István Margetin: Design Flaw [Panodyssey]
Könyves Magazin

István Margetin: Design Flaw [Panodyssey]

margetin_istván design_flaw austin_wagner panodyssey

Második alkalommal rendezték meg idén a Panodyssey és a Könyves Magazin közös írói pályázatát, amelyre 166 pályamunka érkezett. A harmadik helyezett Margetin István lett Tervezési hiba című írásával (itt olvashatod magyarul), melyben Borda Réka laudációja szerint  "(...) az elbeszélő lassú, kellemes tempójában járhatjuk be új lakhelyét, és kaphatunk bepillantást a panelnegyedek egyszerre nyomasztó és vonzó világába." Kiss Tibor Noé, a másik zsűritag azt emelte ki, hogy a Margetin "írása a rá jellemző monotonitást és aprólékosságot hozza. Amikor azt hinnénk, hogy mindent láttunk, újra felmutat valamit a maga terepbejárásán."

A pályamunkát most Austin Wagner fordításában angolul is elolvashatod.

István Margetin: Design Flaw

Translator: Austin Wagner

Exploring the surroundings in ever-widening loops. One loop per day, then back to the safety of the empty apartment. Barely ten minutes for the first walk around the block. Housing blocks are the same everywhere, in the rows of street-level businesses there’s a disproportionate share of hairdressers, beauticians, manicurists. Here, a custom leather goods store and phone repair shop on the corner break the usual pattern. On the side of the building is a beauty salon supplier, basic materials for fake nails, fake lashes, and cosmetics. A tempting opportunity. He could play the role of ‘uncertain man’. Excuse me, could you help me out with something? My niece wants to do her nails. She’s eight years old. Can she use a metal nail file, or do children’s nails require a different, softer tool? News would spread quickly through the housing block salons, a new guy moved into the building. A little timid, but the caring type. He doesn’t enter the shop, 

he's been the uncertain man enough times already.

It’s an exaggeration to say the apartment is empty. There’s a built-in cabinet in the entryway, shelves in the pantry, a counter in the kitchen, two stools. But no internet. He’s allowed to install it, but he won’t. Internet is just a distraction. He can do most of his work offline anyway, and he can upload the finished material from a bank or library network.

The first night he woke to the floor pressing against his spine. So much for the days spent testing the mattress, though fair enough, he’d done it without weight, so much for patching it up in two places, it’s a design flaw, air leaks out where the electric pump connects to the valve. He hauled himself to his feet, slid the yoga mat under the flattened mattress, applied a fresh layer of night cream to his face, and laid back down. The next day he flipped the mattress so the valve opening was at his feet. It lasted six hours. Sleeping more is pointless anyway, he’d rather lie down in the afternoon. Half an hour of afternoon napping noticeably slows brain shrinkage.

A dented, dark blue Opel station wagon on top of the yellow-painted X outside the building. Lucky for him it wasn’t there when he’d moved in, it would have been impossible to squeeze past with the suitcase. He goes around the vehicle, peeks in through the windshield. A bald man is asleep in the driver’s seat, a shabby notebook and cola on the center console. Amateur detective? Homeless? Jilted lover? Collections agent? He could go back to the apartment, the car would just be visible from the kitchen window. He could make a mint tea, settle down at the counter, and watch. He could take notes in the red-covered journal about who comes and goes, how they react to the car, whether or not the driver stirs. He's never been a bored-senseless zombie peeping through windows. And he won’t be. Boredom is simply a lack of goals. He crosses the street, the next loop can commence. 

In the interest of circadian rhythms and cortisol production, the morning walk is essential.

Empty spaces soothe him, they help in immersion. The living room is a yoga studio, a sanctum, a workout room, and an office. After waking, yoga. Twelve sun salutations to wake the body. Then meditation to quiet the mind, to build awareness. Twenty-one positive affirmations in front of the bathroom mirror to tune the soul. Energy cocktail in the kitchen, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, ginger, multivitamins, probiotics. After the walk, work. One stool is the chair, the other the table. Back to the window, face to the bright green wall so nothing will distract him. Even so, there’s less and less time for work.

A fat old man is banging a yellow bucket on the edge of the dumpster. The old man feels his gaze, turns around, smiles at him. Young man, did you move into the top floor? There’s no time to reply, the old man is talking again, I live on the ground floor, door on the left, you know, the one with the balcony looking onto the park, four floors down from you, it’s the most valuable unit in the entire building, all the old folks are gunning for it, no wonder, it’s nice and shady, and mainly because there’s no stairs, last week Mrs. Rábai on the third floor cut my TV cable, the old bat, they want to chase me off, and I’ll go, I don't care, my sister’s been living in America for thirty-five years, she’s always inviting me, she’s right, there’s no sense in staying, but fuck them, I’m not leaving this apartment to them, I’d sooner give it to you, you seem an upstanding lad, we’ll head to the local council and sort out the paperwork when the time comes, give it some thought, you won’t be able to manage the fourth floor forever either. He could play the role of ‘kind-hearted sucker’. The nice boy who helps with the shopping, cleans the windows, programs the TV. Drops by for a coffee on boring evenings, chews on dry gas station pastries and listens to the latest housing project conspiracy theories. He tosses the garbage bag into the dumpster, says goodbye. 

He has no boring evenings.

On his next loops he finds a pharmacy and a vegetable stand. He wraps up the air valve with first aid tape, pushes an empty fruit crate under the end of the mattress. A mild sloping toward the head strengthens the heart and increases fat burning by almost forty percent.

Dinner on the balcony. Chestnut trees, basketball court, playground, benches, birdsong. Half a glass of quality red wine to support heart and brain, to combat diabetes and cancer. A clear mind is not harmed by alcohol, but the body needs the help. Women working out in the corner of the basketball court from 6:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. The yoga mats create a regular pentagon. He’s too high up, he can’t see the women’s faces. Late thirties based on their movements. He suspects at least three mothers and at least two divorcées. From session to session, changing positions on the pentagon’s edges, a temporary alliance, tiny resentment, fluctuations of sympathies. He could be gravel in the lake. A trophy. He could go down on a workout day, a few minutes before the women. Yoga mat, elastic band, sleeveless shirt. I’m sorry, I just moved in, I didn’t know you usually work out here. Would you mind if I stayed? Yoga mats in a hexagon. He doesn’t go down, journaling is at half past six, then gratitude practice, evening meditation, reading. Brush teeth, then look out the kitchen window to see if the Opel is still there. 

Curiosity stimulates brain function and improves memory.