Satzwende: Tanja Maljartschuk (1/2) [EN]

Roter Luftballon
© Blake Cheek on Unsplash

Stories are scars

There is so much pain that I don't even want to share it. Let it be all mine, just mine. My back is like a washboard, my head like a balloon that has had too much gas pumped into it. I would love to fly away like a red balloon. Then nobody would hold me (Elfriede Gerstl).

There was a lady who always dreamed of having flown away. Her name was Lida. During the Second World War, one of her legs became twenty centimetres shorter after an explosion and a long operation. And yet, this disability was the least of what Lida had suffered in and through the war. All of a sudden, she became old, an orphaned, destitute 17-year-old girl, and she remained old for the rest of her life, a life full of the hardest and dirtiest work. When I turned 17 myself, she told me: Every night, I dream of a room with an electric meat grinder in the middle of it. It is huge and grinds everything alive, there is a terrible noise around the grinder. I fly up to the ceiling and out through the small window. Hooray! Saved! But the next moment, I see that I'm in the same room, with the same meat grinder in the middle. Terrified, I fly out through the window again and end up in another identical room with an identical grinder, and then in yet another, yet another... As you can see, old Lida used to say at the end, to be free, it is not enough to be able to fly.

“As you can see, to be free, it is not enough to be able to fly.“

At some point, she did make it, her poor house is now empty. If I can still be happy, it is for those who no longer have to experience another war, whose flight to the ceiling has ended peacefully. Their pain no longer accumulates, while the old reserves become scars and turn into stories. We tell them to each other over and over again, sometimes as tragedies, sometimes as fairy tales, and don't understand them. 

My pain too will one day ...

Translation: Kevin Behrens

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Portrait Tanja Maljartschuk
© George Eberle

Tanja Maljartschuk

was born in 1983 in Ivano-Frankivsk in the Ukraine, studied philology at the University of Ivano-Frankivsk and, after completing her studies, worked as a journalist in Kiev. Her collection of short stories, Neunprozentiger Haushaltsessig, was published in German in 2009, her novel Biografie eines zufälligen Wunders was published in 2013, Von Hasen und anderen Europäern in 2014, and her novel Blauwal der Erinnerung in 2019. In 2018, Tanja Maljartschuk received the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. The author writes regular columns and lives in Vienna.


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