Translated by JUMIMA
So here are some of the promised memories with men who desire.
Some initial experiences as a small child did not go very deep.
When I was eight and a half, I lived alone in the countryside and was visited by my father every two weeks. Otherwise, he wrote to me every three days, my mother at longer intervals. There were reasons of political security for my “life in near-exile”. I was a guest of ordinary people, played with the children there, didn’t go to school, but had private lessons instead. I was like from a different star but was accepted.
A teacher of 39 years made eyes at me. He was not unappealing to me, I just found him somewhat awkward and wooden. He had a different mother tongue, you have to consider that, another religion, dressed as usual there, but a little strange to me, did not talk to me about my origins, which annoyed me a bit.
He also tutored me in Latin. At first he wanted to go through elementary things which had offended me. I already knew alot, much more than he initially thought possible. In short, we didn’t really warm up with each other.
One day, in September, he read to me from the diaries of a 19th century poet, always looking at me “meaningfully”.
I interrupted (it is not only a reconstruction from - as always and everywhere - unreliable memory, but also from a language other than German):
“You make sweet eyes at me!”
“What’s, ‘sweet eyes’, what’s that …!”
“Like a fish in love!”
“A ‘fish in love’! What’s that supposed to mean? Never heard of it!”
“Yes, you have! Just now. Boiled fish, if you prefer that …”
“Boiled fish! Boiled fish! Want to bully me?”
“Nope, you boiled fish!”
Both laugh, embarrassment, silence …
“I don’t like being here … I’d rather be at home.”
“What, (parroting and slightly nasal) ‘I know, I know’! What do you know, ‘teacher’!”
“Yes, of course, I know!”
“And why don’t you talk to me about it?”
“I do not know…”
“So now we’re at the ‘you’!” [familiar address]
“Tell me, are you a bit crazy today?”
Shrugging shoulders, chuckling, then:
“Sweet eyes lead to nothing …!”
“We could go through your essay …”
“You’re starting to really get on my nerves!”
Shrugging shoulders. Prolonged silence.
“I make ‘sweet eyes’ at you because I like you …!”
“It’s true! I do like you!”
“How can I show you!?”
Long glance from me, then:
“If you want, and if I want, maybe then …”
“Maybe then…! Maybe just friends!”
That was our declaration of love. That afternoon he kissed me. You shouldn’t scoff at a cooked fish in a good kitchen.
What started so “zofferig” [naughty behaviour] got very tender. The two and a half we were together, before the wind of politics blew me away again, have shaped me strongly and deeply. Only with him I learned that one could be weak and completely silly not only as a child, but even as a “man”. And for the first time in my life I learned how much I could give to a non-relative, how much closeness is possible with so much cultural diversity. Not the terms I had back then, but the experiences from that time, told first-hand. Long afterwards, after the war, the former teacher fled to relatives in Australia using false papers. He wrote to me several times until he had a fatal car accident in the sixties. He wrote: “It was very nice with you, Tadi … It was so nice …”
When he died, his wife sent my letters and photos with a tender-sad letter back to me.
He had kept everything.
For today only the third and fourth. The second one is so intimate to me that I don’t know if I’ll ever write about it …
I call the third one Sanjo, here. Sanjo was a religious man of an unloved order. He taught French in an elite boarding school in another country where some teachers were priests. Priests who had been uncomfortable to the church because of their insubordination, and had who been deported. (Ridiculously, the principal was a Japanese, who in turn was not wanted in Japan!) He pushed me courageously, in a way that was too sticky, too sweet, too clingy. He was intelligent, very educated, very self-pitying. He not only told me about André Gide and Paul Claudel, he not only read Rimbaud with me, he not only told me that he was “actually” of Jewish descent; no, he “betrayed” to me things that I didn’t want to know, for example that he washed his underpants himself so that the house staff would not see the sperm stains …
In short, he got on my nerves!
As much as he wanted to be closer to me, I kept him at a distance, without exception.
The poor man never got over it completely, and it still worries me a bit today. But there was no other way. Sanjo was too sticky, and I really couldn’t do that. Even today, when I speak French, my memory returns to his unfortunate, unfortunately only pitiful love, I don’t know how I should have done it differently …
With him there was also “Arrigo” in the teaching staff. Arrigo taught philosophy (we had it from the seventh grade!) And, as an elective subject (chosen by me and loved very much!), cinematics.
Arrigo is, after my father and even before my uncle Ferid, who I mock here so often and with lots of fantasy, Arrigo is the man who has left the most traces in my soul as I grew up. He was relatively small, very delicate, very quiet, completely unsportsmanlike, detesting any martial art. Religious man of a very prestigious order, he was very often urged to leave that order - which he refused out of pure hard headedness, because he didn’t want to give that victory to his opponents. He wore delicate glasses with black metal edges. When he put them down, and he often did, I saw their imprints on the bridge of his nose. He rubbed it with his left hand while thinking, casually holding the glasses at the end of a temple between his thumb and index finger of the right hand with an almost dance-like gesture that fascinated and turned me on because the gesture was light and half-mannered. He devoted as much time as he could to me. His eyes always flashed for a milisecond when he saw me. He told me about the pre-Socratics and the laws of silent film, about Okam’s razor and the aporias (= roughly “contradictions” and “unsolvable tensions”) of the theory of representation, about camera work and characters of directors, about the insights and misunderstandings of a certain Karl Marx, of anti-Semitic Jews. I told him about China and the Chinese script, about my father and my cousin, and he was the only one in my life to whom I read my own poems aloud. I stroked his eyebrows, he purred almost inaudibly like a teenage tomcat looking for games. He smiled as delicate as a pencil drawing; brought objections into the game as witty as card players bring their queens & kings; looked at me with half closed roguish eyes. We explored the world of sex as meticulously and devotedly and blissfully as my father explored the plains of southern China. We lay lying together for half an hour, only half awake, as only enchanted, dreamy, infatuated lovers can do.