Grandpa’s Stories

Áron Antal

One sunny afternoon, my mother told me to go to my grandparents’ to ask them for some meat to bring home. They lived on the outskirts of the city, and I went with my scooter. When I arrived, my grandma opened the gate for me, and I parked in the garden. My grandpa had just stepped out of the house and started to speak to me. My grandparents’ garden was huge, and they grew crops and fruits in it for the family.

– Aaron, how are you?

– Fine grandpa, fine.

– Ya see my garden? See the potatoes? Look at them! Last year, you remember how big they grew? We could barely pull them out, they were so huge.

– Yeh grandpa, they were quite huge, but….

– Now, look at the tomatoes, how beautiful they are! They were so delicious! See how many beans I grew. There will be like a hundred kilos of them. And the apples, well, they’re the best in town, aren’t they?

– Yes, yes. – I said – and how are you?

– Fine, Aaron, time passes so fast, look at you how much you have grown.

– I don’t think I grew so much in one week, but if you say….

– Ya know, you always remind me of the times when I was young, I looked much like you back then. Me and my friends went to Moscow when we were in fourth grade in secondary school. We went there by train and it took almost a week to go there and back. I enjoyed it so much. The underground metros, they were so huge; the ceiling was like fifteen meters high, you could fit a town into there, and those majestic statues… But the place where we stayed… That was a bit nasty.

– I know, grandpa, you told me these stories like a hundred times and….

– You see, the apartment was full of roaches, literally full. They were everywhere. One night we stayed up and slapped them with our slippers. We killed a few hundred, but the next day they were back, hehe…

– I came for meat, grandpa….

– When I was young, like your little sister, me and my family used to live on a farm. But when the Cooperative took our land, my father decided to become a deliverer. We bought a wagon, because the Soviets gave us two of their horses in exchange for some food and alcohol, and we started the business. I helped my dad so much that I could barely stay awake at the end of the day.

– But weren’t you at school at the….

– We delivered almost everything: crops, coal, firewood etc. There were days when we went to twenty different places to deliver something. Once when my father drank too much, I was driving the wagon when I saw a piece of money on the pavement: it was a fifty-forint note! At the time when a scoop of ice cream was 1 forint. It was big money. But an old man on the other side saw it as well, so I fastened the wagon, jumped off of it, grabbed the note and jumped back in a mere second. The old man didn’t even know what had just happened! Ya know, school was much harder to get to then it is now. You see, when it was winter, sometimes the snow was a meter high and the temperature was freezing cold. My mother boiled potatoes when I was about to leave, and we put it in my pocket, so my hands stayed warm. Glove and snack for the trip. Very practical.

– It is, but I….

– Also we had cows and my mother made dairy products of them. But we had more than we needed, much much more, so we went to the local market to sell them. Sometimes me and my mother went to the Szolnok market by train to sell these products. It was astonishing for me back then. The streets were full of beautiful automobiles, there were huge crowds. At the market I saw ladies whose nails were painted and lips covered in lipstick. At the time it was a big deal, and I hadn’t seen anyone in our village do the same, mainly because it was very expensive to buy those things back then. And the smell, perfume everywhere! Of course that was even more unaffordable for the average person.

– I really don’t want to interrupt you grandpa, but I really have to go now, ’cause you know, I am err…. going to have a err… digitaal lesson. But I really enjoyed listening to your stories as always.

– You’re such a good listener, Aaron, a very good one indeed. Anyway, here is the meat.

I put it onto my scooter, waved goodbye, and drove away.

– It is always good to hear these stories – I thought – even though I think a lot of them are a bit tall, but there’s nobody to prove that. And maybe the honest “lying” makes them all the more enjoyable.