Marta K.’s List of Selected Transgressions

Marta K.’s List of Selected Transgressions
Photo by Liz Poage (copied from Flickr)

Photo by Liz Poage (copied from Flickr)

“…the poet Josef Kainar comes to mind (from the same generation as Blatny, and also long dead) who reacted to the scientist’s lecture by recounting an anecdote: A little boy takes his blind grandmother for a walk. They are walking down the street and from time to time, the boy says: ‘Careful, grandma, a root!’ The old lady thinks she’s on a forest path and jumps up a little. Passersby scold the little boy: ‘Boy, this is no way to treat your grandma!’ And the little boy: ‘She’s my grandma! I treat her as I please!’ And Kainar concluded: ‘That’s my relationship to my poetry.’”

Milan Kundera: What Is a Novelist? from Don’t Make Yourself at Home, My Friend (translated from Czech)


You must understand me. – Dad, leaving, Marta’s age: 5

Oh my God, look at those fat ankles of yours! – uncles, grandfather’s mountain house, Marta’s age: 6

You will be pretty when you’re pregnant. – Romany man on Marta hiding a volleyball underneath her T-shirt, street in front of grandfather’s mountain house, Marta’s age: 7/8

She’s not your daughter anymore! Don’t come here! – stepfather to Dad, home, Marta’s age: 8/9

Don’t talk back to me or else! – stepfather, home, Marta’s age: 8

Stop complaining – it’s fun! You just have to strain yourself a little. – stepfather, 6-hour hike in snow, Marta’s age: 8

Those titties should be wearing a bikini top already. – random middle aged man, Lake Balaton, Hungary, Marta’s age: 9/10

If you’re always hunched over like this, your breasts will sag when you’re older. – uncle, his place, Marta’s age: 10

You have an OK figure. Just be careful not to grow a big butt like your mother. – Dad, his place, Marta’s age: 11/12

You look awful. Did you get your period? – Dad, his living room, Marta’s age: 13

I liked you better with long hair. – Dad, his living room, Marta’s age: 14

Is your left breast larger than your right, like your mother’s? Let me feel. – Dad, his office, Marta’s age: 15

You don’t have to tilt your head so far back. I don’t want to see the inside of your nose when I’m kissing you. – boyfriend, on the street, Marta’s age: 15

We all saw your tits when you passed out. – friends, a house party, Marta’s age: 16

Sex is great. Just use a condom. But don’t do drugs. If you do drugs I will do nothing to help you. – Dad, his car, 17

My friends don’t find you attractive. – boyfriend, at a concert, Marta’s age: 19

I didn’t do anything that you didn’t want me to; you must understand that! – owner of Mahogany Hair Salon, Sydney, NSW, Marta’s age: 22

How much for an hour? – young Italian man, Croatia, Marta’s age: 22

Sorry, I didn’t know. But really, I’ll pay you in dollars. – young Italian man after Marta had slapped his face, Marta’s age: 22

Did you put on weight? / You put on weight! – Dad, his place, various occasions, Marta’s age: 23-25

What’s wrong with you? You’re over-sensitive. I’ll pay for you to see a therapist, how’s that? – Dad, lunch, restaurant, Marta’s age: 23

I know money’s important to you, so here. – stepfather, home visit, Marta’s age: 25

A summer look? – gynaecologist, exam room, Marta’s age: 29

I’m your father so of course I can say to you whatever I want! – Dad, his house, Marta’s age: 30

I swear I didn’t read your mail! I can just sense what you’re thinking about. – Marta’s boyfriend, home, Marta’s age: 31

How can you be so cold? You’re just like your mother. – Dad, café, Marta’s age: 32

Marta’s an alcoholic. She needs to be saved. – Marta’s ex-boyfriend to Mom, Dad and various friends after Marta started a new relationship, several months after break up, Marta’s age: 33

Marta’s therapist is a witch who manipulates Marta to break up with everyone who cares about her. – Marta’s boyfriend to Mom & Dad, after Marta started a new relationship, several months after break up, Marta’s age: 33


You are a very, very bad girl. – grandmothers 1 and 2, various occasions, Marta’s age, various: 4-

Be kind to your mother. It’s very hard for her now that she’s alone. – Mom’s friend, her apartment, Marta’s age: 6

If you keep behaving like this, nobody will ever like you. – Mom, Grandma1, various occasions, Marta’s age: 3-13

Stop looking in the mirror. It’s brains and education that count. – Mom, various occasions, Marta’s age: 5-

Stop crying, nobody’s interested in your self-pity. I’ve got more important things to deal with. – Mom, home, Marta’s age: 6-13

Wrap your ankles in plastic bags and exercise like that. Make those ankles slimmer. – Grandma1, on way to mountain house, at mountain house, at her house and various other places, Marta’s age: 7-11

You will apologize to your stepfather! And start writing a letter to your teacher! Tell her you made it up that he beats you. – Mom, Marta’s room, Marta’s age: 8

You should never have children. You’ll make a terrible mother. – Mom, home, Marta’s age, approx.: 8, 11, 18

You’re an egoist, just like your father! – Mom, home, various occasions, Marta’s age: 9-34

Your cousin is 5 pounds lighter than you. – step-grandmother, basement of her house, Marta’s age: 11-16

Don’t ever trust a girlfriend who compliments you. Women are horribly jealous. – Grandma2, her house, Marta’s age: 9, 15

Rub your nose like this: between your thumb and your index finger. You need to narrow it down. – Grandma1, on a bus, Marta’s age: 11, 13

It’s not my fault her brother’s dead. How much longer is she going to stay here? – stepmother to Dad, their home, Marta’s age: 11

Her brother’s death is no excuse for her to miss the last two weeks of school. – Marta’s math teacher to Marta’s classmates, school, Marta’s age: 11

You would be way prettier if your eyes were blue. – Marta’s classmate & friend, ice-skating rink, Marta’s age: 13/14

Marta’s in love with you! – Marta’s BFF’s older sister to Marta’s (older) object of desire, Marta’s age: 14

I need a break from you. – Mom, home, Marta’s age: 14/15

You’re not completely stupid, you’re just very lazy. Like your father. – Mom, home, Marta’s age: 15

Help, Jesus, help! You’ve shaved your head to kill me! – Grandma2, doorway of her apartment, Marta’s age: 16

Don’t eat so much! You’re not alone here! – Mom, home, Marta’s age: puberty

You young people are disgustingly sexual. I’m proud to have been frigid all my life. – Grandma2, her house, Marta’s age: 16

When I got married, my husband immediately gave me STD. – step-grandmother, her kitchen, Marta’s age: 16

Why didn’t you use protection? How could you have done this to me?! – Mom, home, Marta’s age: 17

Marta’s only friends with you because you’re less pretty than she is. – graphic-design professor to Marta’s girlfriend & classmate, Sydney, NSW, Marta’s age: 22

I feel that now that you’re in Australia, our relationship got so much better. – Mom, phone call, Marta’s age: 22

When you’re not around, I only say nice things about you. – Mom, walk after visiting home, Marta’s age: 24

But you’ve had such a happy childhood! – Dad’s 3rd wife, their house, Marta’s age: 25/26

Just think of the poor people in Africa. You wouldn’t be depressed if you didn’t have so much time to focus on yourself. – Mom, email, Marta’s age: 30

Your stepdad and I have tried to raise you well. But your genes are impossible. – Mom, café, Marta’s age: 33

You don’t want any children? You’re getting old, you know. – gynaecologist, exam room, Marta’s age: 35


Maria (1977) is a Czechoslovakia-born writer and journalist dividing her time between Bratislava and NYC. Her short-stories collection Lu & Mira was published in 2011 by KK Bagala and her novel, Tichy rezim - The Silent Mode - came out in November 2013 (publisher: drewo & srd). Her fiction has been featured in various magazines, e.g. 3:AM, Kinglux, Bushwick Daily, Anderbo, The Prague Revue, Inspire, EVA, SME Daily, Pravda.  She has translated David Foster Wallace's This Is Water into Slovak (the book was published in August 2013 in Slovakia). She contributes to various Slovak periodicals on a regular basis and also co-edits the arts&culture revue VLNA.

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