TRUE STORY

  Saturday in the morning after dawn a strange light is shining upon the town. If one did not know that it is sweltering summer he may also think that something is to be prepared with the powers above, but it is not so. The town is still silent, it is dawning. At the empty street a single soul breaks the order of silence, a Puli is passing through the crosswalk, straight to the market. As it is Saturday in the morning, nobody wakes up early, hurries to work, or pushes himself or herself forward on public means of transport to get to his or her workplace in time. Only the market starts buzzing louder than usual as not so much crowd is expected on weekdays as that time. At the time of sunrise vans with meat are occupying the square, and the suppliers are bustling about. One can hear the bumps of empty cases so that the full ones replacing them can fill every cooling chamber in full. People are yelling and even the street-sweepers finished their work so that the Saturday market can begin clearly. The market where anything can be bought at any time and where man goes not only for shopping but also to be among people.

  The meat sellers broke the silence of the night and they are followed by the florists. With their huge baskets they bring colours and dress the square into celebration clothes. The bar-keepers are opening the wings of the window-shutters locked not so long ago. The scent of hot oil from the bakeries are filling the air, by luring people near to barbecue stalls. The Puli also knew that as this is the case in each Saturday. She is sitting eagerly next to the back entry of the sausage stall, nicely and obediently as is proper for a well-mannered dog; she becomes an unmoving sculpture, an ornament of the square so long until the bakery boy carries out the first waste. Then she looks at the boy so humbly as one looks at God himself. She knows how to obtain that piece of sausage from the boy’s pocket and she eats it with relish. There is no thanksgiving, it is not usual with urban stray dogs, but there is only gratitude which keeps until the next bit of the next morning. Because all familiar market hucksters already know her the Puli, who has no name but only Puli.

  But she is not an ownerless stray dog, but she does have a master, not even one. Although she got familiar with that painful side of life as well as a puppy, but fortunately she was adopted and she got a family. The stray puppy was given shelter by stray people, urban gipsies who did not know that time in the morning what they would eat in the evening when the sun set. Especially Ibolya, the tiny girl coddled and pampered her eagerly, dragged her along to everywhere she turned up at the market. Puli did not get a posh leash, jewellery or collar, but a simple string was put round her neck until she necessarily learned the basic rules of gipsy life, that is the nearness and priority of the master. But as the tiny girl did not attend school, spent almost the whole day with her and Puli especially like that. As a sign for gratitude she learned some things, to which we will return later. The girl grew up, she got a family with several kids. But when she wakes up the family and the kids on Saturdays, the sun is pretty much up on the sky, moreover Puli has rambled the whole market, had a breakfast and established the joyful fact that today scores of customers are coming to the square again. After she has finished her job, she sits at her usual place, before the former stall of the mushroom inspector, under the roof into the shadow. There are legs passing by before her nose, but these people do not take the slightest notice of her, such a shaggy, scruffy and bushy dog with cut hair. In return she does not pay attention to people passing by, she sometimes growls to some hands which would happen to feel pity for her and would stoke her instead of giving food to her.

  She is excitedly inspecting the crosswalk waiting for their coming. And the gipsy society arrives at the market. Their first way leads to the tavern as is proper. Namely it was a tavern in old days, but now its honest name is a drink shop. They go into the pub to have a breakfast because man can see everything in another way through the glasses of daze due to a good mixed brandy early in the morning. But what unemployed and penniless people are looking for at the market? Only God and of course Puli know that. Because the events are moving on in a way that cannot be noticed by people passing by, and that can be hardly observed even by those working at the market. While the gipsies are taking their time in the pub at the counter together with a cold wine spritzer, one of them unnoticeably starts walking and watching with Puli. Watching everywhere at the market, and what is more, exactly at places where the hugest crowd stands before the counter of some shops.

  Because people are coming for shopping with thick purses so that the Saturday and Sunday dinners they will have with their families in festive mood can be as majestic as possible. They also know that, the snatching gipsies, who apparently visit the market to look around in the morning. At once the young boy appears at the pub but without Puli. He left her somewhere. He asks for a cold coke and sits next to her mother to the place from where his brother just stood up. The other boy does not go into the centre of the market but to the stall of the mushroom inspector. He is standing in front of it and urgingly keeps looking at the crosswalk until finally a black ball turns up among people crossing the road. It’s Puli. She gives a nod to the boy in a hurry and they join to continue their way together …

  When the second kid returns to the cool pub, a little gipsy girl leaves for the mushroom stall according to the scenario, where she waits for Puli and they together walk to the greengrocer’s. To the greengrocer’s where an enormous queue is waiting for measuring the vegetables for the soup. Although the seller has whirling and quick hands, people follow one another. The little girl also stands into the queue to struggle into the crowd. The housewives open their handbags, they approximately count the money to be paid and then put their purses into their bags, wait for the vegetables giving colour and taste to the Sunday meat soup so that they can put them into their shopping bags and go forward as soon as possible. The gipsy girl gets stuck among the customers, then she gives a nod and as if she feels bored and enough that she is trodden down, she stands out from the queue. Puli sits a bit farther silently waiting and keeps searching the girl’s look.

  At once a great shout makes the monotonous rumbling murmur of the crowd unusual. “THIEF!” – a woman shouts. Thief! But by the time the policemen grab the girl’s wrist, they find nothing at her. She would not be able to hide that thick purse anywhere as she is wearing a sleeveless blouse which was not washed for weeks and a pocketless thin skirt with red roses on her waist. But Puli can be seen nowhere. She is already far away, she is just sitting on the roadside before the red light and holding a wide black purse in her mouth so that after the light turns on green, she could be swallowed by the Saturday crowd of the streets of the town. Where does she go? No one knows, no one can know.

  The market ends just as quick as it started. Now only the sellers are packing and washing dishes. They bring out the daily waste and after changing clothes they hurry to their families to spend the remaining part of the weekend together. After the opening hours, a gipsy husband appears at the butcher. He pulls out a batch of crumpled money from his pocket and buys half a kilo of the cheap fatty part of the rib-side … “I take it for a dog” – he explains … and the butcher chops it with a cleaver. The wish of the nice customer is a command! While in the evening, somewhere in the town, the meat is being cooked in the gipsies’ home, Puli is forced to wait patiently for her turn in the pipe smoke of gipsies playing cards … because she knows that the morning will come when she can get a sausage instead of the stringy bacon piece of meat and the whole family counts on her again … because how they could raise the bet when playing cards, if there were not she, the Puli.