englisch A role model

A role model

Translator: Hans-Christian Oeser
Original title: Ein Vorbild (24/07/2005)
published in:
Sphärenmusik – Music of the Spheres – Ceol na Sféar
published in:
Die Sekunden danach
– enth. in: Die Sekunden danach


The ear cleaner
in front of the eastern portal of the great Friday Mosque –
legs apart, he squats on the topmost step,
you will know him by his
betel-juice-red headscarf
and that casually held, alarmingly long needle:
either it’s still tucked away under his kerchief
or already stuck in the client’s head

The cleaner must be quick,
any moment one of the attendants might arrive
and with his cane sweep all the squinting rascals,
toothless brawling women, tugging urchins
and ear cleaners off the sandstone steps
(only the tourists are allowed to stay
so that they may relish the view)

The cleaner must be quick,
his workplace is in constant danger,
even the bottom step is ruled by beggars and by cripples.
Briskly he brandishes his implement
inside the ear of his client (whose mouth is agape),
eagerly pushes here and there
and ever deeper, millimetre by millimetre

But when he withdraws it, his implement,
he never fails to show his client
the brownish waxen findings
of his fervour before he wipes them,
with a carefree flick, on the ball of his left thumb

An ear cleaner,
in the middle of Old Delhi,
you will know him by his bright red scarf