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Norbert Herrmann

Norbert Herrmann

Norbert Herrmann has been living in Berlin | Germany and Johannesburg | South Africa for several years. He produces audio-podcasts (tuneplaces.com) as well as short short stories.

Thursday, 08 June 2017 13:27

contemporary foolery

Startup Scaleup Digihub

Innovation Technological Revolution

Web 2.0 Transfer Internet of Things

Big Data Smart Devices Agile Sphinx

Augmented Reality Autonomous Driving

Energy Transition Industry 4.0

Earth System Analyses Intelligent Home

Foster Framework Corresponding Clone

Integration Co-creation Hackathon

Artificial Intelligence Self-Learning Babylon

We accelerate to tenfold extraterrestrial speed

While being soaked and killed by rain and heat
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 15:06

eGolizing

Visions of Sissis and Bhoties fluster my mood
as they almost block my route
while I drive on Golden Highway to Johannesburg

Township beauties in Eldorado’s street
they need to eat - right now - not in a week
for even flavoured condoms do not feed
who can tell which life to live - to live and still stay negative?

I turn and I see Eastgate mall
shop next to shop next to shop, they offer it all
people are lured away from life’s foundations
striving for cash’s alternations

Rich suburbs are home to
fear, that is soaking in from the banned outside

fear, that is not telling black from white
fear, that is public relations for armed response companies
even in hipster’s cafés you can sense nightmare’s breath

Disembarking at the taxi rank
as massiv murmur hits my tattered flank
people preach of a golden future everybody knows it will never exist
this poisonous optimism is one of mzanzis life-sustaining myths

I finally enter the centre, I cross Gandhi Square
I’m an anxious alien - as I am perfectly aware
passing Jeppe Street, no welcoming word can be heard
but then he is spouting off, the Johannesburg nerd

“If only you open your eyes, you will find a lot
open-minded smiles and dignity in this vivid hot spot.
helping hands, high-rises, politics, mind-blowing thunder
in Johannesburg you just can’t stop to wonder.”
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 11:02

Don't Talk About This

“My friend,” Lebo claims “every morning way before dawn my friend has to pass this area.” Lebo points at the shacks, the rubbish, the neglect. “My friend, my dear friend” with her naked hand Lebo rubs her eyes “preventatively, every morning before leaving home she puts on a female condom, that's what she does. She is afraid.” Lebo's hands are shivering. “Those condoms are expensive, pretty expensive.” From her coat Lebo unbags a box of female condoms, a caring smile flashes up and then disappears as if it never was there. “But my dear dear friend says, I could use each of those female condoms several times.” Lebo ultimately hides her face behind her hands, she needs to sit down. Lebo breathes.
Saturday, 03 September 2011 02:00

Day of Reconciliation

Thingahangwi, Brandi and Hannes. From early morning on they have been digging, ripping the surface of the earth. This year it is going to be a long, deep hole. The work of Thingahangwi, Brandi and Hannes progresses steadily, scoop by scoop. Earth-clots keep smacking on the growing heap as their shirts become sweatier and heavier. The three of them would not pause until the hole is deep enough. Deep enough to absorb all this year's horror.

From early morning on people from all over the country keep coming. Obviously, it again is a massive crowd, an endless queue. Anyone who is next coolly steps forward and spits. Into the hole. Then turns. And heads home. This annual ceremony is a disgusting spectacle, a repeating, snotish rhythm, an unmistakable symphony of discontent. Even after long and exhausting hours, after the last spit is spit, nobody dares to look into the hole.

It is night already, they are all gone. All but Thingahangwi, Brandi and Hannes. They grab the shovels, refill the hole. Capping works so much faster than digging. The moon is lightening the scenario when they finally re-erect the gravestone. Colourfully written in chalk, it says: "Past. Rest in Peace."
Monday, 15 February 2010 02:00

Ask Jack

They told me to ask Jack. Ever since I could think. My mothers, my brothers and sisters, my neighbors, anyone I spoke to advised me to contact Jack for receiving the answers. Even when I asked: "Who is this Jack, where can I find him?" they replied: "Ask Jack!"

Sitting at the table, I must have been in an awkward mood that evening! I was shivering as I opened my mouth – and they must have known. Was it the form of my lips, was it the glance of my face? A deathly shadow covered their faces. Their mouths open, their eyes just about to burst. They screamed, that's what they did. In the wide black of their pupils I saw this image, I saw the silhouette of a chain. While I gazed, this chain got hold of my brain. My forehead ached, I started to sweat, I closed my mouth. My unspoken words drowned in the mud of my brain, forever lost.

My mothers quickly recovered from that screaming session. And they kept on smiling. They were single women, they gave us bread to eat, every second day a glass of warm milk, they cared about my brothers and sisters. I wanted to see my mothers smiling, thats what counted to me. Because I thought smiling was a sign of happiness. "You should smile too," was what my mothers said, then they paused, kissed my forehead and quickly turned away.

They would not answer my questions, I would not get to know my past. I accepted this feeling of living in a dead-end street. I began to cross my fingers instead of asking questions. From then on everybody felt very contented with me. My mums smiled when I was sitting in the living room, learning vocabulary for school. They came, kissed me on my forehead, kindly jiggling their heads. "You are grown up now!" and I felt as if being grown up means accepting this chain in my brain, this necklace keeping me from stepping forward. I crossed my fingers.

While I slept mothers sat next to me on my bed, their lips sticking on the hair that covered my forehead. I crossed my fingers, I blanketed my face. But my mothers did not mind, they kissed me through the blanket, even through the pillow which later I put around my head. I felt like being a mummy, an artifact of history without any past of it's own. I was walled by an impermeable mass of smiles and kisses. The necklace was choking me, that was what I felt. I was breathing very slowly and kept my fingers crossed, waiting those kisses to go by.

It takes years and a curious incident to come closer to answers. "What is that on your forehead?" Maria wipes away the hairs that curtain my face. It must be signalling deepest astonishment; Maria immediately lets go of my hair, lets go of the question, lets go of me. The curtain falls quicker than it was lifted.

After Maria's question I am too nervous for anything. All I can think of is that thing behind my curtain, I cannot stop my hands from touching my forehead. Yes, there is something, is it a deep scratch? I enter the bathroom. With short breathing I face the mirror. I have been waiting for this moment all my life. I don't dare to lift my hair. I move my hands between my reflection and me. Sweat is running down my body. I open my eyes. I catch a glimpse through my two fingers, through a crack in my sweat soaked mummy. It is the first time ever that I see myself. How could I have missed this all these years?

Headache: the necklace bursts, the mummy cracks, I stamp on it as I rush into a toilet cubicle. I throw up as much as I can, evena little blood comes up. Spitting out all my dull existence, I knock on the door of my mothers' shack. The door creaks. A smell surrounds me. Never have I perceived a smell at my mothers' shack before. I inhale. I inhale deeply.

My mothers stand facing me. They see my shaved head, feel my empty body, spot my fear. They look alarmed. They look prepared. They do not smile. In their wide open eyes all the answers are accumulating, floating.

With no chain around. That's how we stand, severely, immovably, like grave rocks. Our gazes are melting, building something. It is a path to move forward.