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Portrait of Claudia Erdheim
by Nina Werzhbinskaja-Rabinowich

Have You Gone Mad?

Bist du wahnsinnig geworden?

Sample Text

She cut my fingernails too short and took me with her to the cinema. To the CINEMA – a place of utter crudeness! She took me to visit strangers in public housing – to strangers! Who live in public housing of all places. The people who live there are dumb and crude people. Neglected bums. Criminals. And the way they speak! They say brushin’ ye teefs instead of brushing your teeth. That’s really enough; everything that is proper; it’s just not possible anymore. The last nanny was let go. I’m only five. It happened in the dining room, the room that has been the dining room since my grandparents lived here. My mother is roaring, the girl is crying and I wet myself. It actually was nice at the cinema and public housing! The nanny was such a lovely girl; she wasn’t a criminal. She had finished school and had even studied medicine for a little while.

No one can speak to my mother now. She’s constantly calling out: be quiet, leave me be, don’t make me anxious. I have to get myself ready now. Sit down on the divan and be quiet. Where are the hundred schilling? Where is the invoice? Where did that klutz put the shoes? She is constantly running from one room to the next. She can’t find her scarf; someone must be to blame. We’re leaving soon; put on your coat. We never actually leave soon, but I put my coat on anyway. It’s finally time. She has to make sure she doesn’t lose track of the little one – she’s a lively one. She takes my hand tightly, wrapping her pinky finger around my wrist so I can’t slip away. She keeps mumbling something I can’t understand and looks straight ahead with a stern look.