Before I elaborate on the myth we created, I have to emphasise that Toni is actually a very conscientious person. Whenever we went to museums, he would warn me with a very harsh and subdued voice that I shouldn’t touch any of the artifacts. There was only once that, when we visited the Zeiss glass museum in Jena, he triggered off the alarm by taking off a painting from the wall so that I could see it from a better angle. When he heard the alarm, he quickly woke up from his trance, put back the painting and tried to frown as if he was annoyed by some unknown culprit around us. In the next few days he was gripped with guilt and would not allow me to say a single word about it. One and half years later, when we stepped into the Deutschen Museum in Munich, we had long forgotten about Toni’s blunder and viewed every exhibition with some awe. There were lots of old machines from the industrial revolution period such as steam engines and complicated gears. There was even one hall which displayed the steel making process, where I felt a strong surge of pride about my career for the first time.
As we walked down into the basement, we came across a huge labyrinth of coal mines with dimly lit rooms. This was the dark side of Europe’s glory, where so many people toiled, sweltered and perished inside. The atmosphere became notably heavy, and most visitors only lingered briefly before returning to the bright daylight. Because of our long absence, Toni and I became a bit excited and held each other more tightly. The gloominess did not make us claustrophobic, but gave us an unspeakable sense of freedom to explore each other without the risk of being observed. With some tacit agreement, we walked further and deeper into the darkness, and with a twist to the left, we slipped into a pitch black room. We hugged each other and started kissing passionately. Just as we were about to enjoy a bit more, Toni suddenly stopped and stiffened his back cautiously. After a few seconds, I heard some muffled noise approaching in our direction. We became more and more nervous as the noise got louder, and I could distinguish around three or four children’s voices… Naughty children’s voices when they were about to play some pranks or break some rules… I looked up hopelessly at Toni. They could come in any time and discover us in such an embarrassing state. Well, we had our clothes on, but what would they think we were doing in such utter darkness? We must seem so crazy to them! My premonition became true when they decided to send one boy to examine our room. I secretly prayed that he would not be able to see us, but even that wish was crushed when our room was suddenly lit up by a torch light. What happened next was totally another milestone for Toni. On the spur of the moment, he jumped out of the room with the ferocity of a wild animal and roared at the poor intruder with all his might. There was a weak scream, followed by a quick retreat, followed by a few more frightened screams and flight of desperate steps. In less than five seconds, there was only complete silence left.
After we recovered from our shock, we became truly worried about the trauma Toni had inflicted upon the children. He was again gripped with guilt, and almost wanted to talk to every child in the museum so that he could identify those brats and tell them that he was not a monster or ghost. Before long, our guilt was resolved when we went down to the coal mines again, and saw a considerable number of children running about and screaming. Apparently they had shared their horror story with others and made some new friends. We were relieved that it did not leave a permanent scar on the children, but we did wonder if they would recount this story to their grandchildren one day, where we would become part of the myth 🙂
Figure 1: Deutschen Museums where we created a myth