12. 08. 2013. 16:24

When a man loves a woman (short story)

And if she is his mother he will buy her 69 red tulips for her birthday and, smiling his Casanova smile, lets the florist leer at him with that “you needn’t say a word buddy, I know what it’s about” expression while wrapping up the bouquet.

When a man loves a woman he turns his back on the world. He even forgets about the regular game of tennis and when his best friend calls the automated voice on the answering machine replies, The number you are trying to call is not reachable.

When a man loves a woman he will eat his food raw, sleep in unheated rooms, walk out into the rain without an umbrella and carry his tent around on alpine hiking tours (she is a nature freak).

When a man loves a woman he will gladly sprint down the parallel street so that, just like the hedgehog trying to surprise the hare, he can emerge in front of her on the corner, stupefying her and bringing a smile to her face. He, too, is smiling, although he can hardly keep his feet, having rehearsed this comic scene all by himself on this grey afternoon, unlike the hedgehog who had the advantage of a companion.

When a man loves a woman he will grow a beard so his stubbles won’t scratch her sensitive skin.

When a man loves a woman he keeps daydreaming about drinking tea from the same cup, eating soup from the same plate, brushing his teeth with the same toothbrush, sleeping in the same bed with her. In fact he is daydreaming about plunging valiantly headlong, like a diver into the deep sea, into her, but that couldn’t possibly satisfy him, because now he wishes to turn into a fish to stay within her or at least, like a song-bird he would like to perch on her shoulder forever, but that again couldn’t possibly satisfy him, because he would rather like to merge as birdsong into the air, into the pure air that she breathes.

When a man loves a woman he spells out from the number-plate SM-08-ZXS: she loves me too.

When a man loves a woman he will scurry up to everybody, everybody really, he would chat at length with the elderly saleslady at the baker’s, with the man from the gas station with the bad breath, he even inquires from the Chinese shop assistant who speaks some broken Hungarian if they really call the mandarin and the mandarin a mandarin in China.

When a man loves a woman, the coal of old loves flares up and their heat gathers like the members of an extended family.

When a man loves a woman he will see in her now his daughter, now his mother. And if she whom he loves is actually his daughter and he happens to see a black 4x4 nearly knock her down on the pedestrian crossing, he will dart after the car in a blind fury and scream in the face of that pumped-up capon through the window, “Can’t you see the child, lard-face?” And if she is his mother he will buy her 69 red tulips for her birthday and, smiling his Casanova smile, lets the florist leer at him with that “you needn’t say a word buddy, I know what it’s about” expression while wrapping up the bouquet. (And on his baby sister’s wedding he will abduct the bride as custom dictates, and they chuckle away in the nut tree’s branches looking down at the turmoil below, at the indignant wedding guests rushing to and fro and when they finally hop off amid peals of laughter, it is only on account of those gold-rimmed spectacles that he doesn’t smash in the face of the hysterical bridegroom at once, having himself lent him the money to buy the spectacles.)

When a man loves a woman it would never occur to him that her cell-phone is busy because she is just arranging about a ten-day escapade to a faraway seaside with someone else. And he would be the last to learn that she has been playing the field for three weeks at least.

When a man loves a woman he can’t bring himself to embrace another woman.

When a man loves a woman and she returns to him from someone else he thinks, “I have passed the test that was more agonizing than lying in a stone coffin for thirty days on end, harder even than the Long Dragon hike up the Kelemen mountains.”

When a man loves a woman he will buy her everything, and if she does not for a moment doubt that he is actually able to foretell the winning numbers in the lottery and, what is more, that by the power of his mind he can make the unsuspecting extras draw the numbers he wants them to draw from the glass sphere, and if, in case he has never in his life bought a single lottery ticket, she will unconditionally believe him capable of uprooting the 200-year-old pear tree under which the Napoleon gold was hidden, if she nods, “naturellement, you could easily uproot a sequoia if you wanted”, he will certainly find the treasure so he can buy her everything on earth.

When a man loves a woman he gets up at dawn, goes through his cupboards and sorts out two sacks of old clothes, one sack of books, one sack of rags and bones. But after that for two days he does absolutely nothing, if he is a bus driver he reports sick, if he is a writer he doesn’t even give a look in the direction of his typewriter. Only to rise again and, if he is a bus driver, to cover the route like some Fittipaldi, and if he is a writer, to write up in one day a whole novella which, so he thinks, is far more enticing, has a much more thrilling plotline and is more studded with rare choice words than anything he has ever written before, whereas in reality one can hardly imagine a text that would be duller and more predictable than the one written by a man who loves a woman.

When a man loves a woman in fact he can never find the answer why he loves her. He will sit in his garden among the bushes at the stone table that he had dragged there when he was young, he sits at this table that he couldn’t move an inch now and is racking his brains and has not the faintest inkling that the sentences he joined into her sentences have changed the world.

Translated by: Erika Mihálycsa

Tags: Zsolt Láng