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Sandra Gugic: Astronauten. [Astronauts]

Excerpt  de    en    fr    span    cz


She stares out the window, her body tense. The camera lies on her lap, but she doesn’t touch it, although the panorama is different to usual. We have left the city. To the right and left the street is lined by trees and fields, the landscape remains flat, an apparently endless straight line, which after a while changes into a piece of woodland. I could press down hard on the pedal, accelerate even more, always straight ahead, then there is the idea, like an idée fixé, that sooner or later we will end up at the point we started from anyway. The light accelerates with us, flickers between the rows of trees, mixing in orange-red patches between the shades of green. Every second contains the possibility of breaking the silence, but where to begin. Things, sentences, days have gone missing, only to reappear minutes, hours, days later, in places I would never have expected.
Now she begins to speak and her gaze follows the yellow line of the lane, which vanishes into the line of the horizon. When she tells her story, it is as if she is going far away, withdrawing into the long blurred pupil of her left eye. Her long, narrow fingers wander, lost in thought, up and down her lower arm, across the geometry of the bright, straight lines of scars, which remind me of the lines that prisoners scratch into the walls of their cells, while her story takes us into a garden: she is perhaps eight years old, carrying big, heavy clay pots up out of the cellar, in order to fill them with earth and then place the individual worms that she had dug out from the garden beforehand into the earth in the clay pots. With great effort, the worms attempt to dig their way down bit by bit, into the earth that has been patted tight by her, until they cannot proceed any further, because the earth is too hard. She describes how, in this way, the worms got stuck, half in the earth and half on its surface, and dried out in the sun, as she watched. She begins to laugh, as she continues to tell the story of how they repeatedly attempted to succeed, because they could not understand or did not want to understand that the earth was too hard for them. She tells how she cried over the dead worms in her childish despair. She laughs more fiercely when I say that it is perhaps the moment of becoming a human being, when one wants to have something, to own something, for oneself alone. “Becoming a human being!” Her laughter makes me laugh too. “Becoming a human being!” she repeats, “You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about!”
In the next moment she points excitedly at something ahead. At the edge of the traffic lane, beyond the yellow line of the hard shoulder, is an animal, standing there motionless, ducking down for a moment as we pass, like a sprinter waiting for the starting pistol. We are driving too fast to recognise what it is, perhaps a cat. In the rear-view mirror I can still see how, right behind us, the animal flits across the traffic lane between the two following vehicles. Mara turns round, I turn my eyes back to the road again, and then something thrusts its way in between, an image jackknifed, torn out of context, a scene from a black-and-white film, the title of which I just can’t remember. One which says: Be a human being. You know what that means?

(pp. 84 – 85)
© Munich: C. H. Beck Verlag, 2015

Translation by Peter Waugh

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