When talking about Prague, you will inevitably remember Vladimir Holan who simply knows everything about the people and places in this crowded city. He knows what it means for the Russians to occupy your country with the joyful support of some nationals.
Vladimir was born out of Prague and further spent his childhood away from it. He returned to it to seek education and to die alone. In 1968, he was crowned as the source of revolution that seeks to liberate the city before the Russian T56 tanks invaded Czech’s capital and crushed the newborn hopes of freedom.
He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was known as the Czech Mallarmé. He faced pursuit and siege and wandered in Prague’s street surrounded by the authority’s threat. His pain-rich poems highlighted the hidden phases of suffering.
I should have looked for the photographs of Josef Koudelka, the famous Czech photographer in the country, who was known by his shots that reflect Prague’s spring. Koudelka’s last exhibition was called “The Wall” and showed panoramic photographs that were taken all along the separation wall in Palestine.
When you hit the Old Town Square, you will drown in details; you will stand in the middle of it to see the long delusive line that separates the Eastern and Western parts of Europe. You will be in the heart, exactly in the heart of Europe, and the heart of the city that looked calm during these days.
On the streets, you will see people like an elderly woman who sells old magazines; as though the woman embodied one of Holan’s poems. This old woman was once a lady who lived Prague’s spring and suffered from struggles caused by both communism and capitalism.
*Prague’s clock, Timing of Naught
It is one of the most renowned mysterious clocks ever, surrounded by silence and crowds at the same time. Historical resources note that this clock has made its first appearance in 14 October 1410.
By the time I was gazing at the clock from the bottom, I heard an Arabic voice, the voice of an Iraqi doctor who lives in Prague explaining for his kids how the clock works; we talked and he told me that the king who has established it rewarded the designer by poking out his eyes so he can never design a similar clock in another city!
At this point, Holan’s suffering and mourning reached their peak in a space that’s packed by solitude and foreignness.