Brussels – remembered?


“But what would keep bringing back those images of that particular place, repeatedly, to my spirit?” she asked her co-counsellor, who sat facing her, clutching her hands in his.

“It is important that you hold on to those images, as long as you can”, he calmly replied. “You are aware by now that such remains of memory tell us when we have had a deep experience of some kind in our lives, an event, a happening, something that impressed us, that is trying to break through to our present consciousness.”

Until now, Brbr had recalled, in a vague, disordered way, the time she believed she had lived in an area of the north western European continent, which was then called Belgium. It was an urban setting, probably the city of Brx, then known as Brussels.

…….The strongest, yet at the same time the most disjointed memory, I have is of some sort of hall or covered atrium, with a roof light and broad staircase leading down to a lower level, where people, with, apparently, nothing in common, are coming and going on foot, criss-crossing the space.

….Above the staircase is a single, stone figure, in marching pose, dressed in a coat and cap, with an inscription below, the only word of which I can decipher, is “m-o-r-t-s”.

….If it wasn’t for the scores of people walking to and fro, going about some sort of business, the whole feeling from the cool stone walls pale, flecked with black grains, would be that of a tomb or a sepulchre.

…… A female voice sounds out periodically, preceded by three chimes, repeating a list, of names, or instructions. The people look up and around, their eyes catch a large tablet on the wall above them, with white and red letters and numbers on it, which from time to time move and flutter. On hearing the words, most look indifferent or maybe smile; others frown; and a few moan and gently curse under their breath.

….. The people in the hall, toing and froing, carry bags of different sizes, shapes and materials, few are loaded though some pull behind them their luggage, on small wheels. The people are of all ages. Grey haired couples shuffle across the hall, holding hands, looking somewhat bewildered. Brighter eyed youths, invariably wearing back packs, laugh and joke and look down at tablets in their hands, which give a blue glow to their faces. A young girl stands at a corner, looking around, as if waiting for something or someone. The middle aged people seem to be in the biggest hurry to get somewhere, they look closed in their thoughts, make few gestures, but give the earnest impression they know where they are heading.

….I hear a whistle from below, down the stairs, where also a deep whir sounds out every now and again, like some sort of man-made engine, that makes a vibration as if it is rolling beneath us. Then a rush of people come up the stairs, many of them, determined, heading up and out of the hall in a strong stream.

…..Hardly anybody speaks, except the young. Most are alone, a few in couples, woman-woman, man-man, woman-man. Most wear dark, thick clothes, belted and buttoned. Blacks, greys, some browns, dark blues. The only signs of bright colour come from the bags, scarves and hats – reds, orange, yellows, white – and the lights of areas to the side, where two women, one blonde, one brunette, are sitting at a table, sipping drinks, steam rising from the paper cups in their hands.

…. Some enter another, adjacent area, illuminated brightly in red and white. They come out holding a folded wodge of paper, with writing on. On a corner are three people in a line, next to a sort of cubicle, where a dark haired man, red faced and quite aggressive looking, is cooking some food, a sort of bread or cake, which he skewers off the stove and lays in an open piece of paper, offering it to a girl, who gives some metal tokens in return.

…It was at that moment that I first got the feeling, I know where I am. The girl who had just taken the breadcake in her hand, begins walking towards me, as I stand, alone, in the middle of the hall. I realise I am cold. I feel hungry. She walks past me, biting as she does into the slightly crispy flat, almost oval-shaped breadcake in her hand. The cake is a rich bronze-yellow colour, formed in a grid-like pattern. As she bites the cake, she puts her hand to her face, puffs her cheeks and blows a short, hollow breath, as if the cake is too hot to keep in her mouth.

…The odour of the breadcake drifts towards me. It is sweet and aromatic, a comforting, milky warmth. My mouth waters, then my stomach juices make a quiet, intimate gurgle. I feel compelled to have what the girl is eating. I turn and start walking to where the man is making the cakes.

…..”Crikey, I could just do with a waffle,” I mutter to myself. The memory vanishes.

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