a glowing person falling from the sky,
leaving no traces,
the sound of leaves
rustling in the wind.
the other day, the day i came back from bayern, i arrived in berlin. i was going to go out zum einkaufen [grocery]. i was walking on the gehweg [pavement]. when suddenly, i saw a person graciously flying through the air. almost like a bird, arms extended, puffed up with pride, almost as if it were choreographed. for a split second it looked like a performance. as if someone was doing a theatre play. as if there were strings attached, like a bungee jump. but soon i realised, that there were no strings attached. the person, so graciously being airborne for two seconds, was about to hit the ground. i realised that they would die. i realised that this was deliberate, that it was their choice to jump from the fifth storey.
i covered by eyes and face in awe, thinking that i was dreaming. they hit the ground about 100m in front of me. i sank to the ground, not knowing what to do, and knowing that there was nothing i could do. this person had chosen to die, it was well planned, choreographed a zillion times in their fantasies, so what is there to do. i cried and cried. some people came flocking around to check on them. someone climbed out of the window from the ground floor and jumped out to see if there was anything to do. still crying and in shock, i pulled out my phone and called 110. it took me 30 seconds or 1 minute until i could talk to somebody. i said that there was a person who jumped from the balcony. i told them where i am. i didn’t know the name of the street i was in, so i tried to explain what was nearby. they told me there’s already someone underway. i said thank you and hung up.
the tears didn’t stop. it was to real and surreal. this was my scenario, in a way. this was how i imagined to die so many times. it was me standing up there, on the balcony of the fifth storey, gazing down in fascination. letting my mind wander. but i never jumped. i imagined to jump, and when i was finished imagining, i was back standing up there, so i would do it again and again. it never occurred to me to actually jump. but what’s the difference anyway?
one person walking past me asked if everything was ok. nothing was ok, so i nodded. another person asked me “hast du den typen gesehen? [did you see the guy?]” i nodded. ‘den typen [the guy]’, hell are you out of your mind, i thought. someone just died in our very presence and you refer to this person as ‘typ’?? as if it was some bothersome person? donchu have a bit of dignity left for them? then again… the person’s dead so who cares anyway.
ambulance stared to arrive. sirens were loud. there was no need to hurry for them any way. person in question’s dead. they were already dead when they were airborne. they were already dead when they decided to jump. there’s no definable beginning of their death. perhaps even, the moment they were conveiced and they grew in someone’s belly was the true beginning of their death. there are no what-if-realities in reality. things happen just the way they happen. and there’s nothing anyone could have done.
one of the ambulance people approached me. “did you witness the incident?” he asked in a rather rough tone. still unable and unwilling to speak, i just nodded. “would you be willing to share your witness report with the police?” i was baffled by that question. hey, hello! donchu see my eyes are about to burst, there’s plenty of tear water standing in line to pour out of my eyelids, no matter how hard i press them together. “später” i said. what i actually meant was ‘to hell with your bureaucracy, the whole universe just imploded, did you miss it?’. the ambulance person said something else after that, probably informing me about the fact that i could seek psychological help, but i had already shut down in anger and agony. “gehen sie weg bitte! [please go away now]” i said. “soll ich jetzt wegtreten? [shall i step away now?]” the person responded in a formal, emotionless tone. “ja” i responded. the person complied.
during the whole conversation, someone was patting my back. i didn’t look who is was, i just felt it was a warmhearted person. i would later learn that his name was Cody and that, he too, had been standing up there gazing down many times, that, he too, had witnessed a person falling down from the skies. the person hit the ground right next to him, and it was the most violent thing he had ever seen, he would tell me later on.
some minutes passed. there was another person who had sat down next to me on the ground. i would later learn that her name was Alex and that she lived toghether with Cody in the same block i did. she asked me if i needed anything, offering me a cigarette. nein danke. i was still sobbing, unable to grasp the situation. “hast du gesehen wie er gesprungen ist? [did you see how he jumped?]” she asked. “ja… wie ein vogel. aus eigenem willen. [yes… like a bird. out of his own will.]”
in a peculiar way, it was me who jumped. my skull was broken and my legs hurt, because i deliberately fell down from the balcony. i was full of adrenaline, full of enjoyment of being airborne, falling to my death that i had wished for, for so long. i was zoning out into a warm dreamy world where nothing mattered. where nothing had ever mattered. where everything was just a dream in itself. feeling and perceiving where there in reality was nothing to feel and to perceive. i could feel the warm blood pouring out of my nose and my ears. there was no pain. only the illusion of accomplishment. of finally having done something that fully came from myself and that fully was for my own satisfaction. it was my death, and mine alone.
what an illusion. to think that anything could be accomplished when one dies. i’m so used to switching off the radio when i don’t like what’s being said. so used to switching to a different activity when what i’ve been doing had become boring. so used to switch jobs, relationships, towns once anything had grown sour on me. it’s just logical that the same could be done to one’s living organism. to shut it down in an attempt to end it. it’s nothing more but an outgrowth of consumerism, of the illusion that who i am is my body, that the boundaries of who i am end outside the bag of skin that i’m confined to. it’s such a logical step to choose the step into gravity’s field of expertise: letting pull myself down to the concrete ground, knowing that it will end me.
but, surprise. nothing changes. bystanders were in shock. for everyone else nothing changes. people continue passing by, on foot, on bicycles, in cars. for them, it was just another ambulance car blocking the way. just another tragic incident, present in their minds for as long as it’s in visual range. like a thought image that appears once in one’s mind and disappears as if it had never existed in the first place. as if it had never happened. i felt peculiar that i live. what does it mean to live? again this question. the answer is: none. people live because they live. just as they walk because they walk. or talk because they talk. this seeming paradox had crawled so deeply into all corners of my perception. the impossibility to solve this logically or rationally felt both weird, disturbing and peaceful.
i looked to up to the scene only to see that the previously announced police officer was approaching. i reacted quickly by getting up from the ground, saying “ich muss weg [i need to go]” to Cody and Alex and dashing off. i couldn’t face the bureaucy of the police who wanted facts, who probably wanted to see my ID and ask unrelated questions just for the satisfaction of their everyday requirements.
running off from unwanted situation felt familiar. i found shelter from sight in a random entrance to an apartment building. i was sure they wouldn’t come after me. i was sure that Cody and Alex where shielding me from the police officer and just tell them what they wanted to know: that it was a deliberate jump. no one to blame, no one to prosecute. job done. so they could get back to office work, type in personal details into a form, declare the person as deceased.
it started to rain. two persons came to take shelter from the rain. they were talking about someone, probably the deceased. they were disgusting to do this. to make the whole thing a spectacular scandal story, just for them to speculate on, just for their entertainment. they were tabloid persons. i was staring at their legs. one had black tights and platau shoes. the other one didn’t. after a while Alex and Cody reappeared in front of me. as it turned out, they lived in that building. Cody asked if i needed something to drink, water or something. nein danke. Alex politely asked the two tabloid persons to kindly leave. “wohnt ihr hier? [do you live here?]” one of them asked. “ja” Alex responded. “ok, weil wenn nicht, dann hätte ich das nicht eingesehen [ok, because if you didn’t, i wouldn’t agree to leaving]” one of them became polemic, but soon left nonetheless guilt-inducingly.
the three of us were just sitting there. i couldn’t believe that they out of their own will chose to hang out with me. i didn’t know who they were, they didn’t know who i was. all we knew is that we somehow happened to be in this spot at this time together. the choreography of a flying person kept repeating in my mind over and over again. i started sobbing again. “kann ich dich fragen? [can i ask you?]” i asked Alex. “ja” – “hast du gesehen wie die person gefallen ist? [did you see how the perseon fell?]” – “nein, ich hab’s gehört. und dann bin ich hingegangen um zu sehen. aber da war nichts mehr zu machen. [no, i just heard it. then i went there in order to see, but nothing could be done.]” i nodded.
i carefully asked Alex if it was okay to perhaps ask for a cigarette at that point. she came over and sat down next to me, handing over her cigerette gear. i rolled and lit the cigarette. “die person, ja? [so, the person]” i began, “es hat ausgesehen wie choreographiert und sie ist so graziös geflogen…… es ist so komisch… dass wir leben. und ich weiß nicht, was das eigentlich bedeutet. es ist nichts passiert. überhaupt nichts. [it looked like a choreography and they were flying so graciously… it is so strange that we’re living. and i don’t know what this actually means. nothing happened. nothing at all.]”
we remained sitting in the building entrance for the rest of the evening. chatting about our experiences, about suicide, about death, about where we’re from, about how we felt. people were passing by, some with dogs, some without. people were entering into the hinterhof, some with bicycles, some without. some said hi, some didn’t. some were neighbours to Cody and Alex, some were strangers. a cat passed, then another. a hedgehog came by several times, fearlessly. it had become dark. Alex brought grappa, salzstangen, chocolate cookies and a sweater for us because it was getting cold. and some pears for the hedgehog who, in the meantime, was able to slip past us into the entrance leading to the hinterhof, disappearing into some green bushes. when the grappa was all gone, Cody was next to bring kümmelschnaps aus hamburg, aperol spritz and a pair of socks for me, because he had been observing me massaging my feet for the entire time.
the person who had fallen from the skies had my full attention in the background. i kept wondering who this person was, what their story was, and the pressing question about The Why. about the causal relationship, about the reasoning. i knew it didn’t matter, it couldn’t be changed and that there was no conclusion i could get towards to. after a last drink and a last cigarette we got up. i thanked them for their presence. we hugged briefly and warmly and went each our way. everything was as surreal as it needed to be.
the rice was ready. i had switched on the rice cooker before i left. it had long been ready. it was being kept warm the whole time. how many hours? i don’t know. the rice cooker was set to nurungji, a kind of overcooked rice where the upper part is mushy and the lower part is crispy. i brought two bowls from the kitchen. one for me to eat, and one for the deceased to be put next to an incense stick. it is a buddhist custom to offer a bowl of rice on an altar, with the chopsticks inserted vertically. i didn’t have an altar, but this was the closest i could get to. the amount of rice in the bowl i set up was too small for the chopsticks to remain vertical. they skewed over to the sides but stayed inside the bowl, resembling a person slowly extending their arms as an act of letting go of a balcony railing.
i sat down on the floor and ate plain nurungji. the part that’s supposed to be crispy had already turned mushy in the meantime. the music and voices from the hinterhof entered through the window as always. everyone on their own track. everyone in their own rhythm and consciousness.
wind blows. leaves rustle.