Harvest of Gems

Prague - Calcutta - Auschwitz


The train had Russian markings.
My companion was a scared former East German kid dressed uncomfortably and staring at the pages of a cheap paperback. My companion did not utter a single word and skipped out near Dresden. An ugly town even at night. The Czech border appeared suddenly and the uniforms changed. The ugly industrial blight did not however.

"The Czech Republic," I murmured to myself. "Sounds like some kind of breakfast cereal." It was dark and lonely outside the moving window. I wasn't sure what to expect in Prague. All I knew for sure was that it was IMPORTANT. The train dumped me off at Holesovic station, a miserable dump by any measurable standard. Freshly washed, permanently dirty floors greeted me and I refused all taxi offers. I was determined not to get ripped off this early on my trip. I waited for the subway to open and eventually it did. Bleary-eyed, I trudged onward, the home-stretch was near. In this early morning bardo, I found my little angel. When German Yuppies die they go to Potsdam, but where do Czech yuppies go? Prague was beautiful, but also filthy for most kinds of yuppies. The smell of burning rubber attacked my nostrils in the early and dank hours of the morning. I was lost .... Apple's confusing instructions had screwed me up. I left my luggage at a hotel and wandered through the Karlin section of Prague.

I kept a journal of each day in my mind:
Day One:
I found her at last. Summer is a perfect goddess. Perfect features and perfect skin. An exotic mix of Swedish and French. Summer's boyfriend, who helped me haul my luggage up the stairs, seemed like a basket-case. But Summer, oh, she cares about everything in principle; she belongs to the world and there is nothing she can do about it. The karma is very heavy between us. We were like magnets zeroing in on one another. I set up my altar and fell asleep after puja. When I awoke, I found myself alone with Summer.

Summer had put a white shirt over her black bra and stood next to the window smoking a cigarette. She looked very thin and sick.
Summer's skin was ivory pale. She was also nervous. "What do you think about the Czechs?" I asked, sitting on the floor. "Oh, one third are saints, one third are OK, and the rest are utterly hopeless," she uttered with an air of insecure authority. I can't recall the rest of the conversation in detail, other than this little angel lived wildly and had multiple health problems. A miscarriage and an eleventh-hour abortion had hurt her more than she cared to admit. Asthma as a child, heart and circulatory problems, and fibroids in her reproductive plumbing tested my attraction to her for only a few seconds. I was not slobbering and drooling, however. There was something holy here. Our bond was ancient. We felt comfortable as we slowly began to recognize each other for the first time in these particular bodies.
Summer's frame was long and sleek, the word athletic came to mind, but also the word dancer could have applied. I examined her long and tapering fingers. Summer's arms were long as well. Her breasts were small. Her feet dainty and erotic. I kept getting this image of a benign spider. Summer had protruding collar bones that screamed to be steered like handle-bars on a bicycle. I then asked her if her red hair, which hung slightly above her shoulders was her natural hair. "No, I dye it," she confessed with a little guilt. Summer wore contacts, which concealed her bookish nature and exposed her pale and translucent blue eyes. If looks could kill, Summer would be in the slammer for life.

Summer was only eighteen, but seemed emotionally advanced for her tender years. She came from a broken home. She was a complete creature of the Third Wave. Summer had basically only herself. Somehow, around the fourth grade, she had dropped out of school and been tutored at home like a spoiled princess. There was also a certain savoir faire to my little angel. She had a ready knowledge of what to say and how to say it. Summer had also studied acting at a very young age. This could have had something to do with it. Modeling seemed to bore her, though.
"Would you like to go out later?" she inquired. I decided not to care. What was important now was to be with her every possible second. The signal from San Francisco she had sent had brought me to Prague; finally I had carefully and slowly pulled it like a thread. It was time to explore our past. I also sensed danger, but not to myself.

Day Two:
Prague is beautiful, but stagnant. It's denser and more compact than Berlin. It's in the middle of a European cauldron. Summer had come back to heal, and possibly to die in her old ancestral home. For she was a sorceress who understood alchemy and was not afraid of it. Summer's boyfriend was a crazed concubine. Somewhere in the past, someone had taken everything away from him; he was browbeaten and angry. He was out to get back everything he had lost; and there was no end to this loss; and I knew this would drag on forever. Summer knew this and tolerated it. She also knew she deserved more than this, but was too sick to live alone. Summer had dragged this poor man-child all the way from San Francisco. They were officially a couple, but Summer was biding her time now, waiting for her salvation in a patient and disciplined manner.
It was during this time that I started shooting off rolls of film with my cheap and collapsing Olympus camera. Summer's photogenic pull was irresistible. These photo sessions were our first puja. Summer was well-sculpted by nature. Our new alignment had now started to move. Every act was an act of love. Prague's timeless cobblestone alleys were our private garden path. The countless spires and steeples hung like backdrops to an unknown play. Summer and I posed for a photo on the Charles Bridge. I felt as if we were already married.

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