Location: Olde Foxbury
Born 3 years, 7 months ago
Species: Big Cat
House: FurCash House
Career (View All)
János looks stunning!
((Pronounced YAH-nōsh; "a" as in palm , "o" as in "goat."))
You cautiously sit down on the grass, silently observing as the kneeling tiger packs down the soil around a freshly-planted flower. Its delicate white petals quiver slightly with the tiger's gentle movements. You are hesitant to say anything to distract him. His back is to you, but you know that he heard you come into the garden.
"What do you want?" he asks, his voice deep and somewhat tired. You guess he does not get visitors often. His accent is very thick and hard to place, the 'w' being pronounced like a 'v'. He does not turn around to ask you this question, simply sitting still, facing away from you, hovering over the flower.
You ask what flower that is.
"Ah," he mutters, finally turning to look at you. His eyes are intense, and seem to be much older than his face. He brushes off the sleeves of his sweater. "It is a crocus. From my country. I like them."
He seems prepared to stop talking then. He is about to turn back to his garden.
Tell me about yourself.
"Ah. Okay. So that's what you want." He has a slight smile on his face.
"I was, eh, 13 when they came. Eventually, I was glad that I had an excuse to leave. Always wanted to leave. Did not have a good childhood. Very... very hard. Much sadness." He moves over to a new spot in the soil, turning back away from you. You see his eyes narrow before he looks away. "Of course, I did not know anything else. At that time, I was angry because I could not stay." He gives a wry chuckle and picks up a new flower from the large pot behind him. "I just knew it was not good. All the kids around me, dying, getting hurt all the time. Accidents and sickness. We were, eh, very poor. Very little things we owned. Few animals. We were bad off when they came and took the animals."
He packs the soil again, much harder than last time. The force behind his paws is too strong, and the flower shakes in the ground.
"My brothers and sister and I, we did not like this. My two older brothers, they told me, stay here because I was too young. They went to the capital and fought. They did not come back. My parents, very sad. My sister, she said, let's go. And so we did. I feel bad, very bad for leaving my parents that way. But we had to, or else we would not have made it."
He stops speaking and moves onto the next flower. You sit for a few minutes while he works. It seems he is done speaking for good this time. A butterfly floats over and lands on the tip of his tail, which stops twitching.
After a another minute he turns back. "Why you still here?"
Did you ever meet them?
"Ah. No, no, I never encountered them myself. But my brothers did. That is why they went. They saw how cruel they were. They saw how they did not like our people. Think they deserve more than us because they are the true Soviets, ya? So my brothers went to fight. They did not want them in our country."
So what happened when you left?
"Eh, we took our bikes. We took some forints we had saved, just a little money. And we left. We ran into some soldiers, but they were with us. Told us to keep going. We were nervous, at first. Not knowing if they would just shoot us there. Very scared. But we kept going. Eventually we made it, ya? Had to leave our bikes and get on a train in Austria. It was hard, but eventually I made it here. I am glad I left, though. Things were even worse back home. Many deaths, many bad things. Very bad off after the revolution. But I am here now. That's it." He turned back to his garden, tail twitching. The butterfly fluttered around his head.
And what about your sister?
He freezes. It takes him a while to respond. "Maybe, it is best if you leave now." His voice has a slight rasp to it. He gets up and enters the back door of the little red-roofed house without looking at you.
A small drop of water glistens on the crocus.
2/24/17: Special Gala Story!
János sits uncomfortably at one of the glittering tables. He keeps tugging at his cuffs and collar.
You ask him what's wrong.
"These parties. They are not really something I do."
You keep looking at him. He stares back apathetically. You eventually ask him to elaborate.
He gives a short grunt of annoyance. "When I was young, we never had these parties. Always work. I got up early every morning and took care of the animals. These parties, these dances, we rarely had them. Occasionally on holidays. Always at weddings. Lots of weddings we danced at. But that was it. And lots of the happiness left after the oppression began."
Suddenly, a lively, jovial folk tune begins, the violin bleating excitedly from the stage. János' ears perk up in surprise. "I know this song!"
He hesitantly stands. "My mother, she taught us this dance very young. For cousin's wedding. My sister loved this dance."
His head begins to bob to the beat, and his foot taps on the floor. He gradually begins to move toward the dance floor.
The other animals who had started dancing were following random, unplanned movements, but János seems to see the old steps playing out in front of him. He begins to softly clap his hands to the beat.
You follow him to the crowd.
Among the dancers, a young deer with long braids seems to catch János' attention. He steps closer to her and murmurs something which you don't catch. Her face lights up.
They take hands (paws, hooves) for a moment, beginning to twist side to side and kick their feet. They spring apart, János clapping loudly and stepping roughly to the side as the deer twirls. As they go on, they begin to draw the attention of the others.
You are swept up with a partner as others begin to follow their steps. Join, twist, kick, twirl, clap, step, kick, clap...
The atmosphere is merry as more and more couples join into the dance. At the center of it is still János and the deer, and they are both getting gradually more intense as the song picks up, doing more complicated movements and steps that the crowd finds harder to follow. Animals are twirling around the dance floor.
You catch a glimpse of János through the throng of dancing bodies, and he is practically glowing. He has a huge smile on his face. He is happier than he has been in a long time.
Then, just as suddenly as it began, the song ended, a loud high note for the finale.
Everyone clapped, and János seems to get a bit flustered, but the smile doesn't leave his face. He thanks the deer and makes his way out of the crowd.
You follow him back to the table.
You watch him closely. He is breathing heavily, his large chest heaving, but he looks positively radiant.
He catches you staring and grins even wider, knowing that he's been caught having a good time at the Gala. "What're you looking at, hey?" he asks teasingly.
5/11/17-5/13/17 - I've been wanting to elaborate more on his history for a while, so here it is! I had to keep leaving so it took me 3 days to write, lol. And um. Yes, there are anthropomorphic animals who own animals. Don't question it, it just makes things more complicated.
János pulls out a chair for you at his round kitchen table. The red-and-white checkered tablecloth is worn, but it doesn't look tattered. You squeeze into the seat. The kitchen is very small, but that's to be expected in a house meant for a single person. Despite the cramped conditions, the atmosphere has a quaint feel to it, with plenty of rustic charm to go around.
János sits across from you in the other chair, nursing his cup of coffee. Sunlight streams in through the large window next to the table, which overlooked his garden. After a moment's hesitation, he pushes the window open and lets the breeze roll in, fluttering the paper napkins in their holder.
"What you want this time, eh?" he asks jovially. This had become a regular routine of yours. As time passed, the grumpy tiger had opened up to you and began to enjoy answering your questions, and you had noticed a marked improvement in his English, as well.
Tell me about your family?
A strained smile breaks over his face. You know this is a sensitive topic for him, but you felt like it would be good for him to talk about it (plus, you're a little nosy). However, it wouldn't be good to push him...
"It's okay, most of the memories are good," he assures you. You assume that he must have noticed the uncertainty on your face. He continues on.
"Ehhh... where should I start. My father, he was a big, powerful worker. He could do more on the farm than all three of me and my brothers combined." He let out a small chuckle and lifted the coffee to his mouth. "He was very strict, but he was kind. Always stuck to the rules but he loved us very much, I could tell. He worked us hard in the fields but made sure we were okay. He was a very skilled laborer. Loved doing farm work, the feel of the earth, the soil under his paws. Seeing a plant grow was one of his favorite things. He would call us when the first sprout appeared in the ground, and say, look! Look at the new life, how green and small it is. It always amazed him. On the inside, he was, eh, very gentle."
János gazes out the window at a large monarch butterfly that had alighted on his crocuses.
"My father had lots of Russian blood. Said his great-grandparents were pure Siberians. Obviously, we have been here for so long that we cannot call ourselves that any longer. At first he sympathized with the communists, as did many, of course. But it changed quickly. They came and took our things, our animals, robbed us and broke into houses. He quickly turned against them, as did our whole family, but there was nothing we could do."
Tell me about the animals.
"Mmm. My favorite was a dairy cow, she was very sweet. We did not name the animals, except for the dogs, but I called her Dorottya, in secret. Dot for short. She gave all our milk. We had many chickens, we got eggs from them. We raised pigs for meat. We had one horse for field work, a big brute of an animal. Taller than I am now! There were lots of cats in the barn, to catch the mice. We had some dogs too. Andor was a big black mutt. Eh, we had Attila, the guard dog for the stables. Sari was a good dog too. She had many puppies by Attila. When the soldiers came, and took all the animals, that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to live through. The look in Dot's eyes when they took her away, it was so sad. I wanted her to stay, I remember crying to her and begging them to let her stay, but my father held me back and watched them take her. His face was very serious. I suddenly understood that this was much more serious than just the animals."
János' face is grave. He absentmindedly swishes the coffee in its cup and reaches over to shut the window. The breeze has turned cold, and gray clouds cover the expanse of the sky, blotting out the sun. The butterfly has long since floated away, and János cranes his neck to look for it, letting out a tiny sigh of relief when he spots it inside a small birdhouse.
Catching your look, he says, "It's a butterfly house," and offers no further explanation.
"Anyway, the communist soldiers continued coming into our neighborhood. They robbed houses and wine cellars, and we were all very angry. Soon after that, the revolution began."
What about the rest of your family?
He gives a half-hearted smile. "Oh yes, that's how we started this conversation, eh? My mother was a very pretty tiger, always chased after by the boys in our village when she was young. She always said to my father, you're very lucky to have married me! Whenever he made her mad she would threaten to go marry someone else." He chuckled. "She says, there are many other men who want me!" His laugh grows greater. "She had a wonderful sense of humor. She always made the children laugh." János smiles into his coffee, now lukewarm. "Eh, she was not the best cook, but then again, she never had a lot to work with. Especially when they started taking our land, our fields. We could not grow many crops, everyone was short on food. But no one minded. She was a great sewer. Um. Stitcher?"
A seamstress, you tell him.
He nods. "A great seamstress, and embroiderer. She could make so many patterns that even white thread on plain brown fabric looked like a masterpiece. She used to make all kinds of things and make wonderful designs on them. Sometimes kids would come to her to repair their clothes for them. She was such a kind woman."
You had two older brothers, right?
"Yes. Their names were Péter and Mihály. Péter was the oldest, and the strongest. Destined to become a field worker like my father. He could lift twice his own weight, and he was heavy!" János laughs. "He was strong, but he was kind, and definitely not as strict as my father. He would get in trouble for playing, eh, pranking the village kids. And his siblings. So many times I would be fooled by him! Mihály was a lot more serious, always focused on his schoolwork and trying to study. He would have been a great professor or doctor one day. Péter was mad at the communists for what they did to us, but Mihály was angry because he did not like their eh, um." He gestures vaguely. "Their, um. Ideas." He snaps his fingers. "Philosophy! He did not like their philosophy about government. Both of my brothers were very angry about the communists. When the revolution started they both wanted to go fight in the capital. My parents, of course, were very against this. They told them, no, you will get killed, and my brothers went anyway. Lilli wanted to wait it out, she said all things will be good again and that they should not go. They did not listen."
János lets out a heavy sigh. A few raindrops dot the window, and the wind has picked up, the flowers waving back and forth.
János freezes, seemingly unaware that he had let the name slip out.
It's okay. You don't have to talk about it.
"It is fine. She is part of... the story."
He places the empty coffee mug on the table, his paw subtly quivering.
"My sister Lilli was a very kind soul. She would always, eh, go out of her way to help my mother and the rest of us." He lets out another long sigh. He resumes again with a slight quake in his deep voice.
"When my brothers left, she told me that we had to leave as well... not to the capital. She said we had to go away from the country, find freedom from the Soviets. I was 13, and I was angry at the communists, angry at my parents for not letting me go and fight with my brothers in the capital. I started to be angry with my sister too. I thought I could fight the world all by myself. She said we should leave and then I was more angry. I thought, how could I leave my country and let the communists have it? But she was older, and she was in control. And so we left. My whole life, I had been wanting to leave because of all the bad things happening there. But never like this. Not without our parents, not when the rest of my family was in danger and fighting the threats against our country. Ironic, no? When we left I felt bad because we left our parents, and I wanted to go back and fight. I fought with Lilli the whole way. It was hard to get out of the country. We found soldiers, and we were so scared. We thought they were Soviets, but they were rebels. They were with us. They told us to go in the right direction so we would not enter more communist territory. My sister thought it was a sign, but I still wanted to go back. When we reached Austria we spent most of our forints to get on a train. We had a very bad argument. We got off and got back on so we could go back. My sister had finally had enough. Lilli was mad at me, but I did not care. I did not see that she only turned back because she loved me. She knew that it would be best to keep going. But I was going to go back to the capital and fight, you see. I thought, no one in the world can stop me! I thought I was invincible."
János looks down at his paws on the table. He is quiet for a long time.
"It was my fault she was killed."
When he continues after this, his voice is quiet and subdued.
"We tried to sneak back across the border across a bridge with many other refugees. Everyone else was going the other direction. They said to us, where are you going? The Soviets are here, you should be escaping. My sister said nothing but I could tell that she agreed with them. I still felt victorious. There were so many people crossing, they must have all been traveling together, and I could not make it onto the bridge yet. Lilli waited for me in the middle while everyone else crossed. And..."
János trails off and swallows heavily,
"And suddenly there was lots of noise and yelling. There were these big noises, crackling noises and metal noises. It was... it was a Russian border patrol."
He has to pause again to collect himself.
"They had begun firing on the people with their guns. People were falling down and screaming. Everyone tried to run into Austria but I was still looking for my sister on the bridge. And then I saw her." His volume steadily goes up and up. "She... she was lying, with a bullet in her neck, there... t-there was blood everywhere, and it was raining and it was everywhere, and I just ran with everyone else, I ran into Austria and I didn't even look back!"
You are startled by the sudden slamming of his fist on the table. The coffee mug is unbalanced and it tips onto the floor, shattering. His roar dies suddenly in his throat.
You both sit in silence as the rain pours down outside.
(Originally named Csíkos, but changed to János. If he's going to be a serious character, he can't be named "Stripey" lol)
Edit 6/2/17: Fixed verb tenses to be all in the present! I have a horrible habit of switching back and forth between past tense and present tense when I'm trying to write in the present, lol. It should read a lot more smoothly now. :)