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Umělec magazine 2005/1


Silvie Vondřejcová | tragedy | en cs

Thursday, July 8, 2004, Prague. In the apartment

After that robbery yesterday I slowly started to realize how unprepared I was. Unprepared for the fact that something bad could happen. And to me, someone who always follows the rules so carefully! I am naive, that’s for sure. I believed in the illusion that if I watched my things carefully, locked the house and never bothered anyone, nothing could happen to me. It was, of course, possible that someone could snatch my purse from my hand, from me – someone who never deserved anything like that, but I never thought that it would be with such strength that the straps would snap. I have always thought that only careless people lose things this way, I’m constantly on guard, I held onto my purse. The straps are the proof.
I probably believed that since I’m not negligent, that a crook has no right to run away with my purse, that I would catch him and he would give it back to me, because he has no right to it, and I would have shown him that I wouldn’t give in. That’s why I ran after him uphill on those horrible high heels; that’s why I called for help and tried to catch him... I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t expect it.
Still, I was de facto prepared. Is it chance that after a few months of never leaving any cash in my apartment, I left 1000 crowns in my lingerie? Although my cell phone display was not functioning, I didn’t buy a new one, I was waiting until it stopped working – I knew that it was past it’s retirement. The same with my camera, every time I switched it on I wondered how much longer it could last before it broke. I’d been putting off these investments, but I knew that they were ahead, and I was prepared to make them. Not both at once, not in such a way – I hadn’t started looking for a new camera but had already browsed for cell phones.
But there are things that are irreplaceable, and their loss is very hard for me. My diary for example. I don’t remember how many diaries I have written since my sixteenth birthday, but I’d been writing this one since December and its loss is the loss of many thoughts.
I’ve been thinking about my own arrogance. Yes, maybe I behaved too self-confidently, I felt like a queen who is always in control of what she wants and what she does. Isn’t that a mistake? This arrogant behavior of mine alone could provoke someone. How many times did I walk that way even later at night? I even met stranger types there, they wanted to scare me and I had to avoid them. But this guy knew what he was doing, only I didn’t realize it.

Saturday, July 10, 2004, Prague. In the apartment

Among the things I lost on Wednesday in the robbery was one piece of art. Radek’s key chain – that was a part of his dissertation. I only had it for a few weeks, I had never carried any key chain before. I considered them a nuisance and something heavy, but I got used to this one and liked it. I showed it to many people, everywhere. I don’t have it anymore and I keep wondering whether I might substitute it with one just like it. Maybe I could persuade Radek to make a new one for me. However, just like I bought the same diary with the picture of Manhattan at night and the Twin Towers on the cover, it won’t bring back the thoughts written in the old diary.
Will the thief – or the possible finder of the bag without any valuables – return Radek’s key chain? Or will it never be found and end up in a garbage can? It is quite an interesting situation, considering the text of Radek’s dissertation defense, in which he wonders what the new owner will think about it, not knowing its origin.
I keep thinking whether it is some sign – like carrying a key chain brings me bad luck – it is strange that carrying a diary with you doesn’t – or a diary with a picture of the Twins, those which don’t stand anymore...And I nearly cursed and threw away the shoes I was wearing when it happened; it was the first day I had worn them. The sweater I have been wearing for a few weeks got away without punishment. I tried to buy a new diary today, but in July I probably won’t be able to find any.
Will I ever feel safe in an empty street in the evening? Probably the biggest loss I suffered from Wednesday is the loss of feeling safe. It’s like the lottery, you can be playing for years and you never win. It’s the same with me—I had walked down the streets in the evening carelessly. I thought that if I avoided parks and went along the main street where there is a lot of traffic, and mainly, if I kept back all thoughts of danger, nothing could happen to me. I believed that my thoughts could bring about danger and therefore I never thought about it. That’s why I was so unprepared and shocked so much. Yes, it is a shock for me, it is a limitation of my freedom, I can’t walk home anymore at night, I have to wait for a bus, which goes at long intervals later at night and after midnight there is no bus at all. And the later it is, the more dangerous the journey is. In the summer it’s okay, I can wait with a book or a newspaper, but in winter, that’s going to be a problem.
How many times I went home from the tram stop and I met some strange, lonely passenger... And really nothing happened to me – maybe just a good warning.

Monday, July 19, 2004, Prague

All my life I have believed in lucky numbers, I believed that seeing all ones on a clock brings good luck, and that the July 7th could not be a bad day.

Saturday, July 24, 2004, Prague

Tonight my friend Míša, a colleague from work, slept at my place. Cleaning up things from the couch, I found the straps from my purse. I showed them to her. She looked at them and said that they looked as if they had been cut off. This surprised me a lot, I looked at the straps and tried to persuade her that they were only broken, torn off, as two people were fighting over it. But she just repeated her opinion – such a clean cut must have been made with a knife.
It is a trivial and unimportant thing but it means a lot to me. It changes my view of the whole event, leaves me with even more fear and mistrust.
I’ve been wondering why I was so sure that the straps had been torn off, again and again I go over the situation, I keep coming back to it, I analyze how it is possible that I never noticed the knife and the cutting. Yes, I remember that one part of the purse gave way first, and the other a bit later, but that wasn’t important to me. It is quite logical that something has to give away first. Only now I realize that the bag and the straps were connected in four places, not in two, so why didn’t I feel four snaps? This might confirm Míša’s theory and my naivete.
But how is it possible that I didn’t notice it, that I thought it just an accident? How is it possible that I didn’t take the whole thing seriously but just as a test? A test of how I watch my things. I didn’t fail, so the bag should have stayed with me, in my opinion. And it is even worse because I didn’t pay any attention to that man, I only wanted to get past him quickly, and be at home. So when he was cutting the purse away, he was standing somewhere behind me and I didn’t even turn round to look at him. He wasn’t real to me. It is exactly how I am used to behaving. I don’t look at any obstacles I just go in my direction as long as it is possible.
And in this event I didn’t look at him, I went stubbornly on my way and pulled the bag behind me with all my strength hoping that he would give up.

Sunday, July 25, 2004, Prague

Yesterday we sprayed that notice with Hanka. I was glad that I was not alone, I would have been afraid. I’m very scared now, afraid of that place, as if that guy was watching it. I cut the stencil last Sunday. I think it is the best way how to deal with what happened to me. The only possible additional self-protection, the only satisfaction, and a hope that the notice might help someone to be more prepared than me.
It would be nice if every place where an injustice happened, a message remained informing about it, maybe sprayed with a stencil. And as people walk over it, they will trample it into the earth, just like my message will be trodden in, and so the fresh ones can be noticed.
The man who robbed me was a professional; he knew very well what he was doing. He intentionally walked on my side of the pavement so that I would have to step aside to the left and he could get to the purse I carry on my right shoulder. He had a knife on him so he could cut the straps and run away.
Only now am I able to see it, although it was clear from the beginning. I just didn’t want to admit it.
I should stop thinking about it. It is over, resolved. I have a new cell phone and a new camera, my mace is not lying somewhere in my apartment, but I carry it with me all the time. So I should stop dwelling on the past.



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