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

© Rike Oehlerking

Scars are stories

Every story has its own silence (Aglaja Veteranyi). What do the stories of our body remain silent about? After all, everything that happens to our bodies in the course of our lives leaves stories behind. Burns, bumps, reddenings, front teeth knocked out on a merry-go-around at the age of nine... Someone broke their left arm and screamed so loudly that the whole town rushed over. It was nice to be heard for the first time, wasn't it? One woman has hair on her nose, while the other has none on her head. Stress, they both say. Or also: bacteria, hormones, curse, coincidence, I-don't-know. Our body is a library of unwritten novels.
 

My grandfather had a crooked, lifeless index finger. Grandfather was a passionate storyteller and that is said to have been the reason for his deformity. Allegedly, in the 1950s, he was so enthusiastic about telling a story about a murdered kolkhoz chairman that he didn't notice the chaff cutter chopping off his finger along with the grass. My grandfather only interrupted himself when the finger rolled into the basket with nettles. He picked up the stub, wiped it off, placed it on the wound and wrapped his hand with a dirty handkerchief. He then calmly finished his statement to the KGB investigators who had just come to arrest him, explaining that it was not he who had killed the kolkhoz chairman, but the hares that had multiplied fiendishly in the surrounding woods. 

After that, they left the wacky hick alone, while a few neighboring families were deported to Siberia in a few hours without trial.

I almost lost my index finger too. Inspired by the beauty of spin-drying, I put it in the centrifuge of our washing machine at the age of 6. Whether there is a connection between these two stories and the fingers is still unknown.

Translation: Kevin Behrens


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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