THE ZURICH STORY
IN 1997 HONG KONG WILL BE INCORPORATED INTO CHINA.
Rote Fabrik, Zürich, 31.09.93.
The train was splitting my homeland in two. They had told me about her death. In Hong Kong papers I had read that Peer Gynt was accused of the murder. Later I heard he was released, although common Hong Kong opinion made him guilty.
During these years abroad I often remembered her. Now too, although I wanted to think about him - he was the one left to suffer, and I didn't care about what he'd done or not done. She smiled as I sat there, as when I was little. She'd always been a riddle. Her face as delicate as that of a Chinese, I'd heard someone say. It wasn't skinny, but soft to touch. So pale!
Such things I thought about, but he was accused of murder. It was difficult to keep quiet. Peer Gynt is innocent.
But he was a riddle too, maybe all people are so different they are impossible to understand. He was a joker, people said, he could say the most unbelievable things, and they laughed and wondered a little, but liked him. He was closer to me than to her, I think. He was the most beautiful man in Hong Kong. But something was wrong inside him. You could see it. Let's wait, he said, until we are too old to go crazy.
Another time he said, when people hurt you, it's because they are hurt themselves. I asked if that was the reason he hurt so many people, and he laughed. He was a good man. Once he saw an angel bending above his sweating body, touching his screaming mouth with the tip of his wing.
That's Hong Kong. And there is my sister. That's how she looks - not better. You would think she'd already experienced the grave. We stood for a while, not touching each other. She had his eyes, but they were too big for her face. This is more a spirit than a body, I thought.
Peer is up in the attic, she said. He very seldom comes down. He don't want to talk anymore. But from time to time he is here and talks as if nothing has happened. It scares me, isn't that natural?
He didn't answer when I knocked. Ok, he said, it's been some changes since you left. Big changes. He repeated himself a couple of times, and tapped his fingernails against the table. Smiles came and went across his face, like pain in the faces of sick people.
Yes, I said, but we don't care much about her death. She very easily slipped away. He laughed, and looked down. And let us not care about the other things, I said. He looked out. They said I had read the Bible, he said. It was a lie. Sooner or later the murderer will be found. I don't know.
People talk and shut their mouths, that's how it is. Could we change that?
No, he said, you should think about your sister. You could have talked to me. She didn't know nothing. But when you rise from bed in the blackest of nights and walk out in the damned heat, and don't remember. No. I don't want to talk.
I'm glad I'm not dead. If I only knew what he meant! It's as if he'd told me everything, everything about nothing. He laughed. I loved her, he said, you shouldn't have been there, shouldn't have seen it.
I realized that I was holding her hand. What on earth was going on? Where were my thoughts coming from? I drank. Hong Kong was paradise. Crossing over to the bird market I suddenly remembered, my first child was born in Hong Kong. The rest is silence. And what did you want? he said, last night? Nothing, really. I was so sick I didn't care about a thing. Oh no, I didn't do anything. And I won't tell you more than I know. I know I can't eat you. I've been sitting here long enough, answering.
She was an old woman. It wasn't because of her, but the murder had thrown him down into that shadowless slumber where no one really lives. Her face was a big and swollen, yellow sore. But full of wisdom and memories, was that what made it so scary?
This is my revenge, she said, I'm dying. Hong Kong is a society built on paper and opium, and it's no way out. This is a mask. No face can sleep like this. But don't ever take me serious. You can be a sailor. I had already killed her in my heart. Do you think like me? I said. No, never.
But I'm too proud to be proud. I fell. Don't tell. We didn't expect storm that night. Midsummer, no cannon, blue sky, and we had bought some very old china.
Silver. A mountain had moved in front of me. The mountain was you. You have to be alone. It's silly, you're not made for it, nobody is, but you have to be alone. I didn't do it, you say, and I'm there at once, and where have I been all my life. My head aches. One of those all the girls will remember, I said, full of Peer and Gynt.
He was different when you got close to him. A very light riddle, light in body and soul. The fish we caught was given away to some beggars. I could have danced.
Let's change faces. I am the British Empire. I ask: Do you kill time? The eyes deep in shadow. Just Menschen. It was a man who had a wife. He loved her, and didn't know anybody who could be compared to her. How it was or was not apart from that, I don't know and I don't care, anyway he woke up one night. She didn't resemble. The man was scared. Maybe I am. She went out. He followed. I was sure. It was murder. They were so close then. They are far apart now. He went to bed before she came. She stood a long time on the floor before she took her clothes off and went to bed. She didn't touch him, he heard no breathing. Suddenly she fell over. It's nothing more to say.
I know nothing. But, he said, I should have known even less. He turned his head and looked down. You should clean me from the table.
I have lived in Hong Kong. That was my fun. If you give me a gun I can shoot you in Hong Kong. Don't stay there staring into the dark. I don't open. No no no. Do you think it's ugly?
You are right. Don't lie and tell me a truth. Believe me - nobody ever saw murder. But I wanted to go home. You're the hammer on the nail.
Yes, you are the hammer on the nail. I don't know what you said. I know that it touched me. Time went. The girl came. I drank in silence. I want to get paid for this. I have blood on my hands, then I must bleed. I love it. She can talk. Continue. It was a pain in the ass, the way she was.
I didn't like what I saw.
I knew nothing, he said, you don't need to come here and tell me. Continue. In front of her eyes. You don't have to answer. She has the wrong reaction. Then it may be difficult.
I've often thought about that, I said, but it came from the heart and she didn't know. Once I was silent. This woman, she said, I had to go out that night. I didn't know what to do. I don't believe in dreams.
She smiles. I said more. No you don't, he said. Peer Gynt was dancing, without a movement, without a sound. Dancing. Night, it was like they say in Hong Kong, I am still afraid. Afraid of ghosts, myself a corpse. I have my Hong Kong. I don't know. Fuck you. Bless you. My song is murder.