I’ve been wandering around Berlin, pretty busy trying to be as hipsterish/cool as ever, which included going to an alternative concert where I had alternative feelings of being “very cool indeed for being there” and “absolutely out of place”, but it was fun, and provided me and my friend with almost endless opportunities to dissect the facial hair style of the public.
Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, yesterday I went to buy some milk at the department store, and stumbled upon a small antiquarian book stand (okay, maybe stumble isn’t the exact word for it: it was at the opposite end of the shopping centre, but still, I reckon it was destiny). And amongst a few crime/thrillers books that I bought in German to practice, …well, my German (by the way, those were “used books” and therefore 1 euro, but they look more new than most of my new books, one of them still has the price tag from 95 on it, and is shiny. Sometimes, I love Germany’s obsession for cleanliness), I found this:
This is Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a young poet, a correspondence of 5 years and 10 letters the poet wrote to Franz Kappus, a cadet in a military academy, about what it means to be an artist, and a human being, and poetry. So it’s wonderful in itself. It’s a 1950 edition.
I has picked it just for that (also, 1 Euro) and then I opened it and found this postcard inside.
This is dated “Güstrow, Easter 1952”. An aunt is apologising for having missed her nephew’s birthday, and his sending this book as a present, hoping it will arrive on time for him to enjoy it “with the spring coming” she says the countryside around Güstrow is blossoming, and that she is looking forward to being able to have nice walks again.
A lovely, peaceful postcard, almost inconsequential, but written in 1952, not yet exactly 7 years after the end of world war 2, in a small town that was now – as of not yet 3 years – part of the GDR, Eastern Germany.
Since yesterday I’ve been thinking about this aunt and her nephew, the lives they must have had – vastly different experiences due to having a generation’s age difference. I wonder what became of them, I wonder how this book, published in Leipzig in 1950, came to a mall in Berlin in 2016. I found I am always amazed at the singularity of individual lives in the turmoil of History.
She states, at some point: “Sun and warmth are good, especially for the heart, and we have had very few of both lately”.
Exactly everything hidden behind this “lately”, I may never know, but I can imagine, and be thankful for the sun we have now.