Kedvelj minket a Facebookon!



In the middle of the sharp curve of Németvölgyi Street, at the foot of Kissváb Hill in Buda, there was a glazier shop.  For the nights a bust of Emperor Franz Joseph guarded its table-lamp lid window with a sleeping red cat curved around. I used to rent a room on the fourth floor, for the footsteps of an army general who had been living across the street till the end of the Second World War, and about whom I wrote a lot in those early, passionate years of my historian career.  “It’s a genteel and elegant house” – my landlady kept saying – “from which no woman leaves with naked lips”. When the postman came with her pension she signed her married name, always with a half-smile, and added: “Though this ‘Mrs’ is no longer applicable.” In warm summer nights she was sitting on the balcony for hours, looking at the Buda Hills, the sparkling lights of Rózsadomb, fairy-tale world of actors, politicians, millionaires - the world, in which she left a husband and a villa behind, at some unclear point of the past. In these summer nights, though she was not allowed to because of her weak heart, she smoked sometimes too - long, thin, flower-scented cigarettes, and sprayed tiny drops of perfume onto her wrist from and old bottle of Estée Lauder. “A gift from Zoli Latinovits, the actor” – she kept saying – “If it’s over, I won’t have perfume any more. A lady in Buda never buys but always gets it.”

In daytime she supervised the cars, entering and parking in the courtyard of the house, and then counted the parking fee to the last coin to the janitor -  a young and agile man -  on the first Thursdays of every month. The kitchen table was laid on these days, since early in the morning, with damast, china, freshly baked scone, and hibiscus-tea. “My never born son would be at the same age” – she whispered once to me, selecting chinaplates for her scones, as if I had taunted her something.

The news of her death got to me in a foggy winter morning. She was said to take some money from the parking fee to buy perfume - at least the young janitor told the police so – and her weak heart could not bear the shame of questioning.  By that time Németvölgyi Street, Franz Joseph statue and Budapest was a distant memory for me, feeding the duck in the Canal of Camden,  but an old, snifting voice echoed in my ears clearly:  “Perfume... A lady in Buda never buys, but always gets it.”

Photo: Spencer - Pixabay - modified