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How it went on search

521116. CHAPTER
Maien kicked the water out of his eyes for the first time,
so that he forgot to cry for his advancement.
Manuscript from: Carl Mai, How it went on, Berlin 1941-92

Kriegerdenkmal | Foto: D. KirvesDue to adverse conditions after the Second World War in the northern hemisphere of our Mother Earth, I was expelled from one part of the country to another together with my sisters and my heir - that was our faithful guardian. When we arrived there, the local officials accommodated us in a parsonage under the roof after some back and forth. That was our new home. Except for the annoying school visits and the daily carrying of water from the well to the roof, which was limited to two buckets for me, I fared quite well there, especially since I mostly did what I liked. Only the beating for it was often quite different. Clothes hangers, cooking spoons, broom handles and carpet beaters were broken through on my body. In the beginning I had my pants pulled down for this. Later I pulled them down myself beforehand for the shattering blows of my heritage, which often resulted in the swinging club losing power because of my suddenly bare ass. I defended myself with screaming, nagging and running away, but I did not learn to cry. The tears wanted to stay inside me.

In the summer I nursed my belly there with apples, pears, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, radishes and whatever else nature gave. In unobserved moments I took the most beautiful fruits from the foreign gardens. Once I even took the only apple from a young, well-kept tree. In doing so, I escaped a severe beating thanks to the dung that was stuck under the farmer's clogs. My pursuer slipped on his own dung and fell on his nose.

In winter, in the attic of the parsonage, I smoked dried pear tree leaves in my white clay pipe, which St. Nicholas had given me. And with the church files stacked there, I made myself a little fire now and then to warm my soul. I knew nothing about religion and shrines.

In between, I particularly enjoyed it when a funeral came over the rectory. While everyone was mournfully burying the corpse in the cemetery, the large trays of butter cake were already waiting in the parish hall for the coffee feast that followed. And each time the mourners stayed on the graveyard until I had eaten a whole tray of butter cakes. One whole tray more or less, that was not noticeable with so many mourners.

I had a good relationship with our pastor. Whenever I was in church on Sundays, he would give me a stamp on a card he had given me at the beginning of the year for my pious earthly existence. When he visited the farmers on their farms during the week, they often teased him by opening their cesspools before he approached. Once our priest even fell into such a cesspool with his bicycle. There I felt sorry for him, however, also here the tears did not want out of me.

One day the government decided that seven years after the end of the last great world war, on every second Sunday before the first Advent, the heroes who had died and been shot should be commemorated. They called it the national mourning day.

Because the church had a contract with the government - the state took the tithes out of the people's pockets to give them to the church - our church pastor was deeply obliged to teach us the people's mourning service.

And so it was done: On a foggy and cold November Sunday, after the service, we went out to the cemetery to the war memorial. We had to stand in a circle around the steps of the World War I memorial. A silent serious crowd in gray and black winter coats, their eyes turned to the ground. A trombone choir blew draggingly in the deepest notes "Ich hat einen Kameraden, einen besseren gab es nicht, ...". I was already getting dizzy between all the big people. Then our priest gave a little speech in a black gown about how bad everything had been. He spoke of mass exterminations and nights of bombing, although nothing had been destroyed here in the village. The grief was boundless. He spoke of the All-Father and his Son on the cross. He spoke of guilt and sin.

After his amen, some veterans devoutly laid a giant wreath with black-red-gold sash under the stone steel helmet. And again the trombones intoned dragging and dull booming "I have a comrade ..." The mood became sadder and sadder. Already a slight shiver ran down my spine. And when, after a terribly sad long minute of silence, the trombone choir blew the German national anthem again in a dragging mourning tone and everyone sang softly murmuring: "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit ...", then suddenly it came over me. The tears flowed from my eyes. I cried.

I did not know, however, whether the deep sound of the trombones had moved me to tears, whether it was the murmured national anthem, or whether it was the almighty mourning. In any case, later I had to cry from time to time when a musical sound particularly touched me.

So perhaps it is the frequencies with which we humans stir ourselves after all.

By the way: The German anthem never brought tears to my eyes again, because I eagerly avoided giving myself to it.

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