StringART   by  Ursula  Stirnimann C
Der Trompeter, 1990
Weg der Erkenntnis, 1991
Der Balanceakt, 1991
Mittelpunkt Erde, 2005
Buddha, 2002
Kommunikation, 1991
Der Narr, 1992
Das Urtier, 1992
Der Traumtänzer, 1992
by Meyer- Stirnimann, 2021
How I became a Beggar Just as the time of a ripening is fulfilled and a fruit, if not picked, falls to the earth, so for those who feel driven by the desire for knowledge of the ultimate, unchangeable truth, doors will open for manifold experiences. For these are not promises - but experiences that give the seeker of meaning the certainty of being on the right path for him. This is what happened many years ago during a long stay in a distant country. At that time, several times a day, I had to walk a narrow stretch of road between a very busy road and a wide shoulder next to it, where a number of beggars had found a place to stay among the rubbish and scanty undergrowth. The fact that this was not particularly pleasant for me was not only due to the almost unbearable noise of the traffic and the clouds of dust in which I was repeatedly enveloped, but also partly due to the fact that my regular appearance also aroused hopes and desires among those who are generally counted among one of those unfortunate lowest castes where the right to exist can hardly be named. However, one of these hitherto little-noticed dwellings gradually caught my attention, without my being able to identify any particular reason for it. While at first I only noticed this dwelling out of the corner of my eye as I passed by, this changed from day to day. A strange interest arose in it and in its inhabitant, whom I had never seen before. I wondered what kind of person it was who had found a place to live next to this main street filled with mad bustle. One day I stopped in front of it. Between a pile of rubble and a small tree that seemed to be struggling to survive, there was a small square, always neatly swept, from the centre of which rose a small tent-like thing. Over a horizontal wooden pole, supported on both sides by two sticks, stretched a tarpaulin made of dirty, cut-apart cement sacks, held together to some extent by coarse ropes of coconut fibre. This structure might provide a makeshift protection against dust and rain, but certainly not against the insatiable curiosity of a horde of monkeys, which also appeared here from time to time in search of food. The two triangles of the entrance moved slightly in the wind, obviously someone was inside the tent. When the wind picked up a little, giving me more insight into the dwelling, I stretched a little to catch more of its interior. But at that moment, a bowed head slowly poked out. Slightly startled, and with a touch of shameful voyeurism, I turned away and quickly left the place, still quite happy that the man had obviously not noticed me. On my way home, I admitted to myself a certain curiosity I had found in the occupant of this shabby dwelling - which astonished me a little, because beggars seem to be omnipresent in this country, and it is not uncommon to have trouble keeping them at a distance. Based on the fleeting impression I had gained shortly before, I assumed that it must be a middle-aged man. Well, I was sure I would get to see him! In the following days, on my way home each morning, I placed a small bag of fruit in front of the entrance to his dwelling. I did this not without ulterior motives, because I wanted to meet him, to see him. The days passed, I put the plastic bag down in the morning, only to find a few hours later that it had disappeared and everything else looked exactly the same as before, including the loose, slightly moving two triangles of the tent entrance. Everything was as it had been on the first day of my fleeting awareness, almost as if time had stopped in that little corner of the universe! I simply did not get to see the man! How could that be, did this man recognise me from afar and then hide from me, or had he already recognised my secret intentions, had he seen through me long ago, or was he even playing a game with me? How many days had passed in the meantime? The interest in the situation that had captivated me so much at the beginning had already waned. Once again I was on my way home. While I was thinking, I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to buy fruit for the man, and at the same moment I caught sight of - finally, this man! With a sweeping arm movement, he waved at me excitedly to let me know that I should come to him. My steps quickened, but slowed to hesitancy when I stood just in front of him and perceived him in full. Somewhat self- consciously, I smiled at him in anticipation of what he obviously wanted from me. He, on the other hand, with his face beaming with joy, looked as if he had finally met one of his dearest and most familiar people again after a long time. So we stood facing each other, smiling and silent. Even though it was probably only a few seconds, this moment seemed much longer to me. For the longer I looked into this face, I became aware of how evenly and beautifully it was shaped. The brown skin, slightly bronze-coloured in the evening sun, formed a beautiful contrast to the almost unnaturally radiant eyes. Involuntarily, the question arose in me whether this man in front of me was a beggar at all, and if not, how should a person look and live in order to be recognised by me as a beggar? Did his clothes not seem worn enough to me? The scenery confused me. But before I could think any more about this nonsense, the man pointed to a wall stone with a wave of his arm and a friendly, demanding "Come, come, sit, sit". Hesitantly, I sat down on the stone. Behind me, a truck thundered past, and as if that was not enough noise, the next one followed, honking unbearably loudly. But in spite of all this, my attention was drawn more and more by the industriousness of the man who obviously must have been preparing for this moment! I was curious to see what would follow. In the meantime, he had also taken a seat on a stone and pulled out a small harmonium from behind him. Correcting his sitting posture several times, he positioned his left hand on the lever of the bellows attached to the back, and his right hand on the keys. There followed a brief moment of pause, of gathering, before he leaned his head slightly back on his neck and closed his eyes. The man began to sing and all around me the noisy world died away! A beggar obviously felt the need to give something back to me, and because he had nothing material to give me, he now gave me the gift of his music and his wonderful singing! And while I was aware of this, I also suddenly became aware that the man's hands were missing fingers! He had no fingers, and where his narrow arms ended, a kind of small fists bulged, the right of which rolled alternately to the left and right over the keys, as he was unable to play individual keys! The singing had risen to a crescendo in the meantime. Eyes still closed, the man was obviously completely absorbed in his music, as if he and his music had become one! The realisation of being given a gift by a beggar, the perception of the whole scene, touched my soul deeply! A mixture of shame and quiet, blissful emotion, even joy, flooded my heart, my whole being. My throat became tight, I fought against the rising tears. And all at once I understood: this man in front of me possessed what I had been searching for for years, and had already travelled around the world for. That which had shone out of his eyes into my heart, he already carried within himself! So which of us was the beggar? This thought almost made me dizzy. Oh, if only the earth could open up and I could disappear into it! As if the man had heard my silent cry, all at once his singing stopped. The man looked at me with a friendly smile. How might I have appeared to him now? I put my hands together in silent greeting, bowed deeply and walked quickly away. As fate would have it, we never met again. After several weeks, when I passed this place again, I learned that one day, completely unexpectedly, the entire shoulder had been cleared for the purpose of widening the road. Several times I enquired from the neighbours about the where abouts of the people, the beggar. But nobody could give me any information about him. I had the impression that it was rather amusing that a Westerner inquired about the where abouts of a beggar. (Translated with ) U. Maya
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