The courtyard is as quiet as it seemingly always is these days. There are no lights on in any of the windows, no human sounds. I wonder who we are, mice, living in the throbbing, leaking heart of a big city, where foreigners come to dance and stumble their way along our doors rowdily, bringing life into our sullen little quarters. Demanding it.
They’ve all gone to sleep now. Sunday, four p.m., we who are the tenants of the other side creep out of our holes and merely nod at each other in passing. Sometimes not even that. Sometimes, our heads are already bent down so low it is impossible to push them further. I do my best. At least, I think it does not go unnoticed – my smile.
Gloomy Sunday, the rhythm of the Jewish Quarter’s failing step. I always tell the story of that song to strangers who have come to visit, my only justification. No, I do not know the statues and the streets as well as I would like, I do not glide easily across the many bridges without some concern as to which side of the river I will wash out on. But I know this tune, you see – this is what I tell my friends. I understand the city more than I know it, and hope it is enough to grant me some absolution. I may not recognize its face, but I can sure hear its heart.
Except, that is, on Sundays. On Sundays, even the long-time residents become the foreigners. They keep out of sight, and out of hearing. Wasn’t it Leonard who once said, light seeps through the cracks – that being broken is the only way toward knowledge? Light. There’s none to be found here in my little hole in the ground, the patch of sky I can see is not dark, but distinctly refuses to be of any determined shade of blue. Encumbered in my lack of color and sound, I sit on the unmade couch and my mind goes along with its twilight. My own heart is cracked, alright, but still no light comes through.
It’s times like these Sundays, when I wish I could travel back to him, my master of sound who saves the silence from itself. He doesn’t know how to be foreign, not like I do, he doesn’t allow any city to consume him. The decrepit buildings do not scare him, he cares not for what day it is or if people around him whisper. He doesn’t know how to be other, his laughter cannot be quenched by rainy days. He has no need of how or why, as I do. Things are self-evident and plain in the cacophony of his thoughts, while mine are ordered into still, rigid hierarchies. Nothing screams at me from within the pews of my mind.
Nothing, save the melody. I have become familiar with the silence around me, the heart of which I now live in. But he is somewhere within that melody, too, and the melody is what gets in through the cracks, and now hear, no – I am not alone. It is but a different modality, one I have failed to consider.
Living silently on the outside is, perhaps, what makes me an insider in this city most of all.