Monday, 2 January 2012
A new story for the new year...
It is 2pm.
You are drunk.
You are wearing a skirt.
The stripper is not wearing a skirt.
Today’s light is the colour of anaemic sunshine, and the remnants of countless smoked cigarettes appear to shade the sky. The Square’s medieval structures and cobbled streets hold an air of disdain, their moodiness tangible all around. From on high, The National Museum looms imposingly, the city’s guardian, remembering, observing, disapproving. A million ghosts jar with a thousand tourists.
Emet wraps the scarf tighter around his neck and unties the ear flaps of his hat. Sat on a wooden bench, he wiggles his legs up and down on top of glove-less hands, small bones chilled by November winds. He watches goose bumps form on hairy white legs belonging to a man in a pink tutu. The man’s knees tremble.
It is 6pm.
You are drunk.
You are eating a mustard smothered sausage from a stand.
You shout yes to the salesperson's offer of hot wine.
Dusk dissolves the light into a shady version of itself. A square removed; crowds of camera clad people gaze up at a clock tower. The hour strikes and their cameras click, capturing rickety disappointment. Gothic peaks pierce inky expanse, their spot-lit bodies projecting faint pools of light down onto cold stone.
The little boy visits the shop to pick up some chocolate bars. The weathered Loew's Store sign hangs above the doorway, translated for tourists. His dad insists on the big coat and gloves. Less mobile but cosy, and later he finds a paper wrapped pastry in the left pocket. Leaning against a market stall he eats whilst people watching, his gaze settling on a slowly assembling tour group. The tutu-clad man is amongst them, swaying and singing, his yells crushing the quieter, hushed voices all around. He has a can of cider in hand. His friends laugh as he bumps into scarf wrapped locals struggling to hurry past. Emet’s eyes narrow. His shoulders become rigid.
It is 8pm.
You are drunk.
You are staggering through a walking tour of the city's Jewish Quarter.
You need the toilet but there are no bars around. You find a quiet spot.
Pallid grey stones tangle with pallid grey stones in an undulating labyrinth of memorial. The headboards of the dead rest above the city's ground level, raised high by residents' grandfathers and grandmothers and their grandmothers and grandfathers. The tour guide has led the group to the Jewish Sector entrance, where a giant stone statue stands. Emet watches. He can hear her words in the distance, and recites along in whispered tones. He can also see the man, who has fallen away from the group, his friends too drunk to notice, the guide counting on her young friend.
Emet tastes bile in his mouth as he watches the man urinate in the shadows, desecrating the deceased. He grits his teeth and begins to whisper again, a different recital this time, his own name, over and over, over, and over, over and over.
It is 9pm.
You are sober.
A gargantuan shadow looms over you, blackening even the darkness.
You feel searing pain in your head. Nobody can hear your screams.
The group gather patiently around the guide to hear the end of tour tale, oblivious to nearby events.
“In the 16th century, during the reign of Rudolf II, an old man named Rabbi Judah Loew lived in Prague. It was a time when the city's Jewish people lived in fear of attack. Rabbi Loew decided to protect the Jews by creating the Golem, a giant who, according to the Cabala, could be made of clay from the banks of the Vltava. The Golem was built following prescribed rituals, the Rabbi bringing him to life by reciting a special incantation in Hebrew. The word "emet", meaning "truth", was placed on the Golem's forehead.
The Golem obeyed the Rabbi's every order, protecting the people of the Jewish Ghetto. However, as he grew bigger, he became violent, killing non-Jews and spreading fear. Violence against the Jews was promised to stop if the Golem was destroyed, to which Rabbi Loew agreed. By removing the first letter from the word "emet", and changing to "met" - meaning "death" - life was taken out of the Golem.
But the story does not end there. Rabbi Loew's son, according to legend, brought the golem back to life some years later, and it is rumoured he is still protecting Prague today...”
Only the little boy, listening from afar as he always does, notices the satisfied glint in the tour guide's eye.