Almost kafkaesque in Prague

by Evans Yonson

(Note: Kafkaesque means the oppressiveness of modern life as portrayed in the writings of Prague-born writer Franz Kafka, his characters frequently find themselves in threatening situations for which there is no explanation and from which there is no escape.)

Barcelona – On my recent trip to Eastern Europe, there is only one thing that I did not do prior to flying out of Barcelona on this early summer weekend. I did not research anything about any of the cities that I was going. I thought of going to the countries with the feeling of zero knowledge to begin with. The attitude of surprise-me-with-what-you’ve-got kind of thing was the main idea of the travel. The only thing I prepared a backpack of clothes and underwear for 15 days, my toiletries, my documents -hotel and flight reservations and passport, and my cameras. Since I was travelling to five countries, I promised myself not to buy anything souvenir items except for my pencil collection.

Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924)

In every city that I visited, there was something new  to my knowledge and even more addition to what I have already known. In Prague, I only knew about the devotion to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (Sto. Nino). I didn’t know that there was a church there. I have never known about people going on pilgrimage to the capital of the Czech Republic.  My mom was a Sto. Niño devotee especially to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. So when I got to the Basilica for the first time, I was awed by the number of devotees kneeling and saying the rosary before the Child Jesus. At the entrance, there´s a sign saying that the Basilica has a museum but it was closed that day.

The statue of the Holy Child Jesus.

After several days of being in Prague, I decided to go back to the Basilica and I knew that museum would be opened then. I hurriedly went to the end of the church passing through numerous Spanish devotees praying and chatting noisily in this hot midsummer day. The Spanish really has their own way of being noisy wherever they maybe. Just like the Americans with their signature line, “you know!” Slowly as I enter this dungeon like winding staircase, I was greeted by dimly lit photographs of different statues of the Child Jesus by various artists. In the middle is a huge Crucifix. So huge that it commands so much attention from those going up and down to/from the museum.

The Crucifix is so huge and surreal.

Even this stone expresses the pain that going up to the Museum becomes a walk of repentance.

The Virgin is dimly lit at the door of the museum. It creates a different feeling.

On display at the moment are the clothes worn by the statue of the Child Jesus. These clothes were created and donated by various designers who are also devotees at the same time. One excellent design on display is by Filipino master designer Ben Farrales.

By Filipino designer Ben Farrales.

I didn’t understand why the museum is dimly lit and being that way too. The long and winding staircase made the experience even more strenuous. I was almost out of breath when the dark room of worn clothes greeted me on top. The room smelled incense or something that is burned for offering. The air felt so damp and humid. It felt like something or someone hit me that I could not figure out anything when I entered that room.

Suddenly a camera flash went on and the museum guide out of nowhere shouted, “no flash!”