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Carmen-Francesca Banciu is the author of many books and the recipient of numerous literary distinctions and awards. A native of Romania, Banciu has been living in Berlin, where she emigrated from Romania in 1990. Her work deals with the experience of writing under Communist dictatorship, geographic, psychic and linguistic migrations, and cross-cultural conflicts and exchanges between East and West.

Book reviews: http://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/feuilleton/buchrezensionen/in-der-knautschzone-1.671792

Song of the Sad Mother

Written by Carmen-Francesca Banciu
Translated from the German by Elena Mancini

Chapter I

Flowers for Mother

I brought her flowers. But mother was not used to flowers. Im not dead, yet, shed say. I didnt know where to put them. The fleshy roses suddenly seemed obscene. She said: Throw them away, if you cant think of anything better to do with them. Nothing came to me. I was frozen.

You need to get over here, father told me on the phone. Supposedly it was important. ?He didnt say whether it was important for him. Or for whom.

I should come immediately, he said. And I got on the first flight.
Did she want to see me?
And did I want to see her?

An odor of burnt dolls mixed with chrysanthemum floated in the air. But chrysanthemum was only in my head. And the dolls had long since been gone.

I brought mother roses.
Mother lay in bed. She said that I should pray for her. Mother talked about praying as though it were the same as washing your hands. She had only taught me how to wash my hands.

I cant pray. Mother had never taught me a thing about prayer. So that I would never get into the habit of depending on anyone. You can only depend on yourself, she would tell me. And I allowed this lesson to impress itself upon me very deeply. I allowed it to impress itself upon me only to forget it again immediately.

Can you imagine that? I allowed this lesson to impress itself upon me forever only to simultaneously forget it. Do you know what its like, to know something and not know it, at the same time? When one is able to do something and at the same time unable to do it. Thats when you feel like you exist. You exist. But you dont exist. And you yearn for your own being.
Read the entire chapter @ http://intranslation.brooklynrail.org/german/song-of-the-sad-mother

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