Prémio Nobel da Literatura 2009: Herta Müller

«On my first day [as a kindergarden teacher], the director of the kindergarten took me to my group. As we entered the classroom, she said somewhat cryptically, "The anthem, children!" Automatically, the children sprang to attention and formed a semi-circle, hands pressed to their sides, heads back, eyes turned upwards. Little children had jumped up from their tables, but little soldiers stood in the semi-circle and sang. There was more screaming and bellowing than singing. It seemed to be the volume and standing to attention that counted. The anthem was very long, and a great many verses had been added in recent years. I think it had reached about seven verses by then. Having been unemployed for so long, I was completely out of touch and didn’t know the words to the new verses. After the last verse, the semi-circle broke open and the children started rampaging around again. The stiff little soldiers were boisterous little children once more. The director took a cane from the shelf. "You’ll need this," she said. Then she whispered in my ear and called four of the chil-dren over to her. Take a good look at them, she said, and sent the four back to their places. Then she told me that their parents or grandparents held senior functions in the party. The one little boy is the party secretary’s son, she said, so you have to be particularly careful. He can’t stand being contradicted, and you have to protect him from the others, no matter what he gets up to. Then she left me alone with the group. There were about ten canes lying on the shelf, pencil-thick switches as long as rulers. Three of them were broken into pieces.
It was snowing outside—the first big fluffy flakes to lie that year. "Let’s sing a song about winter, shall we?" I said, "Who knows a winter song?" A winter song? They didn’t know any. So I asked them for a song about summer instead. They shook their heads. Well then, how about an autumn or a spring song? At last, a little boy said he knew a song about picking flowers. They sang about grass and a meadow. So they do know a summer song after all, I thought, even if that’s not what they call it here. But it was over as soon as it had begun: after the first verse about summer, we were back to the cult of personality. In the second verse, the most beautiful of the red flowers was given to our beloved leader. In the third, our leader was happy and smiled because he loved every child in the land.
The children did not register any of the detail in the first verse—the meadow, the grass, picking the flowers. From the very first word, their singing sounded feverish, and they became increasingly over-excited. As they reached the part about the flower-giving and the leader’s smile, their singing became louder, faster, more discordant. Although the song devoted the first verse to summer, it denied the children the chance to learn about its imagery. But it also denied them the chance to learn about the act of giving. Ceausescu would often pick up children and hold them in his arms – but these children had spent several days in quarantine first to make sure they had no infectious diseases. The song required the children to suspend their critical faculties. And this was how they kept the kindergarten under control.»

[Excerto de A Good Person is Worth as Much as a Piece of Bread, por Herta
Müller, laureada com o Prémio Nobel para Literatura 2009. A autora foi publicada em Portugal pela Difel e Cotovia]