Thursday, June 8, 2017

An encounter with a mysterious stranger, by Kateřina Nazarčuková

An encounter with a mysterious stranger
This story is about a young girl from Brno who meets a strange visitor and thanks to her she realizes that she is proud of being a citizen of Brno.

It was a cold winter Saturday morning. I got up early and went to the city centre to meet my friend Jane. At eight o´clock I was already on Česká Street. I wanted to buy things that I needed before the meeting. Jane and I were supposed to spend the day together. I was so happy and looking forward to that. Unfortunately, Jane called me and cancelled our day.  I was already in the centre so I decided to run some errands in the House of Lords of Lipá. I was waiting for an elevator when I suddenly heard some heavy noise. It was strange. I went towards that sound. The banging was stronger and stronger. I entered a lonely room forgotten by time and opened a rotten old wooden box. A young girl about my age climbed out of it. She had a long blond straight hair and she was tall and lean.
“Oh, thank you very much,” she said.
“You´re welcome,” I answered, “And what were you actually doing there?” I asked.
“I´d like to answer you but I do not know,” she said.
“You dunno?” I wondered
She looked like she wasn´t from here right at the first glance.
“Where are you from?” I inquired
“I´m from Cammer, capital city of Khross colony,” she answered.
“What? I don´t know anything like that,” I said
It crossed my mind that she is maybe crazy. Well, what kind of person would hide in the box anyway?
“What is this place? Where am I?” she kept asking, confused.
“In Brno. The House of Lords of Lipá,” I answered, even though something was telling me she would have no idea.
“Brno? Brno? Brno!” she kept repeating “No! No! No!” she shouted. “This city is not in the Empire.”
“No, that´s not,” I nodded without knowing what was she talking about.
“Oh, I am sorry. Where are my manners?” she said after short while “My name is Aria Trylla.” She smiled in the way it scared me.
“I´m Lucy, Lucy Novak,” I introduced myself. “You must be cold.” I said. She was wearing just a short dress and there were two degrees of Celsius outside.
“Yes, I am freezing,” she trembled.
“Let´s go buy some clothes!” I invited her.
We went out. The wind was blowing. Aria was looking around. She seemed to be really excited.
“This is beautiful,” she said.
“Really?” I asked ironically.
“That architecture, those wonderful houses and columns. A place where the modern meets the old good times,” she admired.
But I didn´t see that beauty that she was waxing about. Maybe everyday passing by these monuments took out their prettiness of my eyes.
We went to the nearest shop and bought a warm coat and shoes, a hat and a scarf. Aria was a very interesting person. I´ve never met someone like her in my entire life. She was only sixteen years old but she acted as an adult person. She behaved like a smart strong thirty-year-old woman strengthened by life. Spending time with her was such an experience! When we left the shop she said to me full of thirst for knowledge: “Show me your city please!”
I didn´t know if it was because I didn´t have anything to do at the moment or because of the fact that she, wherever she was from, was so exciting and filled me with a sort of a strange feeling. It was like in a dream. Like when something amazing and scary in the same time is about to happen. I said YES…
At first, we went through Rašínová Street right to the saint James´s church.
“This building is fascinating. What do you use it for?” she asked me.
“This is church,” I said. “People go in there and pray to God. It´s a Christian building.”
“Christian?” she wondered
I explained it all to her. She told me that in her world they believed only in science, facts and technology. All religions in there were forbidden and forgotten. All the old buildings were demolished and replaced by new modern skyscrapers.
“It´s like the history has disappeared from my world,” she said wistfully.
She was curious about the “impolite tiny man” on the wall. I related her the legend about how the high class from the upper cathedral of saint Peter and Paul didn´t like the high class from lower saint James´s church. She really liked it.
We were walking around the church for a few minutes and then went inside. Aria was going round in the entire building. She really liked the interior. The high columns, tall windows, Christian statues and all those little details on everything. We were sitting there on wooden chairs for a while. Places like this, their mightiness and wonderfulness, makes think about your life, about your purpose in here.
Then we went through the Česká Street to Freedom Square. The street full of different kinds of shops and full of people reminded her home. All those crowds of people made us feel uncomfortable and so tiny. But when we went back to the Freedom Square, all our troubles disappeared. It was beautiful there and not just for Aria but for me as well. It was winter that meant there were markets. Tens of little sweet wooden houses placed all over the square. In each one you could find something to drink, eat or amazing homemade little things. We spent two hours there. We were walking round slowly, stopped at each little house. We bought three Trdelník - one with cinnamon, one with almond and one with coconut. Then we wanted to drink something and bought two hot chocolates. Aria also bought her a really nice metal necklace. I could see happiness in her eyes. It was like the ghost of Brno Christmas entered both of us. I enjoyed it there too. I always loved those markets. I went there with my family almost every year. Yes, there were a lot of people, but it was always worth it.
After that our little “adventure” could continue. I wanted to take her to cathedral of saint Peter and Paul. When I saw how she liked saint James´s church, can you imagine how she would like this sight? We went through Masarykova Street to Main train station. She didn´t like it there, neither did I. It was dirty, lots and lots of people travelling on holiday or just home. It was so loud and busy. It was like the spirit of Brno´s beautifulness left our bodies. I never liked it there. Too many people for me. I always thought it was a shame. Such a great, nice building within the centre of noise and dirt. But all those uncomfortable feelings disappeared I front of the breathtaking cathedral. This high fantastic building made us feel so small and unimportant but passionate and great at the same time. Again, Aria was all fascinated. She never saw such a gorgeous and monumental construction in all her life. She couldn´t breathe for one tiny moment. She kept asking me about the cathedral. She wanted to know who built it and when. From what material it is. I realized that even as person who was living in this city for sixteen years, I didn´t know that. I didn´t know anything about it. I felt ashamed. I never thought about it, never discovered that I knew  such a little information about city I lived in.
We entered. High roof, wooden chairs, Christian statues, detailed decorated walls and windows. Being there woke a sweet, warm feeling within us. The feeling like we could do anything, like all the great world lay at our fees. It made us want to fly…
We were sitting there, drunk of that mightiness. We felt blessed and fortunate for being there.
After twenty minutes we realized that we are a bit hungry. We needed to go somewhere to eat. We went to the tea house where we got lovely warm tee and something tasty to eat. It was really nice there. We spent about an hour inside. We were comparing our worlds, what we liked and what we didn´t and our cities as well. We were talking and laughing and it seemed like it were hours. We had a great time. It was interesting how two such a different people from different world could understand each other.
“I like your city Lucy,” said Aria
“Yeah, it´s pretty awesome,” I said.
I was slowly realizing how beautiful Brno could be if you aren´t in stress and hurry, if you just stop for a while. Yes, some people are nice, some aren´t but that would be same in any time and any city or world. Everyday life can make things seem to us so basic even when they are not. It was strange how just one person in not even a whole day could change my view of the world, my opinion on things that became over time ordinary to me. I realized that I liked my city so much, even with those things that I hate about it. There are some days when I am angry and can´t wait to go home but still, I LIKE IT.
After this snack, we went to the supermarket. I wanted to show her that it isn´t just about homemade nice things, food and good tea. I wanted her to see that we are a consumer world as well. But even though she liked it there. She was happy about everything. She bought some basic vegies and fruits, that she found very interesting. If I was her I would be enjoying every detail, too. In her world, they dictate the people what to eat and wear. No freedom of decision to make them deal with ordinary things. They are forced to focus on science and knowledge rather than go shopping or taking a walk. I don´t understand how she could live there. I wouldn´t be able to live, study and raise my children in a world like that. I guess it´s because she was born into a world like this, she didn´t know how it could be different.
After our time in the supermarket we went in the Deitrichstein Palace on Green Market. There were many expositions of the Moravian Land Museum. I knew that she was from the world more developed than ours but I thought that maybe she could find interesting something about Moravian history and I was right. They didn´t have museums in Cammer. Even though their world was based on knowledge they teach just from book not real life.
“We are here in school going to museums and theatres and stuff like that,” I told her.
“Wow, that must be very interesting,” she said.
In the Palace we saw different types of fossils, skeletons of dinosaurs. We read about prehistorical seas here in Moravia, plants and animals. There was also a modern video projection about how the Earth arised and all kinds of instructive material.
Then Aria wanted me to take her in the Theatre because she had never been there. I took her to  my flat to change our clothes to formal. Fortunately nobody was home at the moment. It would be difficult to explain where I took my new friend.
Wearing the nice long dresses we went to the Mahen Theatre to see Romeo and Juliet. Aria was really touched by this play. She never saw such a love story. Her world had no culture. No books (just those about science), no museums, no theatres. But Brno was full of culture I thought. So many theatres for example like Mahen Theatre, Janáček Theatre or Goose on a String Theatre. We had here also a lot of concerts in Sono or Vodova Hall. I thought that there was some culture action in Brno everyday.
From the theatre we went direct to the Špilberk Castle. In my opinion being in Brno and didn´t see it was like you even weren´t there. At the moment there was a “Great War” exposition about the World War I. There were so many period artefacts. Visitors could learn the reasons, progress and results of the war in detail. Also to understand the effect that it had on Brno. Aria knew the war very well. There were so many of them in her world. The modern technology and advanced weapons caused three or five wars per year there. It was a disaster. I couldn´t imagine that.
“If our people had these primitive weapons maybe there won´t be any wars,” she laughed.
We saw old weapons and pictures of soldiers. It was like the history spoke to us. We both saw how people could be cruel to each other. All those faces of the innocent people and those who took their lives. It was a deep moment.
It was about six p.m. and outside there was already dark. We saw all the interesting expositions and went out. There was a beautiful sight of Brno at night opening before our eyes. It seemed as if the city came to live and what´s more one could feel it.
“I really enjoyed this day with you, thank you, Lucy,” said Aria.
“Yeah, you´re welcome. I really enjoyed it with you too,” I smiled.
Suddenly we heard some noise. It were fireworks. They exploded in the sky right upon our heads in so many different bright colours. People of Brno were standing there with happiness in their faces watching the show. They shouted and laughed. They looked satisfied with calling themselves the true citizens of Brno.
“This is wonderful. I love fireworks,” she admired.
“Me too,” I answered.
“You´re really fortunate to live here,” she told me.
“Yes I am truly lucky to be born here,” I realized.
We were quietly watching the shining skies. I wanted to thank her for everything but I suddenly turned to her and she was already gone. Till today I still don´t know If it was a dream or not. I will miss her, but who knows maybe one day we will see each other again. After that, my life came back to normal but wasn´t the same. Every time I went to the city centre I remembered Aria. Those tiny everyday things didn´t seemed so ordinary anymore.
Anyway, my new friend taught me a lot. I hope once I would be able to thank her. What I´ve learned was that even sometimes it doesn´t look like that I am glad to live here in Brno. There are so many nice and friendly people. Lots of monumental sights and places full of culture. There may be things that I don´t like but nothing is ever perfect. It is my city and it always will be…

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