MY FATHER’S DOWRY / Anna Vándor
This story is about a piece of pottery. In its present form it is a vase with curious glaze on it.
It appeared in our flat in 1951, when my mother, who had graduated as a ceramist, married again at the age of 45. By then, she had been a widow for 5 years, taking care of me, who was going to kindergarten and school, and of her mother, a cripple as a result of the two fractures of the femur she suffered during the Hitler-period. Soon after the siege, my uncle found us: first my mother and me, and then my grandmother in the hospital. Since all three families were broken families with ruined homes, all of us were moved as co-tenants to a big flat on the 5th floor of an apartment house in the 6th district. We had to fight against cockroaches, rats, and bedbugs – it took us several years to exterminate their army.
But I wanted to write about a vase.
The information that my mother was widowed, and I was half-orphaned reached us in the summer of 1945. I remember both 1945 and 1946 as the years when every conversation of the adults led to the same questions: what happened to whom, and where did they end up. Every now and then people appeared about whom we had not known whether they were alive; every now and then the trustworthy news came that some other people had passed away. Then I started school. It was a new community, where it was considered who had a father, who did not, and, later, who had a stepfather.
Many men swarmed around my mother. She did not keep it a secret that she would not mind a second marriage, but she also assured me that she would only marry someone I could accept for a stepfather. So, most of her suitors tried to buy my favours, and I duly devoured the chocolate they brought for a gift but drove them away little by little.
Once my mother came home in the company of a man I had never seen before. I was sitting on the floor of the hallway (building a castle) and told her immediately: “Well, you can marry this one.” Both of them got really embarrassed, for the man had his wedding the following day. Not with my mother. Moreover, he did not even come to see my mother but my uncle, who had been a colleague of his; he just came across my mother on the staircase.
But I proved to be a prophet.
My stepfather was a graphic artist and a painter. I was already ten by the time he divorced the girl he had married “the next day” and wedded my mother.
But I wanted to write about a vase.
My stepfather had been part of our family for quite a few years when my mother stopped in front of one of his vases with a puzzled look. She asked where it came from. I do not remember the answer, I can only recall that my mother got really excited, and turned the vase upside down, looking for something. In the meantime, my stepfather was explaining to her that he had not liked the original colours of the vase, so he had repainted it.
“You are right,” said my mother. “I spoiled the painting, that’s why I never finished it. But originally it was not made for a vase but for a lamp body. It must have a hole somewhere on the bottom for the wire.”
“I filled it up with plaster” said my stepfather.
Since then, the painting has come off at two places. I still cherish the work their hands created: some of the original, spoiled painting is visible, too.
Köszönet a tárgykölcsönzőknek és történetmesélőknek:
FISCHER ÁGOTA ÉVA
FÜLÖPNÉ WELTZ MÁRIA
HÁTSZEGI GÁBORNÉ, JULIKA
HELLER MÁRIA (RÓZSA PÁL)
HELLER SÁNDORNÉ, MÜLLER ANIKÓ
KÁNAI GYULÁNÉ PEREDY GIZELLA
LEÁNYFALVINÉ GORDÁN ILDIKÓ
TERÉNYI ISTVÁNNÉ SULLAI VINCENCIA
TÓTHNÉ RUDI MARGIT
Köszönet a kiállítás létrejöttéhez nyújtott segítségért
TÓTH GERGELY MÁTÉ
ELEVEN EMLÉKMŰ CSOPORT
HERITAGE CONTACT ZONE
HUMÁN PLATFORM EGYESÜLET
OPEN SOCIETY ARCHIVES
Castrum Peregrini, Amszterdam
Asociatia Timişoara Capitala Cultural Europeana, Temesvár
Eleven Emlékmű / Humán Platform, Budapest
Etz Hayyim, Hanía, Kréta
European University Institute, Firenze
Culture Action Europe, Brüsszel