Desmond Painter. Man op ‘n balkon

Ons hotel was in Egnatia, Thessaloniki se besigste straat. Ek het hierdie foto een aand net voor donker van die balkon af geneem. Dit was kort voor ons vertrek uit die stad. Ek wou my tydelike uitsig op ‘n manier bewaar. Dit gebeur so min dat ek nuwe uitsigte het, en genoeg tyd gegun word om aan hulle gewoond te raak…

Ek probeer myself vanaand, ‘n koue, sopnat aand in Stellenbosch, op daardie balkon onthou — iets van wat ek gevoel het, gedink het, gehoor het, geruik het, moet tog nog agterhaalbaar wees, lewendiger as ‘n foto? Waarom anders reis ‘n mens tog? Maar al waaraan ek om een of ander rede vanaand kan dink, is hierdie lieflike gedig van die Kubaanse digter Heberto Padilla:

Man on the Edge – deur Heberto Padilla

He is not the man who goes over the wall,

feeling himself enclosed by his times,

nor is he the fugitive breathing hard

hidden in the back of a truck

fleeing from the terrorists,

nor is he the poor guy with the canceled passport

who is always trying to cross a new border.

He lives on this side of heroics

– in that dark part –

but never gets rattled or surprised.

He does not want to be a hero,

not even a romantic

around whom we might

weave a legend.

He is sentenced to this life, and, what terrifies him more,

condemned irretrievably to his own time.

He is headless at two in the morning,

going from one room to another

like an enormous wind

which barely survives in the wind outside.

Every morning he begins again

as if he were an Italian actor.

He stops dead

as if someone has just stolen his being.

No looking glass would dare reflect

this fallen mouth, this wisdom gone bankrupt.

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