Beat Mundwiler

Ansichtskarten

Eine Erzählung

Life is a journey or consists of ones. Maybe it is a pilgrimage. A life can also be like a mountain hike, always ascending. We might have to climb, then reach heights where the air is so thin that breathing becomes difficult. We might find ourselves completely on our own and at the mercy of nature. We can fall victim to disasters that change lives in one instant. Change them so that we can no longer travel afterwards. Life becomes survival in that way. Journeys create memories. What happens when those get confused? That is what happened to Otto Eichendorff. 

Roswita stands in the rain at a fresh grave and tries, in the days afterwards, to reconstruct the life of a stranger. She had received a dossier in the mail, enclosed in an envelope reading, in capital letters, "Otto Eichendorff". After that rainy day she draws a warm bath at her hotel, orders wine with two glasses, and asks herself many questions. A long-haired, tattooed biker joins her and helps her understand the matter "Eichendorff". Later they go on drives with the motorbike. Sheep and cows watch them pass. No one yet knows who the biker is. Before falling asleep, Roswita's hands pensively wander over the tattoos of her eerie acquaintance. She wants one herself. A swallow, maybe, or a butterfly on her chest, where not everyone can see it. 

Otto Eichendorff travelled and climbed mountains all over the world. He took pictures and wrote about foreign countries, until a tragedy changed everything. Afterwards, he settled on a rainy island, got a dog and called it Hemingway. Since then, his life only consisted of daily walks along the coast.  

A surprising phone call from his former publisher startled Eichendorff up. Whether he wanted to write a short text about a photograph? He would do what he could, Eichendorff promised, but soon realised that he could no longer properly remember. He no longer knew what certain pictures depicted. He had memories for which there no longer were any photographs. In the end he had not a single picture of which he knew exactly what it showed. "This is definitely a jellyfish. A jellyfish silently floating through the shadow of a boat's bow. Like an angel. A water angel," Eichendorff thought about the last photograph and died shortly after. Roswita only has to pick up Hemingway from the shelter and get a tattoo of a butterfly on her chest so that everything can end well. 

"Ansichtskarten" is about life and death of both humans and animals. We expect to have no memories after our deaths. Or do we die because we can no longer remember? What about a life in which there were no memorable moments?