An April NightHe had grown tired. All through his body he felt that he was a worn-out man. Of course, he wasn’t going to tell anybody. He was one of those people with a little (maybe) exaggerated diligence who can work and endure and not always say what they think or feel. He had been striving hard for a lifetime: the figures of the plan, meetings, steel, pledges, quality, ethics, criticism, self-criticism. At the beginning his life had been quieter. He used to work for ten, sometimes twelve hours a day, but he hadn’t felt as worn-out as he felt now. He was going home by bike, slowly, and he was thinking of a cottage of wood and earth, a shingle roof, forgotten, on a barren peak in the wind. He had come down from the Western Carpathians to learn a trade. He was a foundry foreman at the steel works and was longing for that hut with its child’s face-sized windows. He was pedaling slowly. In the dim glow of the headlight he saw couples taking their time at the gates and was wondering why spring hadn’t come yet without noticing that the morello cherry trees and cherry trees in the people’s yards were in bloom. In the old days he had had time enough to do some gardening, to go fishing or bathing with his kids in the Mureş. Now he no longer knew what the garden looked like, his children, he would kiss and caress them while they were sleeping. All his days were alike; he went to the works in the morning, in the afternoon he would run from one meeting to another, draw up long-term plans of action, of work, take the floor, write memos. His wife worked at the glass factory and there were days when they didn’t meet and nights when they didn’t sleep together because their shifts didn’t match. Tired, she would go to bed early. He came home late and would not wake her up. Sometimes they would leave notes for each other on the table, near the food; they “used to tell” each other what they were to do. That very morning he had found a “Leave-me-some-money-for-the-milk” note written on a calendar sheet which had been put on the salt-cellar. He left her more money than she needed for the milk and wrote, “Pay the rent as well, today”s the last day.” They were satisfied, and one might even say happy. They had a nice house, built with a state loan. He stopped in front of the house, stared at it and calculated that he still had five years’ installments to pay. He entered the yard the moment the work’s siren was sounding for the night shift. He noticed the light in the kitchen and understood that his wife was waiting for him. He hung his jacket on the peg, took his shoes off in the hall.
“Good evening,” he said.
“Good eve… it is good, but it’s not quite evening.”
“How are you?” he asked as usual.
He took his clothes off and had a shower. His wife brought him a clean towel. The cold water refreshed him up and removed his tiredness.
“Have you paid for the milk, the rent?”
The woman nodded. Then he sat down at the table. The bean soup on the stove was hot. The woman put some soup in his bowl. You could only hear the spoon gently hitting the porcelain of the plates.
“How many awards have I got?” asked the man. The woman laughed heartily and seemed younger and more beautiful.
“What’s got into you?” she wondered aloud.
“A journalist came to our plant. He asked me what awards I had got … I wasn’t able to say.”
“Can’t you tell me?”
“You can count them.”
“The journalist asked me what I wished for myself, ‘Yes, tell me,’ he said, ‘something special. You know something human … What is your wish? Your hope?’ ”
“And what did you tell him?”
“Something like: ‘I live hoping that one day I shall come home to my family and I shan’t feel lonely and a stranger…’”
They stared at each other in silence for a long time. Then he asked, “What do you think? Will they let it be printed?”