Watch Out For – (Wenckheim VIII)

It’s not that I don’t understand why a person has to die, but rather, I don’t understand why a person has to live, Baron Béla Wenckheim pondered,…

So begins this short chapter in Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming. It is a chapter about disruptions.

First, there is the disruption of space by time:

…where the train station used to be, there still stood a train station; […] — it’s just that these were not the same train stations, main roads, hospitals, castles, or chateaus, they just happened to stand in exactly the same spot where the old ones used to be; they weren’t the old ones, they were new, they were different, they were strange, and they — now that the scales had fallen from his eyes — they left him completely cold,…

How one experiences the return to one’s birth place after years of exile can vary. I have felt Wenckheim’s coldness, but also the opposite, and yet another, rather strange sensation of duplicity in which the exile becomes a second layer over the older home, so that one has the feeling to be at two different places at the same time.

So Wenckheim plots his own death, insists to be taken to the forest, follows the rails to the train station from where he wants to return by train, has carefully memorized the train schedule, and looks for a suitable curve that would make it impossible for the train to stop in time.

While waling between he tracks and waiting and pondering his question from the beginning, Wenckheim is disrupted by a flock of deer – their unquestioned existence proves his own question meaningless. But maybe too late.

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