At the time I had no answering machine, so
I couldn’t call myself. Ludicrous, perhaps,
even morbid, how secure it made me feel to know
at any time I could hear my own voice. There is a voice, however
mechanical, which is mine. I have nothing else, if I think
hard about it, which is certain, just this distant voice
which comes from a machine. And the fact that at any time,
from anywhere, I can eavesdrop on it. There is a room, where
I live, and in it is a little black machine, which
speaks in the empty room. It makes clicking sounds. Now
spinning forward, now back. It switches on, then off.
It devours the room. But then I still had no
machine, and there was no one whom I could
have called. Who would have spoken to me, and I would not
have to feel ashamed for needing this voice. Just to hear
someone speaking to me. I concealed my faltering, whimpering voice,
my mask-like face with its wayward mimicry.
Perhaps it was on the KuDamm that I saw it in a shop window, reflected
back for the first time. What I could say
to it. Since then I have a machine, sometimes I call myself.
I patiently wait until the end of the message, and after the long whistling sound
I leave these words: “I will outlive you, you pipsqueak!”
Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet.
© Szilárd Borbély