Ina Maria Vogel

I had seen my father less than a month before when I visited him and his wife one afternoon during the Christmas holidays. He was still at home then and was putting all his hopes into the new treatment he had been on for just a few weeks. He was suffering from pharyngeal cancer. The tumor in his throat had seemed utterly unimpressed by the chemo treatment before and was growing steadily. Swallowing had rapidly become a hurdle, yet, since it was Christmas, my father was determined to finish a piece of mushy raspberry cake. Once the new therapy proved to be effective, he told me, he and his wife were planning to take a trip to their vacation home at the Baltic Sea. A place that he had always generously offered to me for vacation at a “friendly price” ever since his wife had bought it during a manic episode without a watertight financial plan. I always declined the offer – the idea of paying my father to stay at his own place struck me as odd; after all, for most of my childhood, he had often only stood out by being absent and way more interested in alcohol than anything else. The audacity, I thought – and once again immediately cursed myself for my wandering thoughts upon the mention of his vacation plans. This was not the time to hold grudges against him. But is there ever a good time for grudges? They were persistent guests in my mind, and I did not always have the strength to hint that it’s time for them to leave, so they often overstayed their welcome.

The possibility that this might likely be his last Christmas was hovering over the dinner table like a dark cloud, but everyone pretended that the cloud was nothing but a cumulus one that might make way for the sun in a bit. His wife was playing Christmas carols and dishing up pork and gravy while she was echoing my father’s vacation plans. It was surreal but I did not dare to rain on their plate and gently smiled and nodded along. More than ever, the visit was accompanied by my deep desire to leave their apartment as soon as possible. The urge to keep my stay with them as brief as acceptable was nothing new, but this time the conversation felt even more awkward than usual. I was used to evenings with them that felt like a heavy backpack, pinching me and wearing me down the longer I wore it; I tried to squeeze in no more than two of these dinners per year for that very reason. Carefully curated grudges and resentment that had thoroughly built up ever since I was a child were naturally all the more present during these evenings, and it was always a relief to take off the imaginary backpack the minute I closed their door behind me. I was well aware that it would probably be wise to eventually confront myself with all those grudges, but a part of me was too full of spite to allow those memories to circle back yet again. In the middle of mushy raspberry cake, heavy mental backpacks and dark clouds, I began to realize that maybe it was about time to let it all go. After I finally emerged from the building and walked towards my car – I thought – maybe.

The next time I heard from him was about a week later when we exchanged the obligatory well wishes on New Year’s Day. He mentioned that not only swallowing but also breathing had become almost impossible by now and that he was about to go to the hospital. We usually kept these conversations short and preferred text messages over actual talking, but two days later, he called me on my cell phone, which seemed very out of character for him. He informed me about the surgery he would undergo the next day, in which, in his own words, they would open his throat and insert a tube from the outside to facilitate breathing and nutrition. His tone was rather matter of fact about it, but I could tell he was trying to suppress a tremble in his voice while talking. I felt like a horrible person after we hung up. There was a good portion of self-blame for all the grudges I so adamantly held on to, but I could also feel a lot of anger flaring up. It was not fair that he was losing his voice before he was able to answer all my questions! Then there was shame and regret for never having used any of those dreaded visits to actually talk to him or at least scream at him. Instead, I mostly sat there apathetically, silently counting down the obligatory three hours until I would be able to feel like myself again. Over the last 20-something years, I had really put a lot of time and effort into avoiding the discomfort that would come with confronting the truth.

(…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

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