Sunday, 16th February 1997
In-between I had been with Elizabeth but not often. I had
fallen seriously ill in autumn the year before and then 'the
long winter working days' had started in the Embassy, so I
had little or no time to record Elizabeth's tales. But this
Sunday I went with my tape-recorder once again and, to my
delight, Elizabeth had nothing against carrying on our
'verbal walk through her life'.
She was warmly packed-up, as always in winters. She
needed special quilts, cushions and blankets to wrap her up,
only sitting. And, of course, her woolen headscarf.
Elizabeth's puppies, newly born on Christmas day, created a
racket. We eventually calmed all of them (mother and four
puppies) and were able to talk.
I asked her once again to tell me how it came about
that she and her mother went to India and how Tagore was
involved in their coming to this country.
see there was no plan. Mother was painting near Lake Balaton
the different lights, different parts of the days and the
nights, different moods you know, like very soothing
moments, very rough and nerve-racking moments. She had
thoroughly solved the various aspects of this Lake. This
probably gave a soothing effect to her own mind. Because,
remember, the War had shattered all their ideals, naturally
she was fed-up. ... But during the day, she could not get
the effect of the storm so dramatic as she had seen it at
Where we stayed, we were surrounded by high mountains
with some roads but mainly small rough ways, and narrow
paths only. So one evening we saw her collecting all her
painting utensils, brushes and saying nothing to us (my
aunt, grandfather and my father) she went away. My father
ran after her to find out where she was going. But she did
not reply to him. So he was giving her a coat, as it was
rather cold. And he wanted to accompany her. But she
refused. She wanted to go alone. She just left. The whole
family was feeling upset. What is happening. Where is she
going. Is she doing something violent to herself because
this was always hanging in the air.
So she went.
finally in her writings
- many years later -
I found the answer to this in her diaries.
had started on the trail up the Csúcshegy Mountain
[Elizabeth pronounced it Tshutshhedy]. But she did not reach
the top of the hill, when the rain started with the terrible
storm. There was a little light left and she saw on her left
hand side something slightly higher coming out of the
mountain. So she walked towards it and discovered that it
was a cave. And she could go in, fix her easel and quietly
sit, and face the storm from inside the cave. In that
terrifying darkness she painted. She finished the painting,
and the storm stopped. She walked down the hill in dry
After Mary's nice lunch, the talk continued. Dagmar
started, "You told me once, dearest Elizabeth, that
your mother was already deeply involved in the spiritual
world with like-minded friends around herself. She had also
read books by Tagore you mentioned."
"Yes", started Elizabeth, "mother must
have had some special experiences there in that cave in the
hills, but she never used to diclose it.
A few years passed. Every summer we went to Lake
Balaton. Among their friends, some were very spiritual. And
also two friends were practicing fasting. One of them, Imre
Simay, Director of the Graphics Department of the Iparmüveszeti
Föiskola (School of Applied Arts), in Budapest, was a good
friend of the family. He used to be with us at Lake Balaton.
I knew him from the age of four. In the West there was this
big movement of realisation through fasting and doing yoga.
And Imre Simay was very much advanced and he would talk
sincerely about his experiences. He had fasted for forty-one
days and cured himself from his illness (I have forgotten
what it was).
Mother was fascinated. She was having migraine from
quite young age onwards, starting with half an hour and then
one hour. And by the time she put me into the Academy at
Budapest, she had sometimes three days migraine.
So mother decided it all by herself. And she fasted
for twenty-eight days without disclosing it to anyone. One
day when I came back from my classes, she could not speak
anymore. She was just lying on the sofa. So I rushed to
Simay and told him about mother. She had told me when she
started to fast, 'can you promise me something?' And of
course I answered, 'yes, yes, yes'. She said, 'even if your
father comes, you don't open the door.' Because father was
in Nagykanizsa and we were in Budapest. She did not want her
friends to see her grow thinner and thinner. She had
decided, 'either I will kill myself or I will get well with
Simay was very upset and said 'why did she not tell
me that she would start. You don't fast like that. You fast
for three days, keep two days normally, then you fast for
five days, and slowly like this you go up. She must eat
something immediately. Some fruit or some raw things.'
I went to the market and bought all sorts of things. There
were some fruits from Italy, and other fruits and
And the shopkeeper put also garlic into the bag. But
my mother never ate garlic because she thought she got her
migraine from garlic. And garlic was never permitted to be
brought to the house. So I washed all the things (carrots,
apples, and the garlic ...) and laid them on a tray. And
this I put on the table beside the sofa where she was lying.
She did not see and took something from the tray
happened to be the garlic, put it into her mouth, slowly
chewed and swallowed it. Then she opened her eyes again. I
don't know whether she knew what she had been eating. She
had gone too far." Dagmar said incredulously, "so,
by chance, she picked the garlic, ate it, and got
well?" Elizabeth nodded, "yes, eventually she
became alright again." Dagmar asked, "she never
had any more headaches?" And Elizabeth said,
Elizabeth continued, "her vision became clear
again. She did that great Christ painting. And through all
the discussions with her interesting friends, who were
almost all influenced by the Orient, she must have decided
to go to India. She continued painting those visionary
motives. That means she was totally pure, physically and
Dagmar asked, "what were you doing then at that
time and after your mother got well again?" Elizabeth
answered, "I was still at that Academy of Fine Arts,
wanting to become a sculptor.
You see, I never asked mother what she painted and
what she was doing, but sometimes I watched her work. Yes,
and then I got also very much affected by all the talk of
her friends, because her friends were automatically my
And perhaps I became a little like her. In those days
- this was the time after the war -
I saw horrible sights. I had to cross the bridge to
go to the classes. We lived in Buda, the Academy was on the
Pest side. Alway I saw those miserable people. So my heart
is very soft and I started not be able to bear the world any
One day when I came back, I saw a gentleman, artist
like, he had the usual beard, he was coming in front of me
with bare feet in that cold weather.
this will look to you like the same action of my mother.
went home after passing that gentleman and told my mother
that from this day onwards, I would only walk bare-foot.
Then I collected all the collectable things in the
house, went outside Budapest, where I had never been before,
where all the poor people lived and distributed all the
things to them. I thought if this man can do it, I can also
But then I saw I cannot do it. Because I had only a
handful and there were so many needy people. It was just
like a drop in the ocean. So this shocked me terribly.
Because I was hoping to feel happier after giving away all