Home > Literature, Quotations > Extract from The Door by Magda Szabó

Extract from The Door by Magda Szabó

“Did you walk along the goods platform?”

“Yes,” I said.

“I wanted you to see it, because I often see it in my dreams, just as it was when a pet of mine jumped off the train after me. We had a heifer. It was sandy-brown. I had raised it from a calf. After the two little ones it was for me the third child. Its coat was every bit as silky as the twins’ hair, its nose was pink and soft, and it smelled of milk, just like them. People laughed because it followed me everywhere. But then we had to sell it. They locked me in the attic so I couldn’t run after them. In those days hysterics weren’t tolerated in the village. Children were given a good smack and told what to do, and if you still didn’t understand, they hit you on the head. Maybe things are different now, and they are more tolerant down there, I don’t know. Anyway they beat me round the head and shut the door on me, but I managed to get out. I knew that if they sold the heifer they’d take it to the station, so I ran to the platform, but by the time I got there they’d already bundled it into the wagon with all the animals the other farmers had sold. It was mooing away pitifully, up there in the van, and I screamed out its name. They hadn’t yet closed the door, and when it heard my name it jumped down from that great height. Children are stupid; I didn’t know what I was doing when I called out to it. It landed on its front legs and broke them both.

“They sent for the gypsy to hit it over the head. My grandfather was cursing and swearing. It would have been better if I had died, rather than valuable livestock – I was such a useless good-for-nothing.

“They butchered it and weighed it. I had to stand there while they killed it and cut it up into pieces. Don’t ask what I was feeling, but let this teach you not to love anyone to death because you’ll suffer for it, if not sooner then later. It is better not to love anyone, because then no-one you care about will get butchered, and you won’t end up jumping out of wagons. Now you must go. We’ve both said quite enough and the dog’s exhausted. Take him home. Come on, Viola! Oh yes, the heifer was also called Viola. My mother called it that. Off you go, now. This dog’s half asleep.”

Categories: Literature, Quotations
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  1. 9 December 2010 at 11:13 pm

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