i'm approaching the end of this cycle. why do we call it death when in fact it's waking up?
let's celebrate. Hana Andronikova (1967-2011)
Hana Andronikova (born Přikrylová, 9.9.1967 - 20.12.2011), born in Zlín, went on to study English and Czech literature at Charles University. Her first novel, The Sound of the Sundial, was published in 2001 to great acclaim, receiving the Book Club Literary Award and the 2002 Magnesia Litera Award. A mature, cultivated, and intensely readable work, the novel spans from a small Czech town to 1930’s India, a Nazi concentration camp, and contemporary America, telling the story of the fatal romance between an engineer named Tomaš Keppler and a young Jewish girl named Rachel, narrated by their son Daniel.
Andronikova’s book of short stories, Heart on the Hook (Petrov 2002), cemented her reputation as an emerging force in the Czech literary scene. 2010 Odeon published "Nebe nemá dno" (Heaven Has No Floor), a diary about her fight with her illness, the presence of death. Therefore she received 2011 the Magnesia Litera Readers' Award. Together with Jana Svobodova she wrote for the theatre Archa plays "Dance through the fence (2008)", and "Jesters, Spies and Presidents (2010)". Hana Andronikova died of cancer on 20.12.2011
The Sound of the Sundial
Zvuk slunečních hodin
There was no euphoria at the Liberation. Just fatigue and fear — a strike force of mordant apprehension about the future. Still, I survived the typhus epidemic, and six weeks later, Rachel and I waited together to be put on buses bound for home.
Euforie z osvobození se nekonala. Jenom únava a strach. Přepadové komando sžíravých obav z budoucnosti.
Rachel’s coughing fits had started up again. For several days her throat was inflamed. During our time in the concentration camp I had grown used to the fact that disease was a force to be reckoned with, and for many of us, there was no defense.
Ráchel se znovu rozkašlala. Už několik dní měla nateklý krk.
Nechala jsem toho, protože tohle už jsem znala. Těch okamžiků, kdy si postavila hlavu, bylo jen pár. Ale když už se zabejčila, všechno úsilí bylo marné.
It turned out we didn’t go by bus, but by train. It was a freight train with one passenger car hitched on at the end, full of straggling souls being drawn back to their Bohemian home. We sat on wooden benches, and the sound of the wheels lulled some of us to sleep. Others were shunned by sleep, or shunned sleep themselves in order to escape their dreams.
Nakonec jsme nejely autobusem, ale vlakem. Byl to náklaďák, ke kterému přistavili jeden osobní vagon. Opozdilé duše, které chtěly zpátky do Čech.
We are stories. We are myths and fairy tales. We are poetry. Our lives are books, covered with the handwriting of joy, our grief, our successes and defeats. We are pages written by people and events that befell us. We cherish the manuscripts of those who have bewitched us with the beauty of their bodies and souls, those who have endowed us with light and knowledge. Manuscripts of the beloved.
My jsme příběhy. My jsme mýty a pohádky. Jsme poezie. Naše životy jsou knihy. Knihy plné listů popsaných rukopisem vlastního štěstí a smutku, vlastních úspěchů a porázek. Jsme stránky popsané lidmi a událostmi, které nás potkaly. Hýčkáme rukopisy těch, co nás okouzlili krásou svých těl a duší, těch, co nás obdařovali světlem a poznáním, rukopisy, které hřály a hladily. Rukopisy milovaných.
At that moment the train stopped in the middle of the countryside. No station anywhere.
V tu chvíli se vlak zastavil. Uprostřed polí. Nikde nebylo žádné nádraží.
page 268—270 The Sound of the Sundial,
str.280—281 Zvuk slunečních hodin
I met Hana in December 2001 for the first time at a reading. Made some pictures (at that time not digital) of her, I wrote her a letter and we started to meet, discussing. After those meetings we went together to metro station Mustek, where we had to split, Hana to the direction of Dejvice, I to the direction of Skalka. We always have been waving to each other. Letters and photos I lost during the last moving, some mails have been restored, and her soul is in light moments with me.
DIVADLO ARCHA: DANCE THROUGH THE FENCE
Created as part of Archa Theatre’s long-term project Dialogues on Escape, Dance through the fence records various phases of the life of a refugee: actors and dancers interpret the authentic accounts of people with uncertain fates, people who are looking for a new life.
Dance through the Fence is a theatrical mosaic which, on the basis of long-term co-operation between professional artists and asylum seekers, tells the authentic stories of Chechen, Burmese, Georgian and Kurdish refugees.
Before each performance, the audience were able to join in creative activities, based on creative work undertaken in refugee camps and led by Radka Dohnalová.
Dance through the fence was also be accompanied by an exhibition in the theatre foyer, presenting photographs from David Kummerman, video-installation from Nadim Mohamed and creative work from the residents of refugee camps at Bělá pod Bezdězem and Přílepy.
Concept and Direction: Jana Svobodová
Written by: Hana Andronikova, 2008
Music: Michael Romanyshyn
Featuring: Eva Hromníková, Daniel Raček, Petra Lustigová, Philip Schenker, Jing Lu, Jan Březina, Gugar Manukjan, Abdulrahman Kasem
All Star Refugee Band: Gugar Manukjan (accordian), Abdulrahman Kasem (oud, singing), Jan Středa (trumpet), Adam Koller (drums), Michael Romanyshyn (clarinet), Jindřich Krippner (clarinet, saxophone)
NOTES FROM HANA
just got to pucallpa, the nearest town today, great to
read your note, thanks for your prayers. yes, the masks. a week ago i
wrote in my journal: everyone you meet wears a mirror on their face...
sending you the sound of my mornings.
under my mosquito net,
i know exactly what time it is
by the sound the jungle makes.
not the time measured in hours and minutes.
time and distance are only categories
invented by humans,
don´t mean much in the forest,
terms unknown in the space of our souls.
the sound of the bird that pushes out the dark.
the moment the little monkeys come.
the kindergarden of birds, rawdy and loud.
the short silence at the very break of the day,
like the sunset.
the power of twilight.
the hour of bats.
two moments of change marked by silence.
learning to accept who i am, in humbleness.
learning to love my flaws,
embracing them -
they turn into rubies.
and yet utterly ordinary.
just feeling the brook in my hair,
not knowing which day it is.
surrounded by eternity itself.
sending you love.
drops of boiling river.
2/7/2008 not back yet, the higher power is sending me to nevada, to the desert and as much as i would love to go back home, i will follow the orders and do my best. hope to come back to prague in a month or two. sending you love, looking forward to being with you in person (otherwise you are here with me, anytime i think of you).
16/9/2008 i am back. also thinking of you a lot. glad to hear j. likes his new school, but i can imagine how much you miss him. and b. also. i guess i´ll need some time to settle down here, back to civilized world... then we´ll get together and catch up. see you soon.
21/9/2008 looking forward to seeing you tomorrow in the theatre, if you can make it. if not, we´ll see each other soon afterwards.
22/9/2008 sure, don´t worry about the play, hope you have a good trip. i plan to go to zlin on wednesday, should be back on sunday, so we´ll organize something then. it is nice of i. to suggest dinner but i do keep a pretty strict diet so that would be a bit difficult to arrange. safe journey to good old vienna :-)
27/9/2008 i will let you know if things get tough, you are one of my angels, you know. sure, you can publish my howl, if you want, maybe i should edit it before that or what do you thing? my mother is here till tomorrow, yesterday spent the day at homolka tomorrow again, talk with the head doctor of oncology about starting the therapy.
28/11/2008 i am to start my first chemotherapy on monday morning here at homolka hospital, i´ll see how it works, will keep in touch, ok?
28/12/2008 i feel you with me most of the time. You and J. have a place in my heart and I cherish our friendship very much. Sending you love and light and blessings. HAPPY NEW YEAR. MAY 2009 BE THE BEST ONE SO FAR.
15/3/2009 thank you for your note, i am going for another chemo tomorrow... it is always helpful to have you on my side :-)
28/4/2009 thanks for sending your inspiring notes, too. love them. i spent 2 weeks in zlin, now came back to prague, starting radiation tomorrow, will get schedule for the next two months - can´t wait to be able to see you. soon.
5/5/2009 i would love to see you!!! i am in prague, undergoing radiation (till the end of june), should have free time over the weekend since my sister was planning to come to prague but now she has a cold so she cancelled... as far as dinner with r. - i´m not sure, i cannot really plan too much ahead since i don´t know how i´d feel at that point of time.
7/9/2009 zdravim mohutne a posilam odkaz na blog respektu, kdyby vas to nahodou zajimalo :-) we are connected since you were on my mind a lot over the last few weeks, i even celebrated your birthday with a glass of good red wine. i am good, all is well, most of the time busy writing, spent most of the summer at my friends summer house on berounka, alone, writing. we should catch up, huh?
19/9/2009 i cannot believe how time flies, where does it go? i´m thinking of you a lot, you occupy a big place in my heart and i know that we will get together, i just have so many things going on right now (i think it is understandable after all those months of therapy when my scope was quite limited). all is fine, as the song goes: i feel good! yes, i feel good. writing and writing, working on a new play, and at the same time trying to finish my book. i´m getting close. on monday i´m leaving for jerusalem for 3 weeks, can´t wait, will be staying with friends, hope to get some writing done in the middle of all that conflicting beauty and to get to the desert, of course. which means that i will see you after i come back, in mid october, if you are around.
21/12/2009 i will be in zlin, leaving tomorrow, will be back on jan 3rd, hope to see you then. i am finishing a book, and still not done, but i am getting closer and closer and that means we will celebrate together not only new year but also my "howling" book. :-) wishing you and j. all the best for xmas and new year
28/01/2010 thank you so much for yesterday, it was so good to see you in person. and talk about j. and life and love and everything else that touches us, all our learnings and adventures... and today the sun shines and reminds us of the bright side of everything, i like that. the photo is great, j. looks fabulous, he became a man, wow, i still remember him when i saw him as a kid... give him a hug for me, he is a very special soul. here is the file with my new book, it has not been edited, so there may be some typos and such. i forgot what was the other thing i said i would send you... can you remind me if you happen to remember? oh, it might be archa, here is the address: www. archatheatre.cz... just in case you want to see havel´s play...
18/03/2010 invitation to the theatre play
DIVADLO ARCHA: JESTERS, SPIES AND PRESIDENTS, The Jesters, Spies and Presidents project is a follow up to the All Star Refugee Company's successful production of Dance Through the Fence.We begin by asking: What would happen if the next Czech president were Syrian refugee Džuan Šedin? The performance was modeled on the current political situation in Europe, in particular the growing wave of neo-Nazism, xenophobia and racism. The candidate for Czech president, Džuan Šemdin, is played by Miran Kasem, a refugee from Syria as well as a musician and barber.
Concept: Jana Svobodová and Hana Andronikova
Script: Hana Andronikova
Director and scenography: Jana Svobodová
Music: Michael Romanyshyn
Costumes and props: Štěpán Růžička
Light design: Pavla Beranová
Sound: Jan StředaFeaturing the members of the Allstar Refjúdží Band: Petra Lustigová, Miran Kasem, Jing Lu, Eva Hromníková, Phillip Schenker, Ivana Hessová j.h.
Premiere: 25.3.2010 afterwards we met in Divadlo Archa, chatting, making plans for the future
31/3/2010 it was so good to see you at archa, glad you came and felt your support. thank you for the link, i will check it out when i'm back in prague. the funeral was fine, the family got together and it was quite pleasant to see all my relatives. leaving for prague tomorrow, hope to see you soon. :-)
29/7/2010 how are you? how do you feel? i have been thinking of you since our last chat quite often, you are in my prayers. here all is good, lots of news but manageable, my mother is now going through her 4th chemo, she is very brave, physically it is a lot to bear but her spirit is high, she never loses her sense of humour which is the best healing asset. i am in a wheelchair now - no kidding - i distorted my ankle and tore some tendons so i have a cast for 5 weeks, no walking allowed, and they threatened with an operation... well, it is not what i planned for this summer but it is reality and it is ok, instead of riding a bike i will write since there is not much i can do anyway :-) my new book is finished, i will send you the cover, it will be out in september. tell me your news, whenever you have time.
10/8/2010 thanks for the cover, your photo is great, that´s how we met, through your photographs :-) !!!! it is great to hear that j. is allowed to locomotives, i love the way he´s persuing his passion!, it is important to be heard by the ones we love. i am in prague, my mother is taking treatment here in prague at apolinar hospital, and i am supposed to take care of her :-) well, i don´t need much help for the time being, i can take care of myself and even of my mother for a couple of days when she is not well after the chemo, the only thing we need is someone to do the shopping. i have a few friends living here in prague 6 and they are all willing to help. it is good to have many friends :-) have a great time in austria, and when you come back we´ll celebrate your birthday - here we go again, another year has passed - where the time goes?
28/2/2011 since january relaps, meta in lungs and chest vertebra, managing pain, my mother moved in with me, trying her best, i still feel that it is possible to heal even though now it needs a bit more of a miracle than the last time. neurosurgery needed immediately to save me from pain and give me a chance to stay here longer :-) you are in my prayers, all of you, the prayer is the easiest one earth: please forgive me, i love you, thank you for everything.
11/3/2011 my darling soul sister, i have my mother with me here, she takes care of me so well, she is so loving and so kind and i sometimes feel that only through her love alone i could heal... well, i can see our family pattern here, our mission here: how do you take care of someone and still keep your needs met and balanced... that is the question... somehow we tend to overdo the sacrifice part... how are you? i hope all is well with you. i feel you with me, my soul sis, your quiet strength.
12/3/2011 still remain in bed, most of the time, will let you know when i have enough strenght for visit. would love to see you.
9/4/2011 things have moved forward, monday will be in hospital, tuesday preparation and wednesday 13th neurosurgery of the spine, so the prayers will take place around that time. alice will coordinate.
4/5/2011 my dear soul sister, i keep looking at the precious flower of india and keep thanking you and praying for you. do you have any idea how to take care of it? how is it called? how often do i water it and so on. can you please give me advice?
24/5/2011 i was in the hospital last week, they didn't do much about the pain i have but gave me first dose of chemotherapy. my sister was here for the weekend which was a big help since i needed a lot of care, i had high fever and pain in all my bones and muscles (apart from the pain in the breast) which are the side effects of the chemo... now i feel better, but i still have to wait for the chemo to start working on the pain. i hope it will be soon. i am so grateful for all your love and prayers.
27/5/2011 your words always come at the right time. i'm doing my best, you know me, brushing off pain slowly, you are here with me, all the time, holding my hand, we walk in the clouds, we travel through time. you are giving me faith. thank you so much for being here.
22/6/2011 i've had a second round of chemo on friday, it seems that the worst is behind me, the pain is less and less and i can even get some good hours of sleep, so i feel much more positive. i am beginning to see the light again and am able to meditate for a couple of minutes here and there which feels like a huge victory. it is still nothing compared to what i could do in the past but god i am so grateful for every little step forward! i think i might be up for a visit in a few weeks - i mean it would be so nice to see you again. thinking of you lots, especially now as the birds go wild with their evening chatter!
24/6/2011 good to hear from you. we are leaving for my friends summer house at berounka river tomorrow, we plan to be back next sunday or so before i go for my next chemo on july 8th. so we might be able to see each other after that, probably at the second half of july, sometime. lets see how things develop.
6/8/2011 i love the way your eye catches the worlds around, flashes of eternity like insights into my soul. my heart beats faster as i travel on your train. happy birthday!!! and enjoy styria, my soul sister.
11/9/2011 welcome back! and thank you for your wishes!well, i spent the morning of my birthday in hospital getting a special cocktail straight into my vein (6th round of chemo) and for the rest of the day i celebrated my birth into this current form in the position of a sleeping warrior :-) i'm much better today, going through ups and downs but overall pushing myself towards life, i hope. i found out that it became quite hard for me to be loving towards myself, towards my wounds, toward my life as it is right now. i'm working on changing that since it is impossible to recover when one hates herself. i'm also working on changing my beliefs about the disease - which is equally hard because the whole society is set to believe that some things are simply impossible and people around me reflect that. your prayers are the best support i can get and your trust that miracles are possible at any stage is priceless. i feel you with me.
12/9/2011 thank you for your words. and the picture of j. in the garden, the living answer. i love seeing the world through your eyes. and i can see he's grown into a man. i can feel your awe and share it. there is no need for a plan since the divine one unfolds without our interventions. just watching it manifesting is the whole quest here. as hafiz says: there is nothing but the divine movement in this world. the moments i realize this i am free. i'm beginning to see more light, around and inside as well. i don't know how much time is left for me but the moment i feel it doesn't matter - i relax into a place where everything already exists. there is grace in surrender. in acceptance.
20/9/2011thank you for the song and the story about angels, it touched me very deeply. i've got some news i feel i want to share with you. but don't worry, it's not as dramatic as it sounds. last friday my oncologist confirmed something i knew already: that the chemo is not working. so that part is over. no more poison. the classical medicine is done with me. well, thank god. and i'm done with it. in fact, i'm relieved. obviously knowing there is nothing more they can offer is very liberating. there will be no more pushing from friends and loved ones, no more fighting. just accepting what is. resting in the now and surrendering into the arms of existence. i feel peaceful, the inner struggle is gone, i feel whole. there's no split in me as there is nowhere to run or no puzzle to solve. my life is not in my hands and yet i feel more empowered then ever. and i'm ready to use this time to enjoy myself as much as i can. instead of hurting my body i'm going to pamper it. joy is the mantra of the day. you are in my thoughts and prayers, so is j. love.
love is the funeral pyre.
where the heart must lay its body.
my heart is with you.
i'm approaching the end of this cycle.
why do we call it death when in fact it's waking up?
i pray for peaceful transition and yet
i'm ashamed that i still pray and want something for myself.
the thought of going home soothing.
so let's not grieve. let's celebrate!
29/12/2011 At the funeral there have been no speeches, only songs. It has been a sunny day.
24/6/2013 From Monika Le Fay I have been informed that Hana's mother died.
In July 2015 I met Rachel Feingold in Prague and Zlín, she edited and adapted "The Sound of the Sundial" and plans to write a novel about herself and Hana Andronikova.
Any list of the top five Czech novels since the fall of communism should include The Sound of the Sundial by Hana Andronikova. This epic love story takes us from pre-war Czechoslovakia to India and then back into the maelstrom of Europe during World War Two, as the young Czech-German engineer Thomas and his Jewish wife Rachel are swept on the tide of twentieth century history. Now for the first time this powerful and moving novel is available in English translation. David Vaughan spoke to Rachel Feingold, who edited and adapted the book for publication in the United States. August 2015 David Vaughan
19/12/2015 Eva Riesslerová, Hanas' sister invites friends to remember Hana and to embrace life "Nebe Hany Andronikové je bezedné"