Trail of blood
Early morning and we are off to Italy while I am excitedly but softly humming: La donna é mobile, Qual piuma al vento, muta d’accento, e di pensiero, …. Ahh my beloved Verdi and his Rigoletto. I can hardly keep myself from bursting forth in full volume: SEMPRE UN AMABILE, LEGGIADRO VISO ….. We travel, me and my moron and his companions. Not like the fool Perceval on a quest for the Holy Grail, but more like bloodhounds, nose to the ground on the bloody trail of murderous men.
First stop Pischiera, that benighted little town on Lake Gerda. Long past her splendour, with her drawbridges used for keeping barbarians out, now permanently down and tarred over, inviting a new breed of barbarians into her fold. The moat and massive protective wall around the inner city is still intact, but now serve as beautification and curiosity respectively. But the wall still remembers its bloody past. It still remembers the war cries of the defenders and the counter cries of the bloodthirsty attackers. It still remembers the cries of the wounded and dying. It still remembers the putrid smell of blood and the desperate cries of war prisoners being tortured in the prison deep inside its innards. Once a proud wall, playing its part in the violent history of a moronic humanity. Today it is a sad wall with no function, only nightmarish memories.
Late that afternoon my traveling companions were sitting in the shade of the wall, laughthing and drinking wine, and eating pizzas. They were having a good time celebrating their trip to Europe. I was furious. Have they no shame? I shouted at them at the top of my voice: Do you not smell the blood? Do you not hear the desperate, terror filled cries of woman and children amidst the roar of battle embedded in this very wall, in the soil at your feet?
And what did I get back in replay? From the table next to us, a discussion on the aesthetics of the sword, and the fine art of swordsmanship. Even the crude old metal shield became, to their bemudled brains, a thing of beauty! Instead of an intelligent discussion on the morality of war, I got a passionate technical overview on the merit of the crossbow over and against the conventional bow and arrow and how the crossbow was the predecessor of the modern missile. I wanted to cry. I wanted to puke. I shouted: But people were being brutally butchered, and for what!
So they turned to the exciting topic of the enemy scaling the walls, and the defenders pouring boiling tar on their heads from above. They considered this for a while, and to my relief I noticed the faintest signs of distaste to this barbaric practice … and then they decided that molten iron would have done a better job! I almost fainted.
They drank a toast on this brilliant idea, and then started discussing the next day’s excursion to Verona, city of the scandalous Scaligeri family and the besotted Romeo and his beautiful, stupid Juliet.
Yes, true to form these bi-pedalled excuse for a life form blunders ahead, knowing all the answers, but like Perceval, they do not know the question. They stumble onto holy ground and into holy abodes blabbering and drinking and having a good time while the Holy Grail is sitting right in front of their eyes, but they cannot see it even if it is paraded up and down for their benefit. Afterwards they have this vague feeling that they missed something, even something very important, but they blunder onwards into the dark forest of their emaciated lives.
Forwards to Verona with me humming: Libiamo, libiamo ne’lieti calici, … the drinking song from Verdi’s La Traviata. How I love these passionate Italians!