Béla Pintér

Muck (Szutyok) by Béla Pintér


Irén, childless woman

Attila, Irén’s spouse

Rózsi, Rózsa Demján, Muck, orphan in an orphanage

Anita Romvári, orphan in an orphanage, Rózsi’s friend

Old Man Bandi, pensioner living in Csővár

Old Man Pali, pensioner living in Csővár

Béla, ticket conductor living in Csővár

Etus [diminutive of Etelke or Ethel], Béla’s wife


Social worker

János Regős, member of jury

Serge, member of jury


Zsolt Makaró, orphan

Kálmán Lakatos, orphan



Written by Béla Pintér


(Hungarian folk song)

Brilliant soul of mine,

     glowing sun of mine

Brilliant soul of mine,

     glowing sun of mine

Shine on me bright

     just at this very time

Don’t shine dim

     like you do all the time

Attila:  Please, Professor. Have you seen doctor Gács?

Professor:        Mr. and Mrs. Hidegföldi, I presume?

Attila:  Yes.

Professor:        Excuse me for having kept you waiting.

Attila :Well... we are in fact waiting for Doctor Gacs

Professor:       I know. He cannot come, though. I am going  to take care of you.Professor Kalocsai.

Attila:  We have already introduced ourselves, Professor!

Professor:        Oh. Of course.

Attila:  Excuse me, professor. About half an hour ago, Doctor Gács left us here saying he needed to freshen up in the bathroom and would be back in five minutes.

Professor:        Yes, but he cannot come. I am going to take care of you.

Attila:  But why? Something’s happened to Doctor Gács?

Professor:        Irénke, you should be in bed.

Irén:    It hurts very much when I’m in bed.

Professor:        And when you’re sitting up?

Irén:    Then it hurts less.

Professor:        Interesting.

Attila:  Professor, what's happened to Doctor Gács?

Professor:        You don't want to know.

Attila:  There’s been an accident in the bathroom?

(Hungarian folk song)        

I’ll leave and find my dwelling

     in the ground

I’ll leave and find my dwelling

     in the ground


Where nobody will force

     questions around

That's where no one

  forces questions around


Attila   I don’t want to force the question, Professor, but...

Professor:        And what kind of pain is it, Irénke? A throbbing or a stinging pain? Can you hear me? What happened? Has the cat cut your tongue?

Irén:    Excuse me, what was the question?

Professor:        Is it a throbbing or stinging pain?

Irén:    A stinging pain.

Professor:        Really?

Irén:    No, no! A throbbing pain.

Professor:        I should hope so! It would mean real trouble if it were a stinging pain after  such an operation!

Attila:  What operation? Doctor Gács said this was going to be a routine check-up. Has there been a complication?

Professor:        Well. I believe you’ve had two in vitro fertilisations, two artificial inseminations before the IVF treatment…

Attila:  No! We have tried insemination twice, and we’ve also had four assisted reproduction experiments!

Professor:        And the hormone treatment hasn’t improved the luteal insufficiency.

Attila:  No. Sadly, it hasn’t.

Professor:        Attila! What is the problem with your sperm cells?

Attila:  Well... they weren’t nimble enough, but after Q6 vitamin treatment, they were fine.

Professor:        No wonder. Q6 sets even the laziest ones in motion. And I am sure you are both healthy by now. Otherwise, the assisted reproduction experiments wouldn’t have been authorized.

Attila:  Yes. Of course. Hm…

Irén:    Professor, we trust you, but Doctor Gács has been treating us for five years. He knows everything about us. We have all the time in the world. We’d like to wait!

Professor:        You can’t.

Irén:    What do you mean we can’t? Why do you keep saying that? Where is the doctor now?

Professor:        In his office.

Attila:  And what is he doing there? Treating other patients? Or having lunch?

Professor:        Doctor Gács is sitting at his desk, clutching a piece of his office’s torn carpet and sobbing miserably. He was about halfway through the operation when, on the inner wall of the womb, endometriosis was diagnosed. When I arrived in the OR, I decided for open surgery and carried out an instant hysterectomy within twenty minutes....The operation was successful. Your life isn’t in danger anymore. But  I am to share this with you: I had to remove your entire womb.

Attila:  Does that mean her chances of motherhood are slighter now?

Professor:        It means she has no chance of becoming a mother.

Irén:    Still I can have a child.

Professor:        No. Nor can you be a surrogate mother, since you don’t have an ovary. You can hold someone else’s offspring in your arms and love it as if it were yours, but the moment of an embryo first moving in your body – when its kick seems like the light flapping of butterfly wings, and its touch makes brings mothers’ tears – nature or a higher power has irreversibly denied you this moment.

Attila:  We... We cannot accept this. We are going to press charges!

Professor:        Dear Attila, you have no chance of winning a trial in a court of law. Géza Gács is the most renowned expert in our country, with only one single person knowing more about gynecology. Me. Don’t deceive yourselves. Face your fate. Sob behind closed doors, or go on a trip for two weeks. I’ll leave it to you to decide. But do say farewell to the little boy or girl, whose features you thought would reflect your own in your happiest dreams for the future

(Hungarian folk song)

Hurts so bad, but what

     can  you do about this?

Hurts so bad, but what

     can you do about this?

However sad, it’s to come

     about like this

However sad, it’s to come

     about like this

Béla:    Hello Irén. Tickets please. Are you getting off at the next station? Of course you are, how stupid of me.  What did the doctor say? What you are going through for this child is.... Let me be honest with you... it’s superhuman. We talked about you only last night... It’s not human. Have they said anything besides what they always say? Or was it the same again? It was the same. Are you getting off at the next station? Of course you are, how stupid of me. Don’t ge me wrong Irén, but I work for the Orphanage at Felsőhát. There is always something that needs fixing, but the children love me, too. I tease them. We have fun, and they like my poems, too. We set a couple of them to music. Me and some of the Roma kids perform these songs with two guitars. I was told the songs weren’t bad. So, I found out how adoption works. So, first of all, Irén, if you want a baby, you need proof of eligibility from child protective services. But since you work there, you yourself can put the stamp on and save at least a month of waiting.  Then, you are put on a waiting list and you’ll get a child in two years’ time. Two years! So many are waiting. There are many miserable people. I am telling you this, so that you can start the process in time. Do you need help getting off? No. I’m sorry. Attila, I have the songs on tape. I can burn a cd if you want. Okay? I’m just saying, because I’m told they are really good. Fine, I’ll leave you alone. Bye-bye now. (exits)

Old Man Bandi, wearing a nylon promotional bag as a hat, enters.

Bandi:A good day to you, my dear Irén. Please, my dear Ati [diminutive for Attila], I know you have enough problems of your own, but I saw from my bathroom window that you’ve come back from Budapest, and my hair-dryer just broke down. Do take a look at it, please!

Attila:  Can’t it wait, Old Man Bandi?

Bandi:They are waiting for me at the OAP Club.

Attila:  Give it here.

Bandi:Thanks so much. You’re really kind. I was a fool. My hair was just fine, and I’d washed it just a week ago, but you know how it is.... After all, I feel better if I look like a human being. Not that I look any better if I wash my hair, but there are women who dig me. It surprises me, too, but when I go to the club, women tell me I look good. Not only that, they’re happy to accompany me to the loo. Really, Irén, I go to the loo every night!

Bandi:Jesus Christ.

Irén:    (to Attila) Give me the key to the local government office!

Attila:  Irén, let’s think it over again. Let’s wait a little!

Irén:    Give it to me!

Attila:  But that child won’t be ours. Perhaps we won’t be able to love it as much as if it were our own!

Irén:    Give me the keys!

Attila:  So I’ll say it. I don’t want to adopt a child, all right? Not yet.

Bandi:Jesus, how did I get mixed up in this?

Irén:    I want a child. Here in my arms.

Attila:  I want one, too. But not now.

Irén:    Then I’ll raise the child on my own, but give me the keys at once.

Attila:  You don’t need them. Here’s the stamp. Do whatever you want with it. Raise someone else’s child on your own!

Irén:    Just because you are healty? Because the Q6 helped? Because you can still have a child with another woman?

Attila:  I love you so much, Irén. If you want me to, I’ll have myself vasectomized!

Irén :   Find another woman who can bear you a child.

Attila:  I don’t want anyone but you. But let’s sleep on it. Let’s not make hasty decisions here. Let’s wait.

Irén:    We have been waiting for 5 years Attila. For 5 years.

Bandi:Don’t I have better things to do than eavesdrop on these poor people’s most intimate discussion? Just so that I have something to gossip about tonight? Am I such an insensitive bum? Such a stupid callous cunt?

Attila:  You’re right,  Irén.

Bandi:Of course, she’s right. There’s nothing to wait for, Ati. You’re 50, and she’s 42. Get a move on. But make sure it’s not a gypsy. You don’t need that, and neither does the village.

Irén stamps a sheet of paper. Simultaneously, Ágota [Ági], wearing a mask, enters. Meanwhile,, Bandi exits to the gradually receeding rattles of stepdancing.

Ági:     Well done. The protective services permit is fine. You described everything in detail in your application, but I would like to hear why you came to our orpahange. Why would you like to adopt a child?

Irén:    While I could still have a child of my own, I didn’t want one. When I did, it was already too late. I was an orphan, too. We’re back to square one.

Ági:     You were an orphan?

Irén:    Yes, but I didn’t learn that until I was an adult.

Ági:     How did you find out?

Irén:    My foster father’s second wife let it slip on my foster brother’s birthday.

Ági:     And have you looked for your real parents?

Irén:    Only my mother was alive by then.

Ági:     What was it like to meet her?

Irén:    I had imagined the most beautiful woman on earth and saw a shrunken housewife instead.

Ági:     You, Irénke are going to be the adopter?

Irén:    Yes.

Ági:     Why?

Attila: Athough we’re going to raise the child together, Irén alone is understood to be the adopter.

Ági:     You are only a common-law couple, so it’s fine, but whose name shall the child bear?

Attila:  We haven’t decided yet.

Ági:     If Irénke is the adopter, then it will have to be her name.

Irén:    I see. We’ll have to discuss that.

Ági:     You are welcome to decide later. And it will take about two years.

Irén:    Yes. We know.

Ági:     A gypsy wouldn’t take that long, but I suppose that is out of the question.

Irén:    Yes. Out of the question.

Ági:     Of course. Understandably. But then you’ll have to wait at least two years.

Attila:  Unfortunately.

Ági:     You wanted to take one home now, didn’t you?

Irén:    Yes. (They are crying.)

Ági:     Listen, I have two children, so I don’t know how it must feel, but believe me.... I have enough problems, too.

Child orphans wearing masks enter.

Orphans sing.

(Hungarian folk song)        

I am an orphan that even

   the sun won’t shine on

I am an orphan who is

 destined to have no Mom

Over my being an orphan,

   even the sun wails

As it forms a dark cloud

  to cover the sky it veils

Irén:    Who are they?

Ági:     The eight-graders have just finished dinner. They are preparing for mass.

Irén:    Oh, dear! What a sad procession. Such anguished faces. Their eyes bore into my heart!

Ági:     They’ve had little joy. We do everything we can, but their is no substitute for a parent’s love.

Irén:    May I speak to them?

Ági:     If you start speaking to them, they can’t help seeing their future parents in you.

Irén:    Speak to them.

Ági:     I’d advise against that.

Irén:    We have every right. Speak to them!

Ági:     If you wish. Grade 8B.

Irén:    No. I got so scared suddenly!

Ági:     Too late. They noticed us. You should have considered that sooner.

Orphans: (singing)     

They tossed me hither and thither,

   unwatered plants can’t but wither...

Ági:     Children. We wish to speak to you, because Auntie Irén and Uncle Attila would like to have a chat with you. Don’t get the wrong idea now, children. They don’t want anything other than to chat!

 Irén:   Hello!

Attila:  Hello!

Ági:     Zsolti! Introduce yourself.

Zsolti:  Good day, auntie. Good day, uncle. I am Zsolt Makaró.

Ági:     Say something about yourself!

Zsolti:  I am Zsolt Makaró.

Ági:     A little more than that.

Zsolti:  My GPA is A minus, but I working on it. I need better grades in PE, but unfortunately I’m not physically well built. Although I’m 15, I haven’t reached puberty yet, since my testicles haven’t descended yet.  But I trust the uncle doctor and believe in the Lord Jesus. Many say I’m cute. Thank you!

Ági:     It’s your turn Rózsi.

Muck:  What for? I’ll never be the one they choose to take home!

Ági:     We don’t have time for this. Introduce yourself.

Rózsi:  Rózsa Demján was the name given to me by the woman who gave birth to me. By the woman I hate most in the world. I suffer the most. I work much more than all the others But I’m the one you’ll never choose to take home, since there’s no justice in the world!

Ági:     You may as well have said ”Hello” or ”Good day”, but never mind. That’s the way we love you, Rózsika. Come on, little Kálmán!

Peti:     Hello and God bless you both. My name is Kálmán Lakatos. I believe in God. And I believe that I can still be happy!

Rózsi:  Take me home! Take me home with you, please! In the name of the Lord Jesus, take me home with you!

Ági:     Do you mind? Little Kálmán isn’t finished yet.

Rózsi:  I’ll do anything. I’ll help with everything. Just take me with you.

Ági:     You had your chance. Let little Kálmán speak.

Peti:     Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb...

Attila:  Stand up, children!

Peti:     Take me home with you! In the name of the Holy Virgin.

All children get down on knees and begin hanging on Irén and Attila.

Ági:     Listen up. Grade 8B. Line up along the way.

They line up.

Ági:     You see? Is this what you wanted? It will take a week for me to calm them down. Go home now. And next time, do think twice about what you are doing.

Irén:    No. We made our choice.

Ági:     Stop it. Please go home.

Irén:    We have made our choice!

Ági:     Really? Whom have you chosen?

Attila:  Rózsi Demján.

Ági:     Why her?

Irén:    That’s none of your business!

Attila:  We wanted a girl.

Ági:     Her nickname is Muck. She has no manners. She is selfish and goes with men!

Irén:    We don’t care what you think!

Ági:     Listen! You have just been through a really tough operation. You are still very upset. Your judgment is blurred. I want to help you. Please go home now!

Attila:  Whatever the doctors have done to Irén, she is still a woman. And as of today, a mother. We want to take the child with us!

Ági:     All right. Muck. Come here, please.

Ági:     You picked me because of the flower, didn’t you?

Irén:    Yes. We chose you because we found you so different. Because... your flower bore into our hearts.

Ági:     She only keeps it there to cover her ugly teeth.

Irén:    So what? We don’t judge people based on their teeth. How ugly?

Ági:     Dire. Appalling.

Attila:  But the teeth can be fixed, can’t they?

Ági:     No idea. Do I look like a dentist?

Rózsi enters.

Irén:    Rózsi, we live in a small village called Csővár, in the hills. I’m a social worker. Uncle Attila has an organic bakery... You know, the people in our village are old. They are all pensioners. We have a quiet little house with a big garden in the center.  Five minutes walk from the church, and the deli is on the corner. We get up early every day.  Uncle Attila starts a fire in the oven, and I go see the pensioners. I do their shopping, cut up firewood, or bathe them. Can you see yourself helping with the work?

Rózsi:  Yes. 

Attila:  Last winter we bought a hearth. It is very nice in the evenings. That is when we rehearse. You know, I organise a theatre group in the village. Can you see yourself spending these evenings with us?

Rózsi:  Yes.

Irén:    Uncle Attila and I cannot have children of our own. We came here to put our names on the list for a baby which we wouldn’t have gotten for another two years. Would you be an older sister to that baby? Can you see yourself coming home with us? 

Rózsi:  No.

Irén:    What? What did you say?

Rózsi:  I cannot go home with you.

Attila:  Why? Have we hurt you somehow?

Rózsi:  I made a blood pact with a girl here. We promised never to leave each other. Her name is tattood onto my arm: Anita Romváry. She has always protected me every time evil sets its eyes on me.  No matter how much I loathe this place, I won’t go anywhere without Anita Romváry. Please forgive me, Auntie Renata.

Ági:     Auntie Irén.

Rózsi:  You see? Again. Evil attacks.

Ági:     (to Muck) Oh, dear. You’re really ugly when you cry. Go, join the others.(to Irén and Attila) You got lucky. Bless God and go home.

Irén:    No. We’ll take both.

Ági:     And how will you feed two grown children like these?

Attila:  Where there is room for one, there is room for two.

Ági:     Are you in this for the money? You know the EU pays for each child, don’t you?

Attila:  No. It’s the first time we’ve heard about that.

Ági:     It’s not worth it. Believe me. It’s not worth it.

Irén:    Tell the children we are leaving. 

Ági:     Go tell them yourselves.

Attila:  Where can we find them?

Ági:     Rózsi is listening in on our conversation by the door, and Anita is playing foosball in the cellar.

Attila:  The stairs are here to the left?

Ági:     And if you don’t like the other girl?

Attila:  We will.

Ági:     Think about it. Please, think about it.

Irén:    Thank you for your help. Good bye.

Irén:    Are you happy?

Rózsi Yes.

Irén:    Are you sure?

Rózsi:  Believe me I’ve never been so happy in my life. I can’t show my feelings is all. I’m too special, unfortunately. I’ve suffered a lot because of that.

Irén:    Sure you can show your feelings. You asked us so nicely to take you with us.

Rózsi:  That was different. I was lying then. I wanted to get out of here. But only because of you. I wanted to get out because of you.

Irén:    I don’t understand.

Rózsi:  Yeah, okay. I don’t understand either. But you don’t have to understand everything. I’m a Scorpio. A have a very bad nature.

Irén:    You’ll change. I’m sure you’ll change while you’re with us.

Rózsi:  I don’t believe in that. People don’t change, but may you be right, auntie.

Irén:    Please call me Irén.

Rózsi:  Fine. (Silence)

Irén:    Uncle Attila is about to bring Anita.

Rózsi:  Yes. I know.

Irén:    I can’t wait to see what she’s like. Such an aristocratic name. It was very touching the way you insisted we take her, too.

Rózsi:  We made a blood-pact.

Irén:    How?

Rózsi:  We tied our veins together with a petrol tube.

Irén:    Didn’t you get hurt?

Rózsi:  I was hospitalized for two months, and Anita’s left arm nearly got amputated, but it was worth it.

Irén:    I see.

Rózsi:  Did the youth worker say anything about my teeth?

Irén:    Your teeth? Well, yes... She did…

Rózsi:  She said they were ugly, didn’t she?

Irén:    Well... yes. Something to that effect.

Rózsi:  They’re not ugly. Okay, they’re not perfect, but she spoke from envy. Because she can’t have normal relationships with men, and I have many boyfriends.

Irén:    Yes, she mentioned that, too.

Rózsi:  What did she say?

Irén:    Well, she said... that you’ve had serious relationships.

Rózsi:  That’s not true. She lied to you.

Irén:    Yes. I was sure she was lying.

Rózsi:  Would you like to see my teeth?

Irén     (silence) Yes. I don’t want you to cover up. I would like you to be free with us. To remove this mask!

Rózsi:  I’ve been planning to for a long time. Yes, the moment has come. Here we go.

Rózsi turns around. Attila re-enters and sits beside Irén without a word.

Irén:    What happened? Couldn’t you find her?

Attila:  (numbly) I could. I did.

Rózsi:  Farewell, my lovely old rose.

Rózsi turns. Her teeth are revoltingly bad. Irén falls from her seat.

Irén:    Dear God!

Rózsi:  They’re mot so bad, are they?

Irén:    (nauseated) Not at all. Barely noticeable. Right, Attila?

Attila:  (revolted) Right. That’s what we call a small blemish.

Anita [Ani] enters. She is clearly Roma.

Ani:     What’s up Romungro? What are you doing on the floor? Are you high?

Irén:    Jesus!

Rózsi:  Didn’t the youth worker mention it?

Irén:    No. She didn’t.

Ani:     Who are these people, Rózsi?

Rózsi:  Did you know that Anita can recite poems beatifully? She will be a treasure for the literary circle. What are you working on?

Attila:  Excuse me?

Rózsi:  What are you working on in the literary circle?

Attila:  Folk ballads. I’ve just put together a bunch. There will be a national theatre festival in the spring. We are preparing for that.

Rózsi:  Take us, too. You won’t regret it. Orphans know all about pain. We’ll give you a hand in the bakery. We’ll help everywhere. I, for one, speak English perfectly. We’ll love you so much. More than your flesh-and-blood children.

Ani:     Why are you talking like this? May cancer feed on your heart. Tell me who these people are.

Rózsi whspers something in Anita’s ear, and the girls being a dance of joy. Meanwhile, the people of the village enter with a baby carriage and all sorts of baby things. The villagers sing as a chorus.

Villagers:        (singing)

Dear Lord, dear Lord, what’s got into me?

A three-meter red ribbon can’t reach around my waist.

A three-meter red ribbon can’t reach around my waist.

Bandi:             We’ve come to meet the train

To pick up our angels: Attila and Irén.

All have come, young and old –

Though none are really young, truth to be told.

Pali:                 In two years, a child will come –

A joy for the old, not only for some.

Welcome, beauty! Welcome youth!

We we wish you the best, and that’s the truth!

Villagers:        A three-meter red ribbon doesn’t reach around my waist.

Bandi: Irén, Attila. We know it may seem early, but please allow me to present you with this pram on behalf of the village. Use it well. Forgive us this little celebration, but we wanted to show much we love you and that we are on your side in these difficult times.

Pali:     Etus says this will suit either a boy or a girl.

Etus:    It will be perfect. Whether it’s a boy or a girl, this colour will be lovely.

Bandi:To tell the truth, it will be difficult to wait two years before we finally have a child in the village.

Attila:  You won’t have to wait, Uncle Bandi. Not a minute longer.

Bandi:No? What do you mean, Ati? We won’t have to wait for what?

Irén:    There will be a child in our house.

Bandi:(silence) You mean in two years?

Irén:    No. Starting this very minute.

Bandi:(silence) I don’t understand, dear Irén. They’ll give you a baby right away?

Attila:  Not a baby… not one, and not in the future tense.

Bandi:What? What are you talking about?

Etus:    I knew it. They’ve lost their marbles. What with everything they’ve been through! It’s a miracle it hasn’t happened before. My poor, dear Irén...

Pali:     (noticing Rózsi and Anita) Who are they?

Bandi:Hitchhiking sluts. Go away. Get back on the train. This is a decent village. We don’t need your services here!

Béla:    No! I know them. They’re from the orphanage. From Felsőhát. Hello, Rózsi!

Rózsi:  Hello Béla. You live here?

Béla:    Yep.

Bandi:(silence) Irén… This can’t be true, is it?

Irén:    Yes, it is, Old Man Bandi. They’re our daughters.


Bandi:Children. I’ve been living in Csővár for 72 years, and we have never had gypsies in the village. Never. Believe me, the moment they set foot in a place, they won’t leave a stone standing. We don’t want to interfere with your lives, but please, do take them back. Take them both back – at least, the Gypsy girl!

Attila:  Dear Old Man Bandi! I don’t understand how we ended up in this situation. I will understand it if you ostracize us, but I hope it won’t come to that.

Bandi:That’s not the point, Ati, but... Look at them. What do they look like?

Irén:    The first impression is but a mask, which will fall off with time, and the real face beneath it will look entirely different.

Attila:  And there’s nothing else we want to tell you about adopting the children.