Sunday, June 24, 2012

The unseen design

'Under the Frog',* by the Hungarian writer Tibor Fischer, was my introduction to East European literature. The spirit of people who fight oppression, learn to circumvent it to lead as normal a life as possible - and the rich humour that is a hallmark of those who have learned to laugh, when they cannot do anything else.

This particular passage moved me especially. This is something I believe in strongly - that people have so many sides, you can never put them in a box and label them. We are plural. It is always good to leave that margin for surprise.

"It was the first time Gyuri had seen Makkai smile, in the four years of his tuition he had never glimpsed the woebegotten Makkai enjoying anything. He thought he knew the whole Makkai, childless widower, glum scholar, whose erudition - far from earning him esteem and fortune or securing him a comfortable position, was a handicap as if he were chained to the decomposing carcass of an elephant.

The smile made Gyuri realise there were whole departments of Makkai he had never glimpsed; it was like turning a dusty vase stationed on top of a wardrobe for years to discover the reverse has an unseen design."

*"Under a frog's arse down a coalmine" is the Hungarian expression for when you are truly at the lowest point of life.

1 comment:

Priya said...

So true Asha. We are indeed plural! Something that I have always believed in..

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