Uit: The Sheltering Sky
“He awoke, opened his eyes. The room meant very little to him; he was too deeply immersed in the non-being from which he had just come. If he had not the energy to ascertain his position in time and space, he also lacked the desire. He was somewhere, he had come back through vast regions from nowhere; there was the certitude of an infinite sadness at the core of his consciousness, but the sadness was reassuring, because it alone was familiar. He needed no further consolation. In utter comfort, utter relaxation he lay absolutely still for a while, and then sank back into one of the light momentary sleeps that occur after a long, profound one. Suddenly he opened his eyes again and looked at the watch on his wrist. It was purely a reflex action, for when he saw the time he was only confused. He sat up, gazed around the tawdry room, put his hand to his forehead, and sighing deeply, fell back onto the bed. But now he was awake; in another few seconds he knew where he was, he knew that the time was late afternoon, and that he had been sleeping since lunch. In the next room he could hear his wife stepping about in her mules on the smooth tile floor, and this sound now comforted him, since he had reached another level of consciousness where the mere certitude of being alive was not sufficient. But how difficult it was to accept the high, narrow room with its beamed ceiling, the huge apathetic designs stenciled in indifferent colors around the walls, the closed window of red and orange glass. He yawned: there was no air in the room. Later he would climb down from the high bed and fling the window open, and at that moment he would remember his dream. For although he could not recall a detail of it, he knew he had dreamed. On the other side of the window there would be air, the roofs, the town, the sea. The evening wind would cool his face as he stood looking, and at that moment the dream would be there. Now he only could lie as he was, breathing slowly, almost ready to fall asleep again, paralyzed in the airless room, not waiting for twilight but staying as he was until it should come.
On the terrace of the Café d´Eckmühl-Noiseux a few Arabs sat drinking mineral water; only their fezzes of varying shades of red distinguished them from the rest of the population of the port. Their European clothes were worn and gray; it would have been hard to tell what the cut of any garment had been originally. The nearly naked shoe-shine boys squatted on their boxes looking down at the pavement, without the energy to wave away the flies that crawled over their faces. Inside the café the air was cooler but without movement, and it smelled of stale wine and urine.
At the table in the darkest corner sat three Americans: two young men and a girl. They conversed quietly, and in the manner of people who have all the time in the world for everything. One of the men, the thin one with a slightly wry, distraught face, was folding up some large multicolored maps he had spread out on the table a moment ago. His wife watched the meticulous movements he made with amusement and exasperation; maps bored her, and he was always consulting them. Even during the short periods when their lives were stationary, which had been few enough since their marriage twelve years ago, he had only to see a map to begin studying it passionately, and then, often as not, he would begin to plan some new, impossible trip which sometimes eventually became a reality. He did not think of himself as a tourist; he was a traveler. “
Paul Bowles (30 december 1910 – 18 november 1999)
“He stopped; for there shuffled round the corner, from the roaring Motee Bazar,16 such a man as Kim, who thought he knew al
l castes, had never seen. He was nearly six feet high, dressed in fold upon fold of dingy stuff like horse-blanketing, and not one fold of it could Kim refer to any known trade or profession. At his belt hung a long open-work iron pencase and a wooden rosary such as holy men wear. On his head was a gigantic sort of tam-o’-shanter. His face was yellow and wrinkled, like that of Fook Shing, the Chinese bootmaker in the bazar. His eyes turned up at the corners and looked like little slits of onyx.
“Who is that?” said Kim to his companions.
“Perhaps it is a man,” said Abdullah, finger in mouth, staring.
“Without doubt,” returned Kim; “but he is no man of India that I have ever seen.”
“A priest, perhaps,” said Chota Lal, spying the rosary. “See! He goes into the Wonder House!”
“Nay, nay,” said the policeman, shaking his head. “I do not understand your talk.” The constable spoke Punjabi. “Oh, The Friend of all the World, what does he say?”
“Send him hither,” said Kim, dropping from Zam-Zammah, flourishing his bare heels. “He is a foreigner, and thou art a buffalo.”
The man turned helplessly and drifted towards the boys. He was old, and his woollen gaberdine still reeked of the stinking artemisia of the mountain passes.
“O Children, what is that big house?” he said in very fair Urdu.
“The Ajaib-Gher, the Wonder House!” Kim gave him no title—such as Lala or Mian. He could not divine the man’s creed.
“Ah! The Wonder House! Can any enter?”
“It is written above the door—all can enter.”
“I go in and out. I am no banker,” laughed Kim.
“Alas! I am an old man. I did not know.” Then, fingering his rosary, he half turned to the Museum.
“What is your caste? Where is your house? Have you come far?” Kim asked.
“I came by Kulu—from beyond the Kailas—but what know you? From the hills where”—he sighed—“the air and water are fresh and cool.”
“Aha! Khitai (a Chinaman),” said Abdullah proudly. Fook Shing had once chased him out of his shop for spitting at the joss above the boots.
“Pahari (a hillman),” said little Chota Lal.
“Aye, child—a hillman from hills thou’lt never see. Didst hear of Bhotiyal (Tibet)? I am no Khitai, but a Bhotiya (Tibetan), since you must know—a lama—or, say a guru in your tongue.”
“A guru from Tibet,” said Kim. “I have not seen such a man. They be Hindus in Tibet, then?”
“We be followers of the Middle Way, living in peace in our lamasseries, and I go to see the Four Holy Places before I die. Now do you, who are children, know as much as I do who am old.” He smiled benignantly on the boys.“
Rudyard Kipling (30 december 1865 –18 januari 1936)
Uit: De hel bestaat
“De eerste zonnestralen scheerden over de boomtoppen en kleurden de horizon. De hemel en de aarde wachtten ademloos. Die verwachting ging over op Thompson zelf. Binnenin hem was er een gevoel dat hij eerbied noemde. Stralend en vlammend verscheen de grote ronde zon boven de bossen. En meteen zong en zoemde en gonsde het hele woud. De brulapen krijsten tussen de puinen en zelfs dat klonk melodieuzer dan overdag. Thompson zonk op de knieën. Hij leefde al zoveel jaren onder de Indianen in Yucatan; op dit moment was hij een zonneaanbidder net als zij. Hij zat daar, met zijn gezicht naar de zon toegekeerd en in die oranje gloed blikkerde het hele landschap.”
Willy Spillebeen (Westrozebeke, 30 december 1932)
De Russische dichter en schrijver Daniil Charms (pseudoniem van Daniil Ivanovitsj Joevatsjov) werd geboren in Sint-Petersburg op 30 december 1905. Aan het eind van de jaren ’20 startte hij met onder anderen Alexander Vvedensky de literaire beweging ‘Oberioe’, ‘vereniging voor reële kunst’. Deze groepering maakte absurdistische werken en hield literaire avonden – met als hoogtepunt de avond ‘Drie Linkse Uren’ uit 1928. Met de opkomst van de Stalinterreur werd het voor niet-conformistische schrijvers steeds moeilijker om te overleven, en zo ook voor Charms. Oberioe verdween, en Charms werd in 1931 veroordeeld tot een verbanning naar Koersk, waarvandaan hij in 1933 terugkeerde naar zijn geboortestad. Daar legde hij zich, omdat zijn werk voor volwassenen onpublicabel was geworden onder Stalin, toe op kinderliteratuur. Uiteindelijk werd hij in 1941, tijdens het beleg van het inmiddels tot Leningrad omgedoopte Sint-Petersburg, gearresteerd en krankzinnig verklaard. Charms stierf begin 1942, vermoedelijk uitgehongerd, in een psychiatrische inrichting. Hij heeft geen graf.
Gebet vor dem Einschlafen
Am 28. März 1931 um 7 Uhr abends
Herr, mitten am hellichten Tage
ward ich befallen von der Faulheit.
Erlaube mir zu Bett zu gehen und zu schlafen Herr,
und bis ich einschlafe, wiege mich Herr
mit Deiner Kraft.
Vieles möchte ich wissen,
aber weder Menschen noch Bücher sagen es mir.
Nur Du erleuchte mich Herr
auf dem Wege meiner Verse.
Wecke mich stark zum Kampf mit den Bedeutungen,
schnell zum Führen der Wörter
und fleißig im Lobpreisen Deines Namens Herr in Ewigkeit.
Einst ging ein Mensch aus seinem Haus
in Mantel, Stock und Hut
Lang ist der Weg
lang ist der Weg
der vor ihm auf sich tut.
Er ging und ging geradeaus
und schaute nicht beiseit.
Nicht schlief nicht trank
nicht schlief nicht trank
er gestern, morgen, heut.
Und eines Tags im Morgengraun
stand er im dunklen Wald
Und seit der Zeit
und seit der Zeit
er für verschwunden galt.
Begegnet ihr ihm irgendwann
an irgend einer Stell
dann sagt es uns
dann sagt es uns
dann sagt es uns ganz schnell.
Daniil Charms (30 december 1905 – 2 februari 1942)