into the
cauldron. In the cauldron it goes, it goes right into the cauldron,
until we get the jam, until we’ve made the kind of jam that I’ve given

We are all done for. The end is here, like the end of a stick.

a group of women:

1. The letter G before us, it’s all over for us, we’re all finished.
Even if we walk the way the gents do, only a carriage is missing
underneath them, then we’d be kind of floating in them carriages, we’d
be drifting in that coach, we have the letter G before us, all the
same, it’s all done for .Our days ware numbered The end is here like
the end of a stick. Because, alas, we’ve got that letter G before us.
2. Because the girl’s birth certificate, as it was issued, it has the
letter G on it.
Hitler  Ballad

Bácska gypsies, are they still alive?
the gypsies from Veszprém were killed on the way ,
Hey, Jankó, you may grieve, you will mourn
those children, the young wife,

The Germans are coming with their big bombs,
The Russians are coming with their many mines,

Hey, Hitler, you’d better lose your head!

What have you done to our country, hey?
Give me my quilt, give back my eider-down
poor children, they will freeze to death,
Hey, Hitler, open up your gate,
poor children, they will freeze to death,