People of the modern age may not even be able to imagine their life without running water and electricity, central heating, the Internet, a reliable family car and other luxuries. But the Pál family from Jánok lives as people used to live many decades ago. They are seeking the meaning of life on a family farm that goes back to nearly two hundred years. They live in a much simpler way than most of us do today. They are not doing it because they have to, but because they want to live like this.
“Hi, Robi. A very nice, hard-working family lives here on the outskirts of the village. The children are transported to school on horse, and the father also goes to work on horseback. Lots of hens, goats and geese are kept there. There is a nice big pasture around the house. They live on a farm. They would love to show their lives to you. If you come, put on boots. The road may be muddy. By the way, we will leave the car where the village ends. There is no asphalt road and not even gravel. Are you interested in this topic? We are looking forward to seeing you!” – A kind, friendly voice shared this information with me on the phone. And since every photojournalist would jump for an opportunity like that, I didn’t hesitate and visited the family.
When we left Jánok, the asphalt road changed to a gravel road, but eventually, it became a dusty dirt road. It was similar to the time when I used to ride my bike to the neighbouring Battyán to visit my grandparents near my hometown. After we turned onto the dirt road, my friends advised me that maybe it would be smarter to carry on on foot from there. But since I am a dedicated driver and photojournalist, I tormented my car up, all the way to the corner of the house on this narrow, muddy road by the creek. We stopped at the corner of their old house that was recently converted into a goat barn. A smiling family, silence, serenity and the heart-warming chirping of birds greeted us there. Pál Katona and his wife Anita Katona showed us around and told their story.
“We really like this way of life because it reflects the old life when people were still living completely differently. Nowadays, everything revolves around technology, computers, smart TVs and other luxuries, but we feel we are doing quite well without them. Of course, I would be lying if I said we don’t have a TV or a phone at home. We have a TV on which – if there is power in the battery – we can watch a pre-downloaded movie in the evenings, and we can make phone calls from the garden if we manage to find signal, but technology plays only a minimal part in our lives. It is mostly the family bond that keeps us here. I came here about ten years ago, but Anita, my wife, was born and raised here. Her grandparents and great-grandparents also settled here and that is why it is so difficult for us to let go of the place. The idea of gathering our cobblestones and embarking on a new life somewhere in the village or nearby Szepsi has already run through our heads several times, but the roots won’t let us. We feel that this place was destined for us. We have to be satisfied with our life and with what we have. And I’m saying this very honestly: we are happy where we are” – began Pál Katona, the owner of the Pál-farm.
CANDLELIGHT, LED LAMP
Their average weekday starts like anyone else‘s. They wake up in the morning, jumping out of bed to the sound of the rooster instead of the alarm clock. After feeding and watering the hens, the geese, the horses and the flock, Levente and Liliána, the younger members of the family, tie in the horses with the help of their father and set off to school in the back of their DIY-built cart. They go into Jánok, and from there the kids go to school by bus to Szepsi. Their father carries on with the cart to his workplace in Somodi. The scenario is the same in the afternoon, but of course, in the opposite direction. While a few years ago they cooked, read books and taught the children by candlelight, nowadays they are using a much more modern device: LED lights powered by tractor batteries. “We pull the water from the 13-foot-deep well, and this is also what the animals drink. The herd grazing outside is cared for by a battery-powered electric shepherd, and inside, the LED lamp and sometimes the TV also run on similar batteries. We are mostly inside during the cold winter months. The days are short, but there is always something to do from early dawn to late evening during the summer months. If we don’t talk, we read. My wife is a real animal maniac, she only keeps hens as a hobby, but I and the kids wouldn’t be able to live without them anymore. That is why – despite repeated considerations – we are still here. If we moved into town, we would probably go crazy. My parents live in Gömörhorka, in the village, and when they visit us, my mother is always afraid that some trouble may happen at night. But no one wants to hurt us here, in fact, we would rather be afraid of things happening in the city. If anyone dared to come here and cause us trouble, I would direct that person back where he came from with due attention and kindness. But before anyone ventures into our house, they would have to face a one-and-a-half-meter-long snake on our stairs at night. He didn’t hurt us, so neither do we hurt him.” –concluded Pál Katona.
The family is now planning to renovate the nearly sixty-year-old house. The old building next to the house that now houses the goats has a history of nearly two hundred years. They said they have no big needs. They aren’t poor but aren’t rich either. As long as they have something to put on the table each day and everyone is healthy, they have everything. “This is exactly what we need for our happiness,” – the parents concluded.
Olvasd el a cikket magyarul is: ITT
|central heating||központi fűtés|
|hard-working||dolgos, keményen dolgozó|
|to hesitate||tétovázni, habozni|
|to torment||erőltetni, kínozni|
|to convert into sg||valamivé átalakítani|
|to revolve around sg||valami körül keringeni|
|I would be lying if||hazudnék, ha…|
|family bond||családi kötődés|
|to embark on sg||belekezdeni valamibe|
|to tie in the horses||befogni a lovakat|
|to put sg on the table||az asztalra tenni valamit|