El cine a través del escaparate

Llovía. No había clase. Como cada sábado por la mañana, ella estaba detrás del mostrador de cristal donde se exponían panecillos, pasteles y otros productos de panadería y de pastelería para la venta. A través del escaparate veía como el viento barría las hojas de los arboles revoloteándolas por la calle.
Delante de la tienda una mujer luchó con su paraguas. Encima, en el escaparate, había una inscripción con letras gruesas que decía: “Panadería Müller”, en escritura invertida, desde luego, para alguien que lo leyese desde adentro. Cuando ella estaba sola y no tenía que atender a clientes, le gustaba imaginarse que este escaparate fuera una pantalla de cine y que lo que veía detrás de él fuera solo una película.
En su fantasía entonces cambiaba la escena. Los coches se volvían en carruajes, las hojas en pájaros y, por ejemplo, esta mujer con el paraguas se convertía en su madre luchando contra un dragón furioso. Especialmente esta imagen le divertía mucho. Su madre, que lo entendía todo mal, que malinterpretaba sus palabras, que sabía convertir lo bueno en malo y lo malo en bueno, probablemente también hubiera podido superar un combate contra un dragón furioso o por lo menos hubiera conseguido un empate. Hasta el próximo combate.
La mujer con el paraguas había desaparecido hace tiempo. Ahora ella se imaginaba, pues, qué le gustaría escribir en el escaparate en lugar de la palabra aburrida: “Panadería Müller”. ¿Qué tal si fuera “eres importante para mí”, “de todas formas te quiero” o “me enojo contigo porque te quiero”? O quizás también: “Te enojo …”. Sonreía un poco pensando en esto. Se figuró el efecto que tuviera esta inscripción en la gran luna del escaparate. Toda la gente que pasara por la panadería podría leerla, también su madre. Ella se figuraba entonces la inscripción: “Eres importante para mí”. ¿Podría su madre finalmente entenderla entonces a ella? Se la imaginó parada delante del escaparate, frunciendo y meneando la cabeza. Entonces se le ocurrió la idea: “Tienes que colocar tus palabras en escritura invertida.”

(Por Stefan Hammel, traducción: Bettina Betz)

Snail and Vole

A story by Katharina Lamprecht

A vole watched a snail, which dipsy-doodled along a path and asked her: “Why do you crawl so arduously back and forth? Doing that it takes you much longer to get forward”. The snail sighed. “That’s true, but I always look on both sides of the path for something to eat. When I´m on the left side I keep thinking, that there might be better food on the right. When I´m on the right side I think the same and therefore go back to the left. I´m always afraid that I will overlook some yummy greens”. The vole understood perfectly. “I´ll help you. I´m a big taller than you are and walk in the middle of the path, that´s a good lookout. You can stay on the right side and in case I see something worth coming over to the left, I´ll let you know”. And in this way they went on. The vole saw many lush and juicy herbs on the left side, but it didn’t say a word. Because now, giving all her attention to just one side of the path, the snail found enough treats. After a while, as the snail discovered that she found enough to eat, she thanked the vole for the help and went on by herself. Just following her path.

Two cactuses

Another story by Katharina Lamprecht

“This is awful!”, one cactus complained, “My thorns are so long that no animal dares to come near me. No lizard, no bird not even the tiniest termite! I feel so lonely”.

“Why are you complaining?” the other cactus answered, “Mine are so weak and thin and soft that I cannot defend myself at all. No animal shows me any respect. The lizards climb all over me and tickle me with their little feet and the birds dig their claws so deep into my flesh that it hurts. I hate it”.

“You are a lucky one”, the first cactus replied, “I would give my roots for an experience like that. Imagine, feeling all that life on oneself”.They went on complaining and lamenting in this way to each other for a while. But suddenly they had a wonderful idea: they would swap their thorns so that each other could get the feeling they wanted. And for a short time, both were happy. One, to feel the birds and lizards and the other to enjoy peace and quiet. But that didn´t hold on for long and soon each began to complain again. They felt their new lives to be exhausting or boring and they longed for their old lives. So they swapped their thorns back. But again, after a short period of contentment they began whining again as before.

Then one day the wise old snake came along and rested for a moment in the shade, the two cactus casted. She listened to the two of them, complaining away, and suddenly she whispered “instead of wailing to one another you better learn from one another”. And with these words said, she slithered on.

The cactus thought about these words for three days and three nights. Then they began to try and find out, how they each managed to let their individual thorns grow. When they knew how to do that, each started to explain and teach the other how to do it. After some practice they knew precisely how to grow strong and how to grow weak thorns. And the more they experimented the better they became and the more colorful and different their thorns got.

Now they were able to keep a perfect balance between peace and quiet and lively action. And for the wise little snake they created a thornless and shady space right between them.


This is a story by my colleague and friend Katharina Lamprecht from Bruchköbel near Frankfurt, Germany…

One day an old Sufi master came through a little village, where just previously a big blast had occurred. In the middle of the village square was a huge hole in the ground and stones and lumps of mud and earth scattered everywhere. „Master“, the people cried, “look at the disaster that happened to us.  The center of our village, our village´s pride and joy, is destroyed. What shall we do?  Please, advise us.” „Dig“, the old man answered. „Dig? But there is already such a big hole. Wouldn´t it be better to fill it up“?
“If you have to overcome an obstacle, there are different ways to do so. You can either ignore it, remove it or use it. You never know if there is a treasure hidden”. Pondering these words, the people began to dig slowly, deeper and deeper until they hit upon a natural spring of pure sweet, delicious water which in time brought trees and flowers to their village square.

Margarita y Lucía

En la rendija de un muro vivían dos lagartijas, Margarita y Lucía. Lucía estaba todo el día echada en el muro tomando sol. Margarita pasaba la mayoría del tiempo buscando insectos para sí misma y para sus hijos. Cuando veía a Lucía echada en el muro, se enfadaba.
“¡Tú cómo gastas el tiempo! Si fueras lagartija decente, por fin te preocuparías del bienestar de tus hijos. ¿Qué es lo que haces todo el día allí arriba?” Lucía pestañó y dijo: “Recupero energía. De esta manera sí que hago algo para mis hijos.”
“Lo veo diferente”, gruñó Margarita. “Y un día te llevará el águila ratonera o el halcón.”
“Esperemos a ver qué pasa”, opinó Lucía y se desperezó en el sol. Margarita prefiría buscar presa en la sombra de los arbustos bajos. Pasaba mucho tiempo cazando hormigas. A menudo parecía cansada. Su vida estaba cada día más amenazada: Ya no tenía nada que contraponer a la rapidez de los gatos y a la de las comadrejas.
Los hijos de Lucía se volvieron fuertes y despabilados, todo como ella misma. Pronto empezaron cogiendo las arañas más gordas, los cárabos más rápidos y aun grandes libélulas. Pero lo que les gustaba lo más era echarse en el muro al lado de su madre y estirarse a la luz del sol.

Everything Else

In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.

Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.

Political Solution

One morning the old storyteller said to his apprentice: “As you know, the king will be a guest in our town today. I have received a letter stating that he has heard of what I do and would like to hear a sample of my art himself. The king is in great worry, because the monarch of our neighbouring country demands from him a personal apology for some uncouthness, which truly he has never committed. By expressing this apology the king would be stripped of his dignity in front of his own nation and the neighbouring people. If he does not apologise, the other ruler threatens to ravage our land with his strong army. What is our king to do? If he apologises, he loses the respect of our people and of the neighbouring people as well, and maybe even his self-respect. If he does not apologise, the other monarch will take this as an excuse for starting a war. Then our king will lose his land and possibly his life, and our people will suffer great harm. At noon, I shall be at the town hall, in order to tell the King a tale which may give him a helpful hint for making his decision. I feel more feeble now than ever in my life, and I wish you to accompany me on my way.” The way to town seemed longer than usual to the apprentice. They had to pause many times so his master could regain his strength, but finally they arrived. They were guided to the king and all the dignitaries assembled in the town hall, and they were seated among them at a large table. After a number of high and important people had spoken, the storyteller was also asked to speak. He said: “In our town, there once lived a well-known man who was to hold a speech for many people, and even for the king. Now as he looked around, he saw such an abundance of wise and educated people that he himself did not feel wise at all. He forgot how at other times he had known to help himself out of any difficulty. He would have wished to sink into a deep hole in the ground. As this is impossible – what did this man do?”

After these words, the old man fell silent. Despairingly he turned to his apprentice with an inquiring look, as if he were uttering some wordless plea. The young man rose to speak and said: “He fell silent. He let his apprentice speak for him. His apprentice delivered the message to the king and this abundance of wise and educated people which his master would have told if words had not failed him. The apprentice said: ‘My master asks your pardon that he cannot address to you the words that you desire to hear from him. Yet he lets me speak for him. May I express his deep regret.” The people heard the apprentice speak for his master, and no one could decide whether the apprentice truly spoke for his master, but neither could anyone deny it. For his master’s mind seemed absent, and neither did he show approval nor reject the words the apprentice spoke on his behalf.”

The apprentice ended his speech. The listeners looked startled at him and his master. Then some of them started to laugh, while others clapped their hands, and a very odd atmosphere of tension filled the room. The mayor called for the next speakers, and the rest of the day passed by with music and festivities. Finally everyone went home. The king, however, sent heralds out on this very day. In all the towns of his empire they proclaimed the following message: “Tomorrow at noon, the king will abdicate because of his feeble health, and leave the royal throne to his oldest son. The speech of the king on passing over the crown and sceptre must be called off due to his sickness. His son will speak for him instead, and will truthfully state what his father would have said if only he had been able to speak as the king of this land for the very last time. The king knew well that his court would be bewildered at this curious message. But the ruler of his neighbouring country also could not easily decide what had been said by whom, and what was meant by the words that had been spoken.

On the way home the old storyteller seemed more tired than usual. He said to his apprentice: “Tomorrow I expect that a lot of people will come to my house wishing to hear a tale. It is impossible for me to do so. I would like you to take over.” The young man assured him that he would do so. After the apprentice had gotten up and had washed and clothed himself the next morning, he looked for his master. There in his bed lay the storyteller – dead. “What shall I do?” the young man asked himself in utter terror, and looked out of the window. His terror was even greater when he saw a vast crowd of people approaching the house. He went outside. “What do you want?” he asked the first ones who came toward him. “Your master has saved our land – or you and your master. We will live in peace, and we wish to tell him our words of gratitude. We also would like to ask your master to tell us one of his tales.” The young man shook his head: “The storyteller is dead. He asked me, though, to speak to you, and tell a tale on his behalf.” “But do you also know what the master wanted to say to us?” asked the people. The young man nodded. “Every single word.”