It’s Not Hanky Panky

Just a tiny piece from The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009. It is worth your time to listen to the video if you go to that site. Link is below.



The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009
Herta Müller

Photo Gallery

Nobel Prize Award Ceremony



No other object in the house, including ourselves, was ever as important to us as the handkerchief. Its uses were universal: sniffles; nosebleeds; hurt hand, elbow or knee; crying, or biting into it to suppress the crying. A cold wet handkerchief on the forehead for headaches. Tied at the four corners it protected your head against sunburn or rain. If you had to remember something you made a knot to prompt your memory. For carrying heavy bags you wrapped it around your hand. When the train pulled out of the station you waved it to say good-bye. And because the word for tear in our Banat dialect sounds like the Romanian word for train, the squeaking of the railcars on the tracks always sounded to me like crying. In the village if someone died at home they immediately tied a handkerchief around his chin so that his mouth stayed closed when the rigor mortis set in. In the city if a person collapsed on the side of the road, some passerby would always take a handkerchief and cover his face, so that the handkerchief became the dead man’s first place of peace.

On hot summer days the parents would send their children to the cemetery late in the evening to water the flowers. We stayed together in groups of two or three, quickly watering one grave and then the next. Afterwards we would huddle together on the steps of the chapel and watch wisps of white mist rise from some of the graves. They would fly up a little ways and disappear in the darkness. For us they were the souls of the dead: animal figures, glasses, little bottles and cups, gloves and stockings. And here and there a white handkerchief bordered by the black night.



3 thoughts

    • What a life she had. It baffles me how one could survive such atrocities. Now she is a Nobel Prize winner. I am so happy for her. Thank you so much for sharing her story with me. I have learned so much and there was so much in her speech and video that spoke to me.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts

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