Michal Čagánek – Czech poet, writer and songwriter 

My life is inextricably linked with Moravian Slovakia, where I grew up and where I return to more often, to discover the new magic of this picturesque region of the White Carpathians. I worked as a policeman and as a teacher in kindergarten, sold books and bio-products and have also tried a job in the newspapers and film. Now I focus mostly on  creative work. I write books, compose music, take photos, paint, dance and sing, relax and contemplate in the shade under the trees.
Certainly we have already met. And I would like to meet with you again through some of my books and cultural programs that I organize, creative workshops called the Source of Inspiration or just because the right moment has arrived…

Little Princess

novel, translation Viktor Horák, language revision Pearl Harris

At first sight, Blanka is just an ordinary little girl, like thousands of others in Prague. But who is Blanka really? Did she actually come to Earth from Nauhir, a planet she speaks about so enthusiastically?

You will find the answers within this book, which the five-year-old girl created for you with the aid of her adult friends.


You can postpone your trip to the well until tomorrow,
but then count on a much greater thirst to be quenched

They call me Blanka and congratulated me on my fourth birthday in the spring. Now it is autumn, the trees are bearing their fruit. Simply hold an apple or a ripe plum in your hand to know that you are really here, that eternity lasts forever and takes on countless forms.

In the middle of summer, I found that I could read. I was sitting in the park beneath a tree, the old chestnut which treats me kindly with its shade. I like to lean against its trunk. There is a hollow in the trunk one can get into if you like and if you are small enough to fit, as I am.

That day I did not go into the tree. I did not breathe in the scent of decaying wood covered in cobwebs, like the walls of an old castle. I did not peel off a bit of bark and hold it in my hand until it disintegrated into dust to be blown away by the wind.

I sat beneath the tree and the wind played with my hair. I was reading. From the pictures and from what I’d heard so many times from my Mum’s lips, while she was still here with us and smiling at the world. Beautiful gentle Mother’s mouth which is so lovely to touch.

That day she was not with me. Only the trees were whispering at the wind. The wind was whispering. The old chestnut was whispering. I was also whispering what was in my memory.

The story of the Little Prince who left his planet and arrived on the Earth. There was a desert on the Earth. In the desert there was a well from which it was possible to drink when he felt thirsty. However, he almost never drank from it, because it was so small and the desert was all around him.

I read this in the book. From looking at the pictures and from memory. I forgot about everything else. About the trees and the wind. About Mum’s mouth and a little girl called Blanka.

Then suddenly—I could read. It did not surprise me. I realised that I could do it and I could have already done this a long time ago.

I read the whole book and started to read it again. I read aloud and what I was reading was alive and it was the Truth.

Just like every tree is true and every flower, because it grows from water and light and does not desire anything other than to be a flower which grows, blossoms and withers.

It was summer. The leaves on the trees were green. It was the holidays and Mum was healthy. We were together every day. Those were exciting days filled with joy which we did not have to seek anywhere else. Because joy was all around us.

Some people took us for fools, the real world is said to be a world of sadness and sorrow. Of course they may be right. They just view the world through the eyes of their own experience. Just like someone who has only ever tasted a lemon in his life believes that all fruit is sour.

We were fools especially about our Dad and his world full of violence. Since the assault he almost never leaves home. Only when he does not have enough to drink at home. Only when he drinks is he sometimes able to smile. At least for a little while all the pain is gone and he is home again.

Our old good Dad. He has his job that he is proud of. He would do anything in the world for our family. For his wife, for Matthew who is already a big boy. And he is still growing.

„Daddy, when I grow up, I’m going to be a policeman like you!“ he says proudly, with Dad’s police cap on his head. Dad smiles and nobody doubts Matthew.

This was before I was born. And a little while afterwards. Then, one day, my Dad went shopping in the supermarket down the street where we live. Just for a few things, saying that he would be right back. He returned several hours later. Without the items and covered in blood.

While he was shopping, someone had pulled out a gun.

The shop assistant froze. But my Dad moved.

There was a loud bang, shouts were heard. Two bodies slumped to the ground.

He certainly got it good and proper from Dad.

Later that day he was accused of assault and of being a public danger. Not the one with the gun, but my Dad.

Matthew no longer wants to be a policeman. His greatest joy is when he can push me or pull my hair. When my Mum was with us, he had to watch out not to push me in her presence, because Mummy would get angry and he was punished by not being allowed to use the computer the whole evening.

If I didn’t know Daddy and Matthew, I could easily think they are bad. That they don’t like me. That they perhaps want to hurt me. But it’s not like that. They just forget, but it happens.

One who can never forget is Griz-Li. My brother from the planet of Nauhir who took on the appearance of a guinea pig so that he could be with me on Earth.

Wherever I go, he accompanies me. To the hospital to see my Mum, to the park and to the kindergarten.

They do not welcome us everywhere with open arms. The little girl and her companion have got used to it.

Once we had to leave the church. It was a beautiful sunny day, but inside, there was only a little dim light from a candle. Everything smelled of decay. The inside of the old chestnut has a similar aroma when I get into it to watch the world from inside. However, it is alive.

I looked at the statues, paintings, human faces and I never saw any smiles. Not a single reminder of the time when people did not close themselves in with walls and roofs, but all lived together with the wind, trees and flowers. And God was everywhere. No one had to go anywhere to be closer to Him.

The memory of home brought tears to my eyes. Had everybody forgotten?

Suddenly a bird flew into the church. A small swallow had built a nest high up beneath the arch of the church. I started to laugh. After all, life had found the way!

Several people looked at me. Especially one lady who was very sad and lonely did not enjoy my laughter at all. She yelled that a church is not a pigeon loft, although I was not holding a pigeon but a cavy in my arms. She listed all her credits in global welfare and an entire list of words that are not commonly used in front of little girls. She swore never to enter the church again unless someone immediately punished my audacity.

Nobody will ever learn what kind of punishment she had in mind, because she suddenly started crying. Nobody was surprised.

I still kept smiling, but at the same time, I felt sorry for that lady. I took her hand and said: „Just cry. After the rain, there is a blue sky.“

I usually also have problems in the department store that is known by the same name that people have learned to call the planet Earth–The World–and where I am used to going to read. All because I am a little girl, on top of it, one who is holding a guinea pig under her jacket, which could also possibly be a stolen book. Adults have vivid imaginations.

When I went there with my Mum, everything was all right. No one looked askance at a girl. No one wondered what she was doing there. No one asked her any questions.

But Mum is not here.

Since summer she has been lying in hospital while Daddy tries to forget about his disappointment on the opposite side of the town. Because he is not successful, he works off his anger on a small girl. Only she has mercy on him. Only she tells him nice things. Only she loves him, and that is not permitted.

Matthew, whom everyone calls Matt, has his computer. He does not notice a girl. He would notice her if she screamed and cried when he beat her or pulled her hair, but it does not even occur to her to do so. It is something else, however, when he lifts his hand to Griz-Li.

For this reason, I prefer not to take him home with me. There are enough safe shelters in the park.

Matt thinks he is older than me, as he was born a little earlier. He is big, I am small, he is a boy, I am a girl, it gives him the right to be rude.

The bigger one is the one who is able to bow his head to the smaller one. The stronger one is the one who helps the other.

When I was younger, I used to go to a kindergarten. I don’t go any more. Because of Griz-Li, but mainly because of Miss Renata who was supposed to teach us. But she taught us nothing. Only to have everything neatly arranged. To do what we didn’t want to do. Not to enjoy anything too loudly and to cry only in the toilet, where nobody could see us.

Initially she did not mind Griz-Li. He had his small house in the corner, lined with shavings from someone’s dad, a carpenter. Anyone could come and play with him. Then she found out that the children liked him. That he was never in his house because he was being passed around from arm to arm. Whereas she had not been hugged for ages.

She said that Griz-Li was a wild animal, he might even be ill. That he could bite somebody.

I told her that the World did not know a more peaceful creature. That she herself would sooner bite someone.

Several children laughed. Renata yelled.

„Get out right now! Both of you!“

So we left. From the window, children’s hands beckoned to us like the palms of survivors drifting off in a boat on the surface of the ocean.

Fortunately, no one can forbid us from playing in the park or children’s playgrounds. No one can ban us from the trees and grass, climbing frames or sandpits. If I have to climb something, I prefer a tree, rather than a construction of smooth beams. A flexible branch provides the same experience as a swing.

But a children’s playground has one advantage after all, it is full of children. We go there because of them, not because of the attractions that were invented by adults who have forgotten how to play.

Griz-Li enjoys his great popularity. It is hard to imagine such an animal. Black, white and rust-coloured hair sticking out in all directions and almost covering his tiny, but nimble legs. An obstinate forelock separating big ears. His eyes are black, the snout is round with a permanently smiling mouth. The tail got lost somewhere.

This all gives rise to conjectures about what kind of animal he actually is. There are some suggestions, from a hamster to a puppy.

„And couldn’t he be a guinea pig?“ I try to give a hint to the children.

„He could be! – Yes maybe! – He could be a guinea pig!“ the children shout together.

„But why is he so spiky?“

„Oh, can I comb his hair?“ a few girls offer, while a freckled boy would like to show his truck to Griz-Li.

All the children see him, as well as other children in other playgrounds, as well as even several mothers.

It is a pity that more children do not come to The World department store. I could easily slip in among them. They are there, but only in the Children’s Corner. They are only allowed to play there. But without any pets and with toys that are not toys at all because they do not resemble anything that a human being really likes to do.

There is no grass or round pebbles that are usually found on a riverbank and which skim across the water so beautifully when one plays ducks and drakes. There is no dandelion fluff which is so easy to blow away. Still moist conkers are not lying about anywhere. There is not a single leaf with a colourful autumn message. Instead of a window, the flickering television repeats the same fairytale over and over again.

I have to control myself with difficulty not to start crying. But I can not cry, they will immediately think I am lost.

I do not go there to play, I am not interested in fairytales. My goal is to read.

For a little girl, it is very difficult to get close to what she is interested in. Either she has short arms or everybody asks her what she wants. She is not allowed to be alone in a department store, calmly sitting, stroking her guinea pig, while reading at the same time.

I have never creased a single page, not a single hair of my beloved Griz-Li has been left on the floor, but nevertheless, every time something goes wrong.

„May I help you, Madam?“

I begin to laugh. So far nobody has spoken in formal terms to a little girl called Blanka, never until this moment. Let alone a dignified gentleman in a suit, in addition with a name tag on his lapel and a wire in his ear.

„Yes, Robert. Certainly,“ I smile, amused.

Robert is not going to smile. On the contrary, he looks extremely serious. More than serious. It seems as if he was born serious. However, we both know this is not true.

„Please pass me the book, The Golden Age of Atlantis. There on the top. Can you see it?“

„Do you want to buy it?“

„Oh, Robert,“ I can’t contain my laughter. „You wouldn’t want to take money from a little girl! If you like, you can buy the book for me, but it’s fine if you can just pass it to me.“

If the man’s face was serious until that moment, now it completely freezes. He takes a transmitter out of his pocket and starts speaking into it. He probably can not reach the book himself.

After a while, a reinforcement arrives. A gigantic guy in the same, but much larger, suit, also with a name tag and a wire in his ear. He is easily able to reach the book, but instead he starts to ask me about my Mum.

„Is she somewhere here?“

„No, but that would be lovely!“ I cry out in excitement. „But she’s been in hospital since summer already. She’s still just lying there, without moving at all.“

The bigger one looks at the smaller one and starts to speak into the transmitter. I am sure he is calling for a reinforcement and that another gentleman in a suit will arrive and he will be exactly thirty metres tall. He will easily lift me off the ground and tear me to pieces as my Dad once promised to do. All this, just because I want to learn something about Atlantis, which is forbidden to little girls.

Mark arrives. Without a suit or a name tag. He wears a casual shirt and a smile on his face.

„Everything’s all right,“ he beckons to the two giants. They immediately look half as big, finally vanishing altogether.

„So you are the young reader?“ Mark asks. His eyes are shining.

„And you are probably the ruler of the whole Universe, if those two men obey you!“

„Sort of.“

„But you shouldn’t have told them that everything is all right. What’s all right about adults intimidating a little girl?“

„That’s true,“ Mark admits. His face crumples.

„But please don’t punish them,“ I quickly add, „they don’t mean it badly, they have just forgotten. It happens.“

Mark starts to laugh, not like adults do – totally naturally. Like the inhabitants of the planet Nauhir laugh and like children laugh. This decides her.

„I’m also writing a book,“ she says.

„You don’t say! And what’s it about?“

„About what it’s like being a little girl who everyone laughs at.“

„But I didn’t laugh at you.“

„I know. But tell me, how come you haven’t forgotten?“

„I also forget,“ Mark sighs. „Unfortunately too often. Luckily, there are little girls in the world who remind people that legends do not lie.“

„And guinea pigs as well,“ I say, handing him my friend.

„And guinea pigs,“ says Mark, stroking Griz-Li.

„Welcome to the Earth!“

read the whole book HERE 

Aphorisms, translation Viktor Horák, language revision Pearl Harris

Even your Guardian Angel has his Guardian Angel

People fall not because they don’t have wings
but because they can’t bring themselves to admit
they can fly

Heaven is not only alive through the stars

Never be ashamed of expressing your desire
there may be someone  near who can help fulfil it

The ocean too began from a single drop

Whatever I do is always less
than a child’s kiss

Michal Čagánek, email: michalcag@seznam.cz,
tel: +420 775 642 390