My Little Dead Angel

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To Szilvia Tóth, who couldn’t live to be twelve


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Searching for moment of peace in the raging storm of my life, I used to go to the graveyard of our hometown. Walking among the ashes of the countless of past lives, watching the worn epitaphs, lopsided tombstones, faded names, and tried to recall the memories of those who passed long before I was born. Those who have been forgotten decades ago – I tried to conjure up their image, the way they must have lived, and fathom the mystery of the darkness they faded into. Some of the dates under names only showed a couple of years between birth and death, filling me with dismay as I wondered with clenching heart about the people in their short little lives, unaware that, in a remote, hidden corner of the graveyard, in the shadow of an immense silver pine, I would find your childhood picture on one of the little graves…
…How could I forget, as you would remember also, the devotion with which our shy, pure children’s hearts loved each other, and how joyous the moments were when we could meet on the playing ground between your grandparents’ house and ours? The multitude of memories, unforgettable yet so few for a lifetime, became a searing pain: the confessions whispered between us, our eyes closed, heads turned aside… No, don’t fear, Szilvi – I shall not breathe a word, I would not give away the secrets we have shared. Your plans, your dreams, by foreign ears will not be heard. Oh, how I shuddered with the joy of hearing you talk of tales of future times, a future we both created there, among the dreams and hopes forever unfulfilled. To all that you made me an heir, and for brief moments of bliss, your sky-blue eyes would fall upon my face, with childish innocence, an angel’s smile that would soon freeze, lying upon unfeeling, solid marble, hidden away for twenty-one years among the silent, uncomprehending graves.
How many worthless years have passed with uncompromising ruthlessness since then, tearing millions of hearts with agony and spreading joy, dissolving in the depths of human hearts, while changes unimaginable to you have stirred in your former schoolmates’ soul, inspiring those fleeting yet wonderful moments which, looking back heavy-hearted with the knowledge of their passing, used to make us tremble. Those glorious feelings we experienced, becoming more majestic with every fleeting moment – those unknowable emotions and desires your eleven-year-old self was so shamefully robbed of. What heartless cruelty. It’s inconceivable, unfathomable that you’ve never got feel this, even as I struggled my way through them all to grow up – you shall remain eleven forever, the same cheerful girl who used to throw pebbles onto the road with me, or call out to strangers, names made up on the spot, the one with whom we used to pretend being newlyweds for the other kids… You were a young child-wife when you suddenly didn’t come anymore to play. Whom I, with clenched heart and a little boy’s indignation, fighting everything in my way, kept searching for… Whom, fearing adults finding out about my love, I could only find again as an adult myself, and the reunion fazed me with the endless pain of passing weeks and months which fate, in a cruel moment among the troubles of my life, revealed before me: the mystery of my shyly blushing love’s disappearance.
If you lived, we could be laughing – maybe as members of two distinct families – on the childish things we used to do: you would remember the day I fell from the railings, wanting to stand on one foot on their top… But why am I remembering at these things alone, the memories drowning in pain, when you, robbed of the chance of growing up, are unable to reminisce about our childhood deeds? Only I got to experience that which would have seemed impossible being together day by day as children: past hopes and dreams turning to bitter sorrow, giving birth to the quiet, untouchable and unchangeable, motionless hours beside the stone slab which has condemned you to eternal silence.
That day, I was given what I used to dream about as a child, still obliged to go home before sunset; in my lonely room I thought about being with you every Christmas Eve, and here the silver pine towered over us like a solemn Christmas tree among the snowy graves, in the company people perished long ago, dissolving and fading into nonexistence, who watched, unseeing, unfeeling and silent, the way I gave a small package to you.
For years, I kept the secret of this unconscious life as I, an adult, was pining away for an eleven-year-old girl. But suddenly, on a gloomy early afternoon in August, a strange event strengthened my ever-growing, ever-waning resolve to put an end to this perilous state, in which I tried to convince myself that the circumstances of your death and everything that happened since were insignificant compared to your absence.
You may not believe it, my little love, how many remember you still, you who, on the street crossing before the church was hit by a careless driver… and the medical mistake which took your life twenty one years ago. It turned out that the painter I knew through my parents was your uncle, and his selfless help enabled me to find those you had left behind.
You know, Szilvi, I couldn’t take it anymore. After much soul-searching, I went to see your mother for I hopelessly desired, unable to imagine the bereavement, the bleeding of the badly healed wound at the injustice and the pointlessness of your death. I wanted to know everything, everything…
When I saw her there, coming towards me in the stormy wind that tore at the garden flowers, I finally understood what it meant for a mother to lose her child whom, after carrying within herself she brought to life and kept safe from the dangers of the world… I’ve seen a mother who has been wasting away from the pain of twenty one years.
You truly died for me on that fateful afternoon. I felt, as an adult, the indescribable horror of a child’s death – the agony of the shock your close and not so close relatives must have felt on May 21, 1981. It was on a Thursday, half past five… I’ve learned of the pair of slippers that you found in the window of a shoe shop, that you wanted so much but never got to wear… I can imagine your excitement as you brought the package up to your grandpa’s, then ran home to your little flat behind the town’s marketplace to try them on… never getting past the church. It wasn’t even five o’clock yet.
Then you’ve been brought to an old hospital with outdated equipments, among adults struggling with illnesses and themselves, and put in a bleak room radiating anxiety, and the bruised swelling on your forehead kept growing, and your mother, in utter despair, fearing that which was impossible to imagine, trembling with horror, kept stroking it gently, murmuring comforting words…
Your mother, in her despair, drew comfort from the words of the doctors, who had said it was not serious, that you only had to stay in for observation… And at nine o’clock, the phone rang suddenly, a shrill sound without empathy, and she was told that you, the vulnerable barely-teenage girl was taken to the emergency hospital with unexpected developments, your state deteriorating quickly, and you had to get a tracheotomy, and after a night spent in unconsciousness, you were operated in the morning… But no use. They hadn’t noticed your wound bleeding internally on the day of the accident and, at 2 a.m. on May 25, you no longer lived.
All that remained of your short, abruptly ended life, I got to see yesterday. Do you know you have your own wardrobe, its shelves filled with all the treasures you as a little girl held so dear, your French doll, your candlestick, the carved jug you took home from a class trip… Your jewellery box has all the things they took off you before your last journey: your watch, your necklace, your earrings, and a small leather wristband that was torn in the accident, but it must have been pretty, I could see you loved it very much…
There is the memory book in which one classmate wrote ‘Be a good wife!’ and the metal matchbox, the ashtray that you made in polytechnic class, carving only a T and an unfinished S into it… Your collected photographs, the one in which you were practising the splits with a friend, preparing for a school performance, and the one I’ve first seen of you… Your letters… No, don’t think I read them! No. They were written for you by other boys… I returned them, unopened. The permanent anxiety of uselessness after a sleepless night drove me to your grave yesterday morning, and there, in the garden of eternal rest, in the sorrow of grief, suddenly I felt the same joyful anxiety I used to feel as a child, thinking about you, hoping to meet, the angelic soul now lost in the untouchable mist of infinity, endlessly far, but loving until the end of time, and beyond…



My dear reader, I hope you liked my short story. Thank you for reading it. I think you would like my novel, Sanctuary of the Guilty, which is why I would like to recommend it to you. Of course you can read it free. The events of the book take place in a Catholic seminary where I had to live as a priest student. In a secret and close world where very shocking things happen… about which some people would like to remain silent. I wrote about these with a little apprehension but I think that the truth must always come to light…

Thank you very much for your interest. Laszlo Malota

Sanctuary of the Guilty - Michele

The Sanctuary of the Guilty topped the Best Seller’s list in Europe. This book overtook Bridget Jones’s Diary by H. Fielding, The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and Imre Kertesz’s novel Fatelessness  which won a Nobel Prize. The Sanctuary of the Guilty was so successful that pirated versions of the book were circulated widely in Hungary.

It received the following review from Miklos Jancso (awarded Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival for his work on Red Psalm):

“Laszlo Malota you honoured me with a copy of your novel. I read this novel three times. I like it. I like it because of its irony. I like the author’s courage, his incredible bravery. Are you aware of the importance of it? Do you know that you have stirred up a hornest’s nest? It involves persecution, anger. Perhaps involving stakes or not. Or maybe, all things considered, there could also be an auto-da-fe. A truly great film could be made from it. That would cause a huge scandal. It would be an incredible world scandal.”

It received the following review from David Paul Kirkpatrick (Former President of the Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Motion Picture Group):

„Laszlo Malota has written a breathtaking book, Sanctuary of the Guilty that everyone should read for such a book will change perspectives. I hope that one day, we will not only read it but see it as a movie. In the right hands, I am sure the movie would be fantastic.”


Few samples from the Sanctuary of the Guilty:

“All the nuns, each of them holding a candle, started pacing around the crucifix. By the mystical, quivering light of the candles, I finally caught a glimpse of my nun’s face, who so eagerly wanted to break the sixth commandment through our fall into sin. Her face was pleasant and childlike. The faster and deeper we immersed ourselves in each other, the more her face bloomed. As she plunged ever more ferociously beneath the waves of lust rising out of her uncontrollable passion, her face transformed and became more and more like a fairy’s bedecked with rose petals and dewdrops. By the time she finished and fell on top of me, barely conscious, holding her blazing face against mine, the nuns had already stopped their aimless meandering outside. The way they repeatedly passed by us during their procession made it seem as if they were trying to lavish offerings upon Jesus, maybe to bring salvation to sinful souls. Perhaps they inadvertently helped to bring about our salvation as well.”

“I lay shivering on the floor, curled up in a ball. The feeling of helplessness was unbearable. I didn’t understand what was happening to me or why. My head was swimming, rendering me incapable of clear thought, so I couldn’t come up with a solution to this horrible predicament. I wanted to think about Esther in these trying hours, but I couldn’t even do that. I lay dejected in one of the seminary’s hidden cellars, lonely and isolated from the rest of the world. For the very first time in my life, I thought of death as a possible way out.”

“The old woman led us to a poorly furnished vestibule with worn plaster walls. The sound of a terrifying death rattle came from the adjacent room. I was so shaken by fear that I could feel my legs turn to jelly, and I was unable to move. A funny smell wafted through the air, and I knew right away that it was the smell of death.”

“I almost stumbled as I stepped into the dark and fetid room. The shutters had been pulled down. I couldn’t bring myself to even think about it, but against my own will, I turned to where the old man lay dying. A towel had been placed under his head–a white towel with roses on it.”

“As I looked at the descending casket that contained the earthly remains of my former fellow seminarian and prisoner, I remembered Erasmus with pity. Despite being a dedicated student, he became the victim of his bitter love affair.”

“I stood up and left so that the old nun could spend her last few lifeless hours in peace before she is finally put to her eternal rest underground. A bell struck midnight somewhere in the distance. I mingled with the praying crowd, and in my mirth I decided to lie myself down among them. Although the stone was cold, I didn’t get up for a while. Someone nearby started sobbing loudly, so I bent over and kissed her face. My reward was a single teardrop, which trickled playfully down my neck. The air was filled with reverence. I soon fell asleep for a short while. Incense descended upon me like a thick fog.”