If you take photographs through a prism, you can turn people into ghosts. I’d taught Jamie that this year, my eighteenth year of life, and possibly my last. Whenever a bad memory crept into my brain, I held a prism up to it, and it would distort and soften. That way I could cope with it a bit better.
There were other memories, though, of which I wanted to remember every last detail. They gave me something to hold onto. Because one day soon, I knew, I might not wake up.
At the airport, Kerry noticed a sign warning visitors to allow more time for their journeys on New Zealand roads. The sign included a picture of said roads, apparently drawn by a person with a partiality for Scalextric tracks made entirely from the curved parts.
‘A blatant exaggeration’ had been Kerry’s thought then. Two days later, on the hill heading over to Gabriel’s Bay, his thought was ‘What the infernal hell?’
When you hear the following words, what do you think of? Wagon wheels, Manhattans and run worms. If you answered ‘cocktails’, that’d be optimistic, but incorrect. These words are all types of graphical reports you can get when watching the game of cricket. These words are all types of graphical reports you can get when watching the game of cricket.
Antaeus was a giant, or rather a semi-giant of sorts, the literal son of Mother Earth, Gaea, and Poseidon, the god of the sea.He had a strange occupation, which consisted of forcing passersby in his country, (Greek) Libya, to wrestle; his thing was to pin his victims to the ground and crush them. This macabre hobby was apparently the expression of filial devotion; Antaeus aimed at building a temple to his father, Poseidon, using for raw material the skulls of his victims.
Viktor is sick. It means this morning I have to do the feeding out. First, I chop some kindling for the woodburner in the dining room and take it up the stairs with the basket of wood. The air in the dining room still smells of last night. Roast chicken, laughter. A few table tops need to be wiped.
In the kitchen I boil the eggs, switch on the urn. The kitchen is uncomfortably shiny at this hour. My reflection too blurry to see myself properly.
I can’t imagine going back to hell without Magda. “Fly to Kraków tonight,” I beg Magda the next morning from the phone in the Hotel zum Türken lobby. “Please come back to Auschwitz with me.”
I wouldn’t have survived without her. I can’t survive returning to our prison now unless she is beside me, holding my hand. I know it’s not possible to relive the past, to be who I used to be, to hug my mother again, even once. There is nothing that can alter the past, that can make me different from who I am, change what was done to my parents, done to me. There is no going back. I know this. But I can’t ignore the feeling that there is something waiting for me in my old prison, something to recover. Or discover. Some long-lost part of me.
I often think to myself that so many different films could share a single title: The Last Hours of Their Lives. Only the characters never know this, and hurtle along with a truly moving degree of unawareness and vigour, doing both significant and trivial things as usual in the full expectation of living forever.
My brother and I are with our dad at Howrah station to meet our grandmother off the train, but have learnt upon getting here that it’s running two hours late. Which is certainly not enough time to return home, and Baba doesn’t think it’s even worth heading back as far as Esplanade or Park Street for some kind of snack or treat. It will probably take half an hour getting there, crawling along Brabourne Road, and then we’ll have to come back. Let’s see what there is to eat at the station instead.