“I’ll put the flowers in a vase for you,” the nurse said, “you may take a seat in the waiting area and I’ll call you when he is awake,” she added.
I slowly wandered through the dark, windowless hallway until I saw a dim light emerging from the barely open door of the little waiting room. A sign above the door said “Ruhe bitte!” – silence, please. That sign seemed rather redundant considering that one could easily observe the sound of a feather falling to the ground at the other end of the hallway. This must be one of the most silent places in the entire city. There were no footsteps to be heard, no white noise, let alone a whisper. This was the epicenter of silence. Words uttered within these walls were particularly potent and generally chosen wisely, as I was about to find out later.
The walls were a medium cold grey with a greenish undertone that added to the emotionally charged atmosphere despite the apparent effort to break up the tension by adding bold floral oil paintings in orange and yellow here and there. Their effect was more Kafkaesque than calming. But to be fair, they could have installed a disco ball above the reception desk, and it would not have changed a thing. There is only so much you can do to lighten up a palliative care unit in a hospital, and there is a time and a place for disco balls – this was not it.
I reached the waiting room and was not a bit surprised to see that it was entirely in grey as well. Next to one of the floral oil paintings, a large wooden crucifix was prominently hanging from the ceiling. Quite literally, as it was attached to the ceiling with two nylon strings and leaning from the wall at a 45-degree angle. This Jesus almost appeared like a paraglider who was about to take off. But I was admittedly a rather cynical judge of such displays and was not in the mood to see that poor guy with bleeding limbs as source of uplifting feelings and inspiration while waiting to see my father for the last time in his – and my – life.
Ironically, the 1950s kidney table next to the (yet again) grey chairs displayed the latest tabloids, so you could choose to either lay your eyes on the paragliding Jesus or to dive into some juicy royal gossip. I chose the latter, although I could not care less whether or not the Swedish king had betrayed his elegant German wife. I was too distracted wondering what the faces behind each of those 24 doors looked like right now. 24 human lives in their last stages, 24 people trying to retrospectively make sense of it all before the lights went out for good, 24 characters tracing back their paths of life wondering what might have awaited around the corner had they taken a different turn here or there. I could not help but think that those 24 doors resembled a morbid, never ending advent calendar. And suddenly, the Jesus display made sense again. A wave of guilt for my morbid thought mixed with sadness was creeping up my back. What must each and every person behind these doors be going through right now? Were they able to find closure or were they still fighting the unavoidable? As soon as my mind dared to start wondering how I would possibly feel at this stage and what age I might be, I quickly diverted its path by forcing myself to focus on yet another scandalous half-truth in the tabloid; it was early January, hence plenty of completely unnecessary information about the holiday festivities of the rich and ritzy.
(…to be continued…)
Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent
January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)
June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)
July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)
August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)
September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)
October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
November: To be announced – (hopefully) Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Credits (clockwise from upper left-hand corner)
Berlin, Germany – Sakuras in the spring – Pani Garmyder (Shutterstock), Berlin, Germany – In the U-Bahn – Werner Spremberg (Shutterstock), Nuremberg, Germany – Old town square – Ark Neyman (Shutterstock), Halle, Germany – The tram – ArTono (Shutterstock), Munich, Germany – Getting of the subway – Nemanja Petronje (Shutterstock), Cuxhaven, Germany – The bus – Bjoern Wylezich (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed