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The Trial / Die Verhandlung

And so they came to my door. They didn't have to sneak up on me, they knew I had nowhere to escape. The engine rumbled arrogantly; quiet, well-repaired engines are for the powerless. And then it stopped, merging into the night's silence, as easily as it had shattered it. I could then hear them, the sweaty, nervous militia men cocking their rifles.

I parted the curtain, and there they were, barrels aimed at my windows. Fully surrounded, as only the might of state can ensure. No escape then, no terms of surrender. I could go out in the blaze of guns the bastards wanted, for their glory, their honour, their shiny medals. Or I could choose a few more days of breathing. Panting more likely; I have asthma and they know it. A kangaroo court, a monkey trial. Blasphemy, treason, undermining the revolution, poisoning the peasants. The impassioned defence, the booing rabble, the shooting squad.

It was so tempting then to consider cyanide. And yet no, perhaps the fascination of the imminent theatre — oh, the spotlights — could fight it. As could imagening the masochism of the means of torture. The death-grip of this, this fascinating horror, was perhaps stronger than death's own grip. Which was coming anyway. I began to dress.

in the lights

Note: Note: 46664 is the number by which Nelson Mandela was known for the 27 years he was imprisoned at Robben Island.


Translation into German by Chrysanthemum Editorial Team:

Und so standen sie vor meiner Tür. Sie brauchten nicht an mich  heranzuschleichen, denn sie wußten, daß ich keine Fluchtmöglichkeit hatte.
Arrogant laut lärmte der Motor; ruhige, wohleingestellte Motoren sind für die Machtlosen. Und dann wurde er abgestellt und verband sich mit der Stille der Nacht, so einfach wie er sie zerbrochen hatte. Alsdann konnte ich sie hören, schwitzende, nervöse Männer der Miliz, die ihre Gewehre spannten.

Ich schob den Vorhang auf, und da waren sie, die auf mein Fenster gerichteten
Gewehrläufe. Völlig umstellt, wie das nur eine Staatsmacht sicherstellen kann.
Kein Entkommen, keine Möglichkeiten des Aufgebens. Ich könnte hinausgehen, hinein ins Gewehrfeuer, so wie es diesen Hundesöhnen gefiele, zu ihrer  Glorifizierung, für ihre Ehre, ihre glänzenden Orden. Oder ich könnte mir aussuchen, noch ein paar Tage länger zu atmen. Wahrscheinlich mehr keuchen; denn ich habe Asthma und sie wissen das. Ein Geheimgericht. Eine Scheinverhandlung. Schmähungen, Verrat, die Revolution untergraben, die Kleinbauern vergiften. Die leidenschaftslose Verteidigung, der höhnende Pöbel, das Erschießungskommando.

Zyanid zu nehmen wäre damals so verführerisch gewesen. Und dennoch nein, vielleicht wegen der Faszination des bevorstehenden Theaters — oh, das  Scheinwerferlicht — könnte mich dessen erwehren. So wie ich mir den Masochismus der Foltermethoden vorstellen konnte. Sein Todesgriff, dieser faszinierende Horror, war vielleicht schlimmer als der Todesgriff selbst. Welcher so oder so kommen würde. Ich begann mich anzuziehen.

in die Lichter

Anmerkung: 46664 war Nelson Mandelas Kenn-Nummer während seiner 27jährigen Gefangenschaft auf Robben Island.


Published in Chrysanthemum p. 68


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