Yevgeni Grishkovetz, Chaim Potok, Mo Yan, Frederik Hetmann, Shahrnush Parsipur, Emmy Hennings
Uit:How I Ate the Dog
“They got out at every station and walked around the platform with an old cassette player, glancing to the sides, meaning – Are they looking at us or not? Aha…they’re looking! Very good! I was surprised at the time by how their sailor hats stayed on the back of their heads, it was obvious that they should have fallen off, but they stayed on, all the same…. Without any sense of idiotic metaphor, they hung like haloes…. I only found out later, how they stayed on… sailor hats. And that there’s no secret, they simply stay on, and that’s it.
The sailors were entertaining…. We came up to them with questions about how it is, and they gladly told us how…: “Well, we went through La Pérouse Strait, then we went to Cam Ranh, we stopped there…, then we went to New Zealand and they didn’t let us come ashore, but in Australia they let us come ashore, but only the officers went and…”
And I was thinking: “Geeeeee whiz… After all I studied English in school… Why?” Well, there were countries where they speak this language, there was Europe, well somewhere there… Paris, London, you know, Amsterdam, there were those, and leave it at all that. What’s it to me? They sometimes vaguely disturbed you in that they nevertheless kind of existed…, but they didn’t draw out any concrete desire. The world was huge, like in a book….
And these sailors had been, my God, in Australia, New Zealand…. And the same awaits me, just put me in that same uniform…. And little by little, already quickly, the train takes us to Vladivostok, and there is still a little left – and some sort of sea, some sort of countries…. Reluctance!!!! Because even though I didn’t know anything concrete, I suspected that, well, of course, it wasn’t quite that simple, Australia, New Zealand, and still some other place like that, the essential of what I didn’t want to know, of what I was afraid, of what I was very afraid and what would very soon come up… without fail….“
Yevgeni Grishkovetz (Kemerovo, 17 februari 1969)
Uit: The Chosen
“Every Orthodox Jew sent his male children to a yeshiva, a Jewish parochial school, where they studied from eight or nine in the morning to four or five in the evening. On Fridays the students were let out at about one o’clock to prepare for the Shabbat. Jewish education was compulsory for the Orthodox, and because this was America and not Europe, English education was compulsory as well–so each student carried a double burden: Hebrew studies in the mornings and English studies in the afternoons. The test of intellectual excellence, however, had been reduced by tradition and unvoiced unanimity to a single area of study: Talmud. Virtuosity in Talmud was the achievement most sought after by every student of a yeshiva, for it was the automatic guarantee of a reputation for brilliance.
Danny attended the small yeshiva established by his father. Outside of the Williamsburg area, in Crown Heights, I attended the yeshiva in which my father taught. This latter yeshiva was somewhat looked down upon by the students of other Jewish parochial schools of Brooklyn: it offered more English subjects than the required minimum, and it taught its Jewish subjects in Hebrew rather than Yiddish. Most of the students were children of immigrant Jews who preferred to regard themselves as having been emancipated from the fenced-off ghetto mentality typical of the other Jewish parochial schools in Brooklyn.
Danny and I probably would never have met–or we would have met under altogether different circumstances–had it not been for America’s entry into the Second World War and the desire this bred on the part of some English teachers in the Jewish parochial schools to show the gentile world that yeshiva students were as physically fit, despite their long hours of study, as any other American student. They went about proving this by organizing the Jewish parochial schools in and around our area into competitive leagues, and once every two weeks the schools would compete against one another in a variety of sports. I became a member of my school’s varsity softball team.”
Chaim Potok (17 februari 1929 – 23 juli 2002)
Uit: Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh (Vertaald door Howard Goldbaltt)
“A pair of police cars stormed up to the compound, sirens blaring. This threw such a scare into Ding Shikou, whose heart was racing, that all he could think of was getting the hell out of there; too bad he couldn't get his legs to follow orders. Finding it impossible to drive through the gate, the police parked their cars outside the compound and poured out of the cars; there were seven of them in all — four fat ones and three skinny ones. Armed with batons, handcuffs, walkie-talkies, pistols, bullets, tear gas, and a battery-powered bullhorn, the seven cops took a few unhurried steps, then stopped just outside the gate to form a cordon, as if to seal off the factory gate as an escape route. A closer look showed that they probably weren't going to seal off the factory, after all. One of the cops, who was getting along in years, raised the bullhorn to his mouth and ordered the workers to disperse, which they did. Like a wolf exposed in the field when sorghum stalks are cut down, the assistant manager for supply and marketing popped into view. He was sprawled on the ground, facedown, protecting his head with his hands, his rear end sticking up in the air, looking like a frightened ostrich. The cop handed his bullhorn to the man beside him and walked up to the cowering assistant manager; he reached down and took hold of the man's collar with his thumb and two fingers, as if to lift him to his feet, but the assistant manager looked as though he was trying to dig a hole for himself. His suit coat separated itself from him, forming a little tent. Now Ding could hear what he was shouting:
“Don't blame me, good people. I've just returned from Hainan Island, and I don't know a thing. You can't blame me for this….”
Without letting go of the man's coat, the policeman nudged his leg with the tip of his shoe. “Get up,” he said, “right now!”
The assistant manager got to his feet, and when he saw that the person he'd gotten up for was a policeman, his phlegm-splattered face suddenly became the color of a dirt roadway. His legs buckled, and the only reason he didn't crumple to the ground again was that the policeman was still holding him by the collar.”
Mo Yan (Gaomi, 17 februari 1955)
Uit: Geräusch der Grille - Geräusch des Geldes
„Nun, da der weiße Mann die Grille sehen konnte, fiel auch ihm das Geräusch auf, das sie von sich gab.
Als sie weitergegangen waren, sagte der Weiße nach einer Weile zu seinem Freund, dem Indianer: „Natürlich hast du die Grille hören können. Dein Gehör ist eben besser geschult als meines. Indianer können besser hören als Weiße."
Der Indianer lächelte, schüttelte den Kopf und erwiderte: „Da täuschst du dich, mein Freund. Das Gehör eines Indianers ist nicht besser und nicht schlechter als das eines weißen Mannes. Pass auf, ich will es dir beweisen!"
Er griff in die Tasche, holte ein 50-Cent-Stück hervor und warf es auf das Pflaster. Es klimperte auf dem Asphalt und die Leute, die mehrere Meter von dem weißen und dem roten Mann entfernt gingen, wurden auf das Geräusch aufmerksam und sahen sich um. Endlich hob einer das Geldstück auf, steckte es ein und ging seines Weges. „Siehst du", sagte der Indianer zu seinem Freund, „das Geräusch, das das 50-Cent-Stück gemacht hat, war nicht lauter als das der Grille, und doch hörten es viele der weißen Männer und drehten sich danach um, während das Geräusch der Grille niemand hörte außer mir. Der Grund dafür liegt nicht darin, dass das Gehör der
Indianer besser ist. Der Grund liegt darin, dass wir alle stets das gut hören, worauf wir zu achten gewohnt sind."
Frederik Hetmann (17 februari 1934 – 1 juni 2006)
Uit: Touba and the Meaning of Night (Vertaald door Kamran Talattof and Havva Houshmand)
“He put his finger back on the ground and the ant climbed down and joined the line of its friends. It seemed as though the ant was telling them something. Every once in a while it would stop in front of one of the other ants and move its antennae in response to the other one's, and then they parted quickly. Haji smiled. Possibly they were informing each other about a pink moving wall. The ant did not have an image of Haji Adib, even if it could think. But somehow, fearfully, it understood him.
Haji Adib went to look at the small hill the ants had made. He thought, "What about dust? Does dust think?" For the earth turned, and everything on it turned with it. And each individual, minute item was capable of thought, and also rotated, just as the larger principle did, the earth itself. Even a tree was therefore a whole, and would have its own kind of treelike thought process. And its parts, perhaps each in its own wholeness, would think separately, so that the parts which formed the roots and descended into the depths of the earth had the tendency to grow downward, and the parts that were branches had the desire to ascend, parts and whole alike.
Haji Adib knew he did not have to worry about the thought process of dust particles. Some of the laws of this rotating living being were clear. If at the end of February one planted the proper seeds, by mid-spring one would have a garden full of colored pansies. Pansies also had their own thought, and so did water and dust. All together, they created an exhilarating combination. He thought, to possess this much knowledge was enough for now.”
Shahrnush Parsipur (Teheran, 17 februari 1946)
Meine tiefsten Trunkenheiten sind am frühen Morg
Wenn ich die Reise der Nacht vollendet.
Ich erwacht: und bin: immer wo anders gelandet.
Kann nicht sagen, was es ist. dass meine Sehnsucht
Sich breitet über das Land.
O Welt. die ich suche, fühlst du nicht:
Über dir meine hungernden Augen?
Klopfte mein Herz vor deiner Tür,
Vor deinem Iiebeumschleierten Hause?
Wohnst du so hoch. kleine Welt?
Ich fliege dir zu.
“Wohnst du so tief, kleine Welt?
Ich falle dir zu.
Wo du auch sein magst:
Einmal trete ich über deine Schwelle.
Dann bin ich bei dir und frage dich zärtlich:
Bist du die Heimat? Nimmst du mich auf?
Ich bin das Kind mit suchendem Gesicht,
Das sich verlor in Deines Mantels Weiten.
Ich lächle Deines Wesens Dunkelheiten,
So eingehüllt in Dir sag ich vom Licht.
Ich bin die kleine Unscheinbare,
Die sich verirrt in Gassen fand,
Die sich verlor ins Wunderbare,
In Dir, Du Lied der jungen Jahre,
Das stets in meiner Seele stand.
Lass ruhen mich in Harfendämmerungen
Und träumen Deinen schönsten Stern,
Und wenn das letzte Licht versungen,
Dann sterb ich gern.
Emmy Hennings (17 februari 1885 – 10 augustus 1948)
Hennings als marionet in de show Flight Out of Time door Paulina Olowska, Pittsburgh, 2014