Because I have no idea how long I will have electricity I will try to post a short note as soon as possible. According to information received in our little borough (population 5,000) 25% of households are already without power. So, I’d better hurry.
My topic for today will be somewhat whimsical. I just finished listening to a conversation with László Majtényi, former ombudsman, who is now the director of the Károly Eötvös Institute. Károly Eötvös was the MP and lawyer who accepted the job of defending the Jews of Tiszaeszlár who were accused of ritual murder in 1882. So, Eötvös is considered to be a champion of justice in Hungarian legal history. The Institute, as I mentioned elsewhere, is a liberal legal think tank.
Majtényi is a quiet fellow not prone to exaggeration, but the Institute’s latest laundry list of tasks to be performed after the possible departure of the current Hungarian government surprised even him. The task is enormous. I’m still planning to write something about this eight-point list, but I don’t think that today is the best time for such analysis.
Instead I will tell you a funny story that Majtényi brought up during his conversation with László Juszt, a reporter working for ATV. Majtényi expressed his absolute astonishment that a street named after Józsi Jenő Tersánszky, a brilliant and anti-communist writer, was deemed to be objectionable by the Jobbik-Fidesz majority of the Budapest city council and was changed. He can’t fathom why. To illustrate his point he brought up a Tersánszky book written for children. Majtényi added that one reason that Hungarian children’s literature was so good during the Soviet period was that first-rate writers not favored by the regime could publish only children’s stories.
So, said Majtényi, Tersánszky’s “Misi mókus kalandjai” (The adventures of Misi, the squirrel) is actually a book against the regime. The story is about a little squirrel whose tail is black instead of red. When the family notices this oddity they become alarmed and their first reaction is that perhaps Misi’s tail should be painted red. A friend of the family, Aunt Jay, has an even more drastic suggestion: the tail should be cut off. Not surprisingly, Misi runs away and during his travels he gets to know the wider world. After several exciting adventures Misi returns home, but he keeps the umbrella that took him all over the world next to him when he goes to bed.
The reporter was highly amused. Majtényi admitted, of course, that this is his own interpretation of Tersánszky’s children’s story. From what I know about this writer Majtényi might not be very far off.
And now let’s keep our fingers crossed that the storm’s aftermath will be less painful than a year ago.