Marche SLave Op. 31 Tchaikovsky

Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan, cond. - Marche Slave, Op. 31 .mp3
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Reflection

Philippe Dupont opened the door, waited to let the attractive blonde exit, and before walking her to her car, he habitually glanced in the relatively large, round mirror across the hall. His reflection was dead. Despite the seemingly alive being he thought he was, he noticed that the reflection was strikingly different: First of all, the eyes were withered and cold, as if they were looking at something in the far distance, avoiding Philippe. And then there was the paleness. He shivered. His forehead sparkled from cold sweat. He involuntarily wiped his forehead, then rubbed the eyes and saw that the reflection did not repeat his movements. He wanted to scream, but instead he thought he heard a death rattle.

“What happened to you?” asked the woman who came closer when she didn’t receive a response.

“Look.” Philippe barely uttered, pointing to the mirror.

The woman looked and then confusedly turned to Philippe. “What’s there to look?”

“My reflection . . . “

“Your reflection?” The woman looked once more. “What about your reflection?”

“It’s dead.”

She giggled.

“I didn’t know that a glass of cognac would have this effect on you.”

“Look, look!” yelled Philippe, moving his arms. “It’s not moving!”

“Keep it down.” she whispered. “The door is open. You yourself were complaining about your neighbors being too nosy.”

“But it doesn’t move!” Philippe exclaimed in a hopeless tone. “It doesn’t move, do you understand? Here, see? See?” and again moved his arms.

“You’re so weird” she grinned. “I don’t know; I’m leaving. Are you going to walk with me or not?” She impatiently waited for a response from the shocked man standing beside her. “And?” not receiving a response yet again, she walked out, irritated. More mechanically than consciously, Philippe looked at the reflection once more and followed the woman.

They walked to her car in sheer silence. It was cold. The light poles did not work, and that fact seemed to intensify the frostiness of the air. Philippe shivered and lifted the collar of his raincoat. The woman was walking fast, without paying attention to Philippe. She approached her car and without saying good-bye, got into the driver’s seat. After situating, she lowered the window, “Go have some Elenium . . . So sensitive . . . Also, don’t bother calling me again.”

She was gone before Philippe could say anything. She was just looking for a reason, he thought. Otherwise why so tempered and abrupt? Suddenly the reflection came to mind. He felt that going home was above his powers. What should I do? he wondered. Perhaps I should go to Jean’s. Perhaps it was only my imagination.

Jean was not home.

“Come in” Jean’s wife always had that warm smile on her face. “Jean will be home in about two hours. Come in?” she repeated.

She guided him to the living room. There was a mirror hanging from the wall, next to the piano. Philippe, not being able to fight the urge of looking himself in it, walked to the mirror. Alas, nothing has changed—the reflection was cold, dead, and the paleness was still there.

“Some coffee or tea perhaps?” she offered.

“Look at me carefully” Philippe turned.

“What happened?” Jean’s wife did not know what she needed to look for. “What’s wrong?”

“Look at me.” Philippe repeated. “Do I look different?”

“You’re not the type who changes” she smiled. “Everyone changes, but not you. You’re thirty-nine, yet you have the looks of a twenty-five-year old.”

“And now look at that.” Philippe pointed to the mirror.

“This? And that’s a mirror!”

"No, look inside."

"And that's you, too!"

“No, that’s not me. That’s my reflection.”

“What’s the difference?”

Jean’s wife was confused. She looked again and got worried.

“Are you sick?” she asked concerned.

“It’s dead.” he whispered.

“Are you drunk?”

“No! No!”

Philippe moved his arms. “See? It’s not moving! It’s not repeating!”

“You’re really drunk! I can smell it. Why did your wife have to leave you? Ah . . . ”

“I told you.” Philippe sat in the chair. “I had a glass of cognac. I’m not drunk to the point to hallucinate.”

“Why don’t you stay over tonight? Jean will be home soon. You’ll play chess, and I have an excellent Sri Lankan tea.”

“I’m afraid I cannot.”

Philippe knew it was pointless. Maybe it appears to me? he thought to himself. I have to see a doctor. “Please tell Jean to give me a call.” Philippe asked and walked to the door.

“Wait! What about the tea?”

But Philippe had already left. He walked on the sidewalks, lost in thoughts. The winter air did not comfort him. There were some trees that had a few leaves left on them. He got home shortly, entered his apartment like a thief, without turning on the lights, trying to ignore the mirror. He stumbled to his bedroom and turned on the nightstand light. Without thinking further, he got himself two sleep capsules and lied down. For a few, long minutes he was looking at the ceiling, waiting for the drugs to take effect.

The anticipation that the morning was going to be different died after a glance in the mirror. The man in the mirror was dead and indifferent. He called in to work to say he won’t be in for the day and rushed to the clinic.

It was his first time to a neuropathologist’s office. He waited for his turn for quite a while. The patients were discussing their illnesses in the waiting room and giving each other advice. The main problems discussed were Alzheimer’s disease, insomnia, and an overweight, old man said that he doesn’t have any illnesses but is scared of losing his sanity.

“How can you not go insane?” he murmured. It’s the same story everywhere—these rich people buying the land and building new things all the time. At least before I got to go the park, have conversation with those like me, play chess, and vent. Now they’re digging the park to build offices there. My friends are passing away one after another. Not too many oldies are left. And when you get to live until seventy, they look at you like you’re too old and have lived for too long.

“You have to die young in order to be appreciated.” noted the diminutive man sitting in the corner trying to be ignorant of the old man. “With medicine nowadays, these seniors . . .”

The old man wanted to give a stinging response to the man in the corner, but only his lips moved, without saying anything out loud. Then he added, “Eh, and my wife left me after forty-five years of marriage . . .”

At that moment Philippe was called in. The doctor was not alone. The nurse, a very attractive young woman, was next to him, writing notes.

“What is the reason of your visit?” the doctor asked.

Philippe looked at the nurse. The doctor understood and asked her to leave them alone. She stopped writing, put down the notepad, and walked out. Habitually, Philippe would have thrown a glance behind her, but not this time. He was not in the mood.

“And? I’m listening to you” said the doctor.

Philippe decided to get straight to his problem.

“You understand . . . ” he said. “Yesterday I looked in the mirror and saw that I was dead.”

“I understand. What else do you feel?”

“Nothing else.” said Philippe. “I don’t feel anything else. I feel completely normal. I mean, uh-huh, except that. I mean, others don’t notice any of this.” Philippe sat up, looking unnerved. “My reflection is what’s dead, in the mirror. It does not repeat my movements; it’s pale . . . in short . . . It’s dead. Is there a mirror here? I can show you.”

“There is no mirror.” said the doctor. “Have you ever been hospitalized?”

“No, no. Never. Please don’t think I’m crazy. I’m telling you—I’m completely normal . . . more than normal.”

“No one said you weren’t. Hallucinations can happen to anyone. It can happen to me.” the doctor chuckled at his own joke. “Exhaustion, anxiety . . . can be causes. Do you have any headaches?”

“I don’t.”

“Do you drink?”

“Sometimes. In moderate amounts.”

The doctor carefully looked at Philippe.

“Insomnia? Do you lack sleep?”


“Undress from waist up.”

The examination took a while. The doctor pressed Philippe’s shoulders, asked him questions, and then used his little hammer for the knees. He also checked Philippe’s teeth. Then he started writing a prescription. At this moment the nurse knocked on the door, and without waiting for a response, walked in. Philippe has not put his shirt back on just yet. She looked at Philippe with interest. The latter had quite an athletic physique.

The nurse then turned to the doctor, “Sergey Petrovich, I brought his card.”

“Put it here.” he advised. Then he addressed Philippe, “This prescription must be taken three times daily, after meals, and the injections—once every two days. If the hallucinations continue, come see me again, and I will send you to Lons, for further examination.

By listening to the last sentence, the nurse’s expression changed from curious to pity. She looked at Philippe like he was some kind of an insect—a thing that was soon to be destroyed. At least that’s how it seemed to Philippe.

All day Philippe spent outdoors. It crossed his mind to stop by the office, but when imagined the cubicles, his desk, the co-workers’ nosy questions about his absence, he changed his mind. Avril, the secretary, would immediately say, “You shouldn’t have come. If you called in sick, you should’ve just stayed home. Today is especially busy.”

It’s been thirteen years Philippe worked for the same company. During all those years, he twice got minimal raise. And once they even gave him a travel pass (during the winter). Other than these, nothing extraordinary ever happened in the office. His days were monotonous, sleepy, and tedious. Personal life didn’t satisfy him either. It seemed to him that his family was the reason of his dreary existence. He couldn’t help himself but to think that he was born to live a passionate and seething life. But when one day his wife told him that she’s leaving him because she loves someone else—a real man who’s able to provide a passionate and seething life for her (it was clear that she also had the same dream)—Philippe felt miserable and deceived. It’s true that after the divorce there came some changes in Philippe’s life—many new women appeared, but somehow they did not contribute to his hazy search for contentment. Hopelessness became intolerable . . .

. . . Philippe entered the movie theater—there was a film playing about army life—a novice barely comprehended the new rules and had a hard time fitting in his “soldier” role, but with the help of the experienced sergeant, he adapted to the new environment. Philippe did not see the ending of this film, as he took a nap in his seat. He woke up from the noise of the crowd as it exited the theater when all was over and suddenly remembered that at six o’clock he invited to his place that cute brunette he met the other day. All day he avoided mirrors, but the thought of the big mirror in the hallway, terrified him.

By entering his apartment, with bitter assurance, he saw that his reflection’s paleness turned into a dark color—the same thing that happens to a corpse. While thinking this, he felt there was stench in the room. It is not clear what would have happened if the doorbell had not rung. It was her.

Right in the hallway, without a foreword, he asked her to tell him what she sees in the mirror. Alas, the woman also saw what others did—the handsome, fit man in the mirror.

That night Philippe saw a strange dream. His children and ex-wife slid out of the hallway mirror and proposed to him to get a lottery ticket. The cute nurse from the clinic he visited recently also supported his family’s suggestion. Then the film’s sergeant appeared and argued that because of the games the influential people play, the common people suffer, and because of that very reason the little park is gone where the oldies used to play chess. Then the old man from the clinic appeared, his body covered in bandages. Philippe noticed entreaty in his eyes.

He woke up with cold sweat. It was already six in the morning. He had a terrible headache. Perhaps yesterday the doctor was asking about this kind of headache. He stumbled to the kitchen for some water, and when he passed by the mirror, he felt that the stench has worsened. He couldn’t help himself and looked. It seemed impossible to him—the natural process of rotting was rigorously continuing . . .

Philippe couldn’t tolerate his miserable state any longer. He tore apart some sheets with what he covered all the mirrors and glasses in the apartment. Then he got into his bed and took a nap.

He did not leave the apartment that day. Jean paid a visit in the evening, around six. He seemed worried—perhaps the wife told him about Philippe’s peculiar behavior.

“What is this?” Jean asked appalled, pointing to the windows.

Philippe was silent.

“I’m asking you, what is all this?” Jean’s voice escalated. “Why did you hang these sheets all over the place? Has somebody died? Speak!”

“My reflection.” Philippe whispered.

“What about it?”

“It died.”

“Have you lost your mind? I told you to get remarried, form a new family. But you . . . look at you . . . You’re talking nonsense. Do you want to be institutionalized?”

With a sudden movement Philippe tore down the sheet that covered the big mirror. Philippe turned his head with terror, but Jean held him and made him look in the mirror.

“Here, here look! Nothing is wrong with your reflection! You’re the same, except unshaven. Why are you closing your eyes? Take a look! I’m talking to you!”

Philippe opened his eyes. What an astonishment! There was his reflection—good-looking like before! There was no paleness, and the foul smell has disappeared. The reflection’s eyes looked happy and even a bit playful . . .

From happiness Philippe did not know what to do. To jump? To cry from joy, or thank Jean, because he was the only soul there, besides himself? He couldn’t believe his eyes. For a long time Philippe was looking at his rediscovered, lively reflection. Jean was just happy at this sudden change, and the severity from a moment ago has vanished.

Jean stayed with Philippe for several hours. He patiently listened to Philippe’s story of his dead reflection and nodded at times, although he did not take Philippe seriously and thought all this is just a result of extreme anxiety. For the scenario not to repeat, he had to take him to a psychiatrist. And Jean thought of a credible doctor he knew . . .

After Jean left, Philippe cleaned a bit--the apartment remained untouched for the past few days. Then he turned on the television.

There was soccer. After an hour of it, he decided to shave because tomorrow morning he was going to go to work. He opened the hot water faucet in the bathroom, prepared all the necessary utensils and took a look at his joyful self. He mechanically touched his face to feel the grown hair.

His palm slid over a smooth, cold skin, which did not resemble a human flesh, but ice. Shocked, without understanding what has just happened, Philippe looked at his own hand and suddenly realized that the pale and frozen hand could only belong to the dead.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

He & I

I came across this memoir entirely by chance. How? It is not that significant. This is a thick notebook, in which the “lost self,”—the author’s pseudonym—recorded his almost everyday personal incidents.

By skipping the dreary parts, I chose and turned into a short story only those notes that make the centerpiece of the memoir and paint the “lost self’s” tragedy.

Also, the “lost self” titled the parts that concern his degringolade “He & I.”



I loved her.

Should I repeat those graceful words that would seem so perplexing and tedious to the skeptics for whom life is a charmless and constant struggle? Not for me—these words as they were uttered, seemed to be priceless novelties. Every time I would look into her bright, big eyes and listen to her jubilant giggle, I could see the sun and hear the mischievous babbling of the rivulet. When in my arms, I could feel her pure, but heavy breathing on my ear, and on my face—the electrical resonance of her velvet hair. I was dominated by this preposterous feeling, under which I was ready to commit the most virtuous and the most alarming acts.

She loved me, or I thought she did. I absolutely believed it at the time. She would constantly promise that nothing could ever break us apart.

I was just a student in my last semester of law school. Full of hopes and confident in my powers, especially in my future career, I was overflown with positive energy and dreams. Excited with that future and stimulated by love, with vigor, without rest I was preparing my dissertation, which was going to be the steady stone of my future greatness and glory.

But . . .

That one but . . .

Now, when everything is lost and drowned, I still recall those memories and feel as if I am going to scream from agony. Those memories have the ability to sting.

Nonetheless, I’ll continue with my story.

One time I was sitting alone in my room, which was in the northern side of campus, working on the last pages of my dissertation when I received a letter. It was from her. With much frankness, she told me that I should accept her past assurances as regrettable misunderstandings and try to forget her for she is soon to be married. “I know this letter is not very pleasant to read, but what can I say—anything is possible.” Just like this? With this kind of ridicule? Or did she think she was doing me a great favor by concluding with devilishly ruthless lines?

For a moment I did not give much importance to the letter, for I thought it was a joke—being sure that the crazy girl was playing, or trying me. But how big was first, my astonishment, then, my anger, and finally, my desperation when all the letters I sent her remained irresponsive. After this startling silence, I unexpectedly received a laconic telegraph—“Married.” One word only—nothing more. Perhaps she wrote to let me know not to annoy her with letters and telegraphs.

For a moment I was unaffected by the telegraph, because I prepared myself for it. Then . . . there came apatheia. I started having restless nights; my brain was in morbid anxiousness. Before, when I never doubted her love and knew she was going to be only mine, I feel as if I did not love her as strongly as I do now, when I know undoubtedly that I lost her . . . lost her forever. It is always so—the object of one’s love becomes doubly precious when gone . . .

I could not figure out what was going on with me. I felt the stupor—almost as if someone had excavated my brain out of my skull, and had thrown me into the desert, to wander aimlessly in its desolate dunes, with no endeavors, with no ideals, and with no hopes for salvation. However, I felt one thing clearly and certainly—the venom of revenge—that, which drop by drop was accumulating in my heart, and was going to erupt at once. She mercilessly insulted my most cherished feelings and me as an individual. She destroyed my hopes and my future. Before all the drama, I was an eagle both in soul and mind, soaring in high altitudes. Now, I am just a miserable sparrow who lost its wings. Could I ever forgive her this? I decided to treat her with the same savagery.

I don’t exist, so let her not be with the perished, I thought to myself one day, and left the law school, the dissertation, all of it, in order to pursue my decree. But something unexpected was awaiting me—the traitor was overseas, with her, as I’ve been told, very wealthy spouse.

Hopelessness once again hit me like a million tons, this time with stronger force, for I was eager to inflict injury, which remained unsatisfied. The thought that I was absolutely disarmed was eating me alive. There was a moment when I thought of the easiest way to self-criticize—to end all the pain. But then decided that suicide would be a hate crime against myself and not her. I knew sooner or later our paths would cross.

All the hopelessness, anger, and hate were followed by extreme indifference. I needed shocks to bring myself back some of my emotions, and those shocks I found in nightlife. I started spending much time with some of my friends, or should I call them acquaintances, who wasted their every penny on prostitutes and cards. I was now completely penetrated in that swamp which was sucking me in, without me noticing it. When I finally realized this, I had already lost my self in it.

A once law school student, glorified future’s candidate, winged by dreams and love, I now had become someone who wrote petitions and clauses, an advocate of dark cases, a drunk and sleepy nothing, sitting in the benches of courts' hallways. I was someone disgusting, someone with all the negative characteristics. My whole tragedy lied in me realizing and feeling that dreadful fall. Yet, recovery and resurrection were not my options.

One time, I believe it was the fifth year since our relationship’s termination, when on the street, completely randomly, I was face to face with her. The meeting was so unforeseen that I felt as if I was struck by lightening. From extreme astonishment, I clapped once, involuntarily. In fact, the clap startled her, as she did not even recognize me at once. And I’m not surprised why: the twenty-five year old handsome young man, with wide shoulders and chest, whom she used to know, who was always neatly dressed was now someone whose unshaven face shone from dirt, who was lost in an outdated coat, and whose nose was red from drinking too much. She saw a hunchback who reeked of cheap wine, cigarettes, and garlic. And she . . . she did not change at all. Actually, she had changed for the better so that no aesthetician could find any fault in her appearance. The former skinny, mischievous girl became this tall, gorgeous woman whom was impossible not to notice. And her attire . . . no matter how much my glorified future’s goals have been justified and accomplished, I could still have never provided those expensive-looking clothes for her and embellished her ears with rare blue diamonds, and her chest with pearls. It was clear that she was in the hands of a man who spared nothing for her.

In my bewildered state I felt feeble, worthless, and gruesome next to her triumphant grandeur. For a moment I tried to search and unearth the malice that at some point in my life gobbled me down its muzzle, and under which influence I felt prideful and unwounded. But I found nothing.

And when confused and stammering, with a forgiveness requesting voice I tried to remind her of myself, she became entangled, then appalled, then without giving me a chance to speak, rushed to her carriage and left. Perhaps she thought I would follow her.

I spent the rest of the day in a bar, from where I was brutally thrown out later at night.

Further, after this meeting, during those seldom hours when I was not drunk and more or less could deepen into my thoughts, one condition was tormenting me—what was the main reason of my descent? The unfortunate love couldn’t have been the main reason, which would’ve confused me temporarily, yes, but culdn’t have completely demolished me. That would’ve been absurd.

The main cause must’ve been something else. I started searching for this cause in the exteriors of her betrayal, in my self, because it would’ve been impossible for me to have fallen this low, if I did not carry the seeds of that degradation inside me. But what were these seeds, and how did they find room in me? What were their roots? My excursions in this direction lasted quite a long time—I was not able to come to a conclusion. And then one day it hit me. After reading an Italian short story, titled Vengeance my entire world of darkness became enlightened. I knew. I knew it all.

Here, with word-by-word translation, I am presenting you that story, which I am titling “He.”


In Venice, in the enchanting city of canals, gondolas, and renowned artworks and astonishing architecture, in a very noble family was living that family’s only offspring—beautiful Julia. She was so lovely that one would think she was not human, but a goddess of the seas who just came out from the foams of the oceanic waves. Her eyes were blue like the Italian sky, her gaze—eternal, like Adriatic’s horizons. Her wavy, golden locks ornamented her head. When she smiled (but when didn’t she?), her cute dimples would appear, just like when one throws a pebble in a lake. She was always jubilant, always flying here and there like a papillon, always energetic like a little child. She loved two colors: red and white. Two flowers were always present on her clothes: rose and lily. She herself was a flower, red or white.

It was a spring’s beautiful evening, that which was only possible near Adriatic. Julia was in her father’s palazzo’s top floor, busy trying to attach a red rose on her dress, so she could go out for a walk in Ponte Realto’s surroundings. As she was getting ready, she heard a sound of music, playing outside. A masterful hand was playing a serenade on a violin. Julia ran to her open window with anticipation to find out who it was.

The violinist was a young Italian, wearing a fedora. The melody he played was so tender and majestic, that Julia felt as if he was playing on her soul’s strings. She mechanically got half of her body out from the window, and listened attentively. Her whole essence became aural, greedily consuming every note that the young man played. She held her breath, so she does not miss a pitch. The tears of awe were playing in her eyes.

Finally, the melody stopped, and every sound in nature seemed to have stopped along with it.

“Look up, maestro! Who are you?” exclaimed Julia.

The young man looked up.

“Take off your hat, so I can see your face!”

The violinist took off his hat at once, and cleared his forehead from his long hair. He finally looked up. His eyes were deep and contemplative like the music he played. He had a handsome, but sorrowful gaze, in which one could forever drown. What a proud face, on which was shining some celestial greatness . . .

“What is your name?” called Julia.


“Antonio, play something else for me.”

And again, the melody even more charming and gentle than before, amazed Julia who was nailed to the window, and who was thirsty for more, until the strings would groan and attenuate involuntarily.

“Antonio, tell me who you are.”

“I’m just an orphan.”

“Who was your father—do you know?”

“A laborer whom a machine killed under its force, in the factory he worked.”

“And your mother?”

“I never knew her.”

“Do you have a sister?”

“No relatives.”

“Would you like me to be your sister, and you—my brother? I’ll ask my father if you can live at our house, so you can always play your violin for me. My father is a very kind man, and loves me very much. He always fulfills my wishes. You don’t have to play for money anymore. We’re very rich.”

“I’m pleased to know that, Signora.”

“My name is Julia.”

“It’s a pleasure, Julia.”

“We won’t steal your pride from you, Antonio.”

“You will, when you give me a piece of bread.”

Julia threw a gold coin at his feet, and angrily ran away from the window. But then couldn’t help herself, and again appeared.

“Antonio!” she called.

The young musician who already took the money, and was leaving, stopped for a moment and looked up.

“Would you at least come and play every evening at my window?”

“I will, but not for this” said Antonio, showing the coin in his palm.

“For what then?”

“For beauty.”

This time at Antonio’s feet fell the red rose from the girl’s chest.

And he kept his promise.

Every evening, when the sun’s final rays were ornamenting the palazzo’s shiny, red rooftops, Julia’s ears were caressing new and even more enchanting melodies.

“Antonio, are you that conceited that you will not even agree to come upstairs, and play in my room?”

Antonio silently came up to her room.

“Antonio, are you that conceited that you will not even agree to take a walk with me on the beach?”

Under the milky moonlight, on the peaceful waves of the sea was floating the gondola, from where Antonio’s violin’s sounds were singing a lullaby for the waves, and after a while extinguishing in the air.

“Antonio, are you that conceited, that you won’t let me put my head on your knee?”

“Ah . . . ” sighs Antonio, and plays his violin more rigorously, with interestingly new and unheard nuances.

Julia’s head rests on Antonio’s knee, and her big blue eyes look at his face with awe. In the gondola, moonlight mixes with the sparkles of her loose, white dress, in which she looks like a real sea goddess.

The young artist looks at the celestial beauty, who lays on his knee.

The violin goes silent. The young man brings his head towards her face. Their locks embrace each other, and their trembling lips find each other . . .

It was another ordinary evening, when the young artist was trying to get Julia to look from the window by playing his melody. Alas . . . the window was closed, and kept that way for that evening.

Evening after evening, he would play at her window, without his lovely spectator. The young man would not become devastated. He would play his violin gently at times, passionately at other moments, and sometimes commandingly. And sometimes his violin would play a melody that would beg and cry hopelessly.

When his violin was about to play last of its notes one evening, the window opened in half, and a piece of paper flew out, dancing in the air like an autumnal leaf until it reached the ground.

Anotonio lifted the paper and read:

“My father said that there is an abyss between you and me. We’re up here, and you are down there. Don’t come anymore. Forget me.”

He read the note and stood there silently, looking at the paper for quite a while. Then he staggered, threw a lightning glance at the palazzo, and wanted to tear the paper into pieces, but held himself. Then gently folded the paper, and put it in his pocket. He threw away the golden coin she once gave him, and holding his violin firmly to his chest, left the premises with the bitterness of the insult in his prideful heart.

No one ever saw the young musician in the streets of Venice.

Years passed.

Again in Venice.

The entire media and everyone in the city were talking about the renowned violinist Antonio Bonvinni, who was going to have his big concert in the city. In the last few years, not only Italians, but many around the world were astonished by this new star’s talent.

During the concert, the theater was absolutely filled with fans. The entire nobility was there to witness this new phenomenon.

Antonio Bonvinni . . . Everyone was waiting for his performance.

And finally, he arrived in stage.

The entire audience groaned like one entity.

“Isn’t this the Antonio whom everyone knew—that medieval troubadour who used to walk around the streets of the city, and play his violin?”

“Yes, yes, that is him—same notes, but this time he is confident, even more prideful than before, reserved, and courageous.”

And those sounds of his violin . . . O, those sounds were still the same--enchanting and beautiful like the person who played them. Everything—his face, his figure, his hair were in perfect harmony with his melodies.

After playing last of his notes, maestro left the stage, leaving the audience in cemetery-silence, under some kind of a spell. And then, after seemingly eternal seconds, everyone stood at once, applauding, and applauding, and applauding . . .

“Antonio . . . Antonio Bonvinni . . . New Stradivarius . . . "

The crowd hurried outside, to see the young artist leave, and to press his hand, congratulating and letting him know their amazement.

Maestro was tired. He locked himself in his room, and told his secretary that he cannot speak to any fan at the moment.

But then she notified him that there is a woman who insists on seeing him.

“I am unable.”

“She is the wife of a very famous man” and the secretary gave a last name that was difficult not to recognize.

“Let her in.”

Beautiful as Raphael’s painting, dressed like a queen, a woman walked in who came forward and fell at maestro’s feet.

“Antonio, my dear Antonio, it’s me, your Julia. I love you . . . "

The young man, confused, lifted the woman up to her feet. His eyes were sparkling with strange light. It was the same gaze, very familiar to the one he threw on the palazzo when leaving its premises, insulted.

Without saying a word, he took out from his pocket a notebook, and from there—a folded paper. He handed this to Julia.

Julia took the paper, and blushed for a moment and became the color of the rose that was attached to her chest.

“Read it Signora, read it.”

She mumbled: “My father said that there is an abyss between you and me. We’re up here, and you are down there. Don’t come anymore. Forget me.”

Antonio took the paper from her trembling hands, gently folded it and put it in his notebook, and said, “Forgive me, Signora that although I stopped visiting you, I never forgot you. This paper you don’t know how valuable is to me. If it weren’t for this, I wouldn’t have become who I am today. I could never forget you, but you seem to have forgotten that abyss that separated us. You were up there, and I was down somewhere. You ignorantly looked at the ones who were down there, but you never considered that those ones sometimes get wings and fly high. I promised myself to take vengeance by flying higher and higher, constantly flying until those looking from their castles looked up at me. I accomplished my goal. But to love someone who insults one’s most cherished feelings, who finds a difference between the up there and down there, alas Signora, I cannot.”

This is how the Italian story ends.

A story that is very much familiar with my tale, with one striking difference: Here was I, who was born in the bourgeois class, always living in luxury, with many comforts in life, a softly raised intelligent who from one hit fell, and fell with no point of return. Then there was He, who was born in the proletariat, with his iron-built determination, who did not once falter from life’s strikes, but decided to rise and rise and rise, and then from the summit spread his venom of vengeance on those who talked about the differences between the haves and have nots. This is a revenge worthy of reverence.