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Opernplatz , Berlin , Germany
10 May 1933
It was probably 8.34 or 9.02 p.m. , Thitiwat Thanakornchai was not so sure about it , as the atmosphere around him was not totally cavernous, but horrendous. The only light ,before him and his colleagues, was from the gigantic bonfire like they were the primitive tribe, relishing the warmth from it in their cozy cave at night. But at this moment , they could feel their bodies pitifully cringing with terrors ,while the bonfire was like a boa devouring its preys which were the books they had long worshipped as their talismans.
More tragically , the persons ,who were feeding the preys to that ferocious beast, were the university students who used to attend Thitiwat's lectures with humility and politeness. Now aside from throwing those books into the bonfire , they were fanatically chanting slogans , screeching or doing whatever their wild hearts desired, in this orgy of ' terminating decadent books of the Third Reich'. Their abrupt transformations from timidity to the act of demonic possession were presumed to be caused by the fact they had just been the members of Deutsche Studentenschaft (German Student Union) - the lackey of Nazi party.
In recent years , those students had been imbibed by Fascism and the idea of sacred Germans-ness as Ubermensch (superman) , the superior race. Those poor books had been plundered from book stores and libraries and brought straight by them and SA * to inferno, as they were accused of defiling that German-ness -in other words- against the ideology of Nazis .Moreover , their authors were merely Jews , Anarchists, leftists , liberals or whoever the Nazis have loathed in their bones.
Thitiwat and his colleagues in this minute discerned that the reason they had been invited (or actually coerced) to witness such an utter frenzy was that the party's anti-intellectual stance. They would rejoice to see the fearful university lecturers banging their heads against a brick wall by piteously recanting the fervent beliefs in liberalism and demorcacy.
One SA officers , who took part in supervising the students, walked towards the humiliated and flustered lecturers . His body was so towering that Thitiwat feel like his own head was slightly taller than his waist. His gesture was extraordinarily calm and friendly ,like the predator who camouflaged himself before striking his preys. He smiled and lit a cigarette before proffering others to them , but no one wanted to smear their lips and lungs with the Nazi's nicotine.
Albeit the darkness , the SA guy noticed Thitiwat and asked.
"You are not German. Where are you from ? China or Samoa Islands ? "
Thitiwat smiled wryly.
"No , I am Thai , my homeland is Siam **." He feel relieved that he didn't say 'he was Siamese' for the reason that his muddled German language might make it sound at the end like 'Jewish'.
Another SA officer, who was almost as tall as the first, ambled to join his comrade and learnt about this embarrassing ice breaking. He yelled out,
"Ha , I know this country. My nanny sometimes used to read about it before my bedtime. It beautifully resembles a faraway kingdom in a fairy tale -extremely exotic and sweltering .Perhaps we might spend our lifetimes journeying to there . Hey , Professor , the rest of your people live in jungle and raise elephants as their vehicles , right ?"
Both of SA officers snickered in a way that made them the perfect Aryan villains. Thitiwat really wanted to punch those sons of a bitch in the faces , but it was certain that his fist would never reach them. Apart from being brutally beaten, he would definitely land on the newly built concentration camp.
However , they were suddenly interrupted by Dr.Heinrich , the head of History Department.
"For Christ's sake ! Stop harassing my crew. Why the hell do you want us to be here? We are wasting our time for witnessing such vulgar display of your hubris which is wreaking havoc on our civilization."
Barely would the bald and chubby professor finish his audacious question , another guy , whom Thtiwat thanked god as he was almost as tall as him, suddenly swaggered towards here. He received the Nazi salutes by the previous two. Then he was treated with the acts that looked like military officers in spite of the fact that they were paramilitary. There had been a brouhaha among Thitiwat's colleagues, followed by the whispers that he was Ernst Roehm, the leader of SA.
The brawny man, with moustache below the visible permanent scar on his face ,evoked the fierce image of gangster leader in Hollywood's films of this decade. Accompanied by a herd of his SA hoodlums , Roehm was notorious for his incredibly assorted use of violence and became one of the most intimidating figures in this fledgling Third Reich.
" All of you seem to know nothing ,even our country is on the verge of returning to be the great power again by our great leader and us , the SA as the vanguard of national socialist revolution. You have probably brainwashed our youths for a long time. The unrepentant liberals like you have preached them to be disloyal and insubordinate to our 'Vaterlaend' [fatherland] .You indeed should be sent to concentration camps or into the bonfire like the books of your favorite writers. But we still give you a chance to teach the authentic German values to our children. "
Roehm was talking gibberish but trying to conceal it under a veneer of self-aggrandizement. The tough guy, who had collaborated with Hitler in Beer Hall Putsch a decade ago ,pointed his plump finger to the youngsters who began to sing the song that glorified the Nazi party and Hitler.
" Watch these ! Now they are the Hitler's youths not yours. They will keep an eye on your lectures and report us whether you conform to the ideology of the Third Reich. If not , you are going to regret for the rest of your lives. By the way , the president of your university was already summoned to the Reich Ministry of Science, Education and Culture. He would certainly pass the order and new curriculum to all of you in no time."
Thitiwat wondered, from then on , if the quirky fate had compelled him to opine via lecture in classroom that Herr Chancellor [Hitler] was actually the Machiavellian who used any ruse to obtain his power ,would he have been thrown into the bonfire like 'Civilization and Its Discontents' of Sigmund Freud or 'Siddartha' of Hermann Hesse ? If so , how was Germany still praised for being a bedrock of world civilization and the birthplace of Goethe or Beethoven , when it was descending into such a naked and unbearable barbarity ?
Thitiwat hope that if his blunders happened by any chance , the Siamese embassy would scramble to bail him out.But he did not know either whether it was the possible mission, as since March - the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which consented to Hitler’s dictatorship .Thus even ridiculing Hitler a bit was some kind of blasphemy. This country used to impress him tremendously when it had been the so-called liberal Weimar Republic. But the Nazis increasingly engulfed everything he felt familiar with. Life in this land was getting creepier and creepier.
Thitiwat suddenly think of Siam.
*Sturmabteilung , the paramilitary of Nazi party
**Siam was changed to Thailand in 1939 during the era of Field Marshall Plaek Phibulsonggarm
"When you think of Siam , what's on your mind first , Thitiwat ?"
Sofia nudged him when she noticed that he began to be absent-minded.
"Ah ............" Thitiwat's thought was wandering around somewhere else , but he still roughly grasped what the person nearby was trying to say.
" I have spent more than half of my life abroad especially here. I am sorry that my memory about anything in my homeland was quite sketchy , " stuttered he.
It was so comical that when Thitiwat was among the male colleagues , he would enjoy the lively chatters between them. But when he was among the ladies , he would feel incredibly bashful and often blushed ,as a longtime bachelor like him.
This morning was still the remnant of last night's nightmare. The lecturers also had to endure the summons from the university's administration to learn about how to conform to the ideology of the Third Reich , in other words , how to survive from the Nazi's savagery. Cult of personality for Herr Hitler was anticipated for annexation in every course taught in universities nationwide. Unbelievable that such a narrative became compulsory in the do it -or-die style in the education of the country once inhabited by the renowned philosophers like Kant or Hegel.
Thus today became their de facto holiday as all the lecturers had to bitterly spend time adjusting their styles of teaching with their tails between their legs .More importantly, all the fanatic students had intended to skip their classes to join other activities of the Nazis.However, their peers ,who had thought Hitler was just the deranged clown, also skipped class in order not to make themselves too conspicuous.
It was 10.15 a.m. Thitiwat found himself being not so ensconced in a tea shop with several of his female colleagues , who last night had stood cringing beside him. Their conversation seemed initially frivolous , but somehow perilous when someone mocked Roehm ,their tormentor, as the pervert or the sadist henchman of Hitler. So, their friends subtly changed it to be the far- from- Gestapo * topic like the gossip about the fifth divorce of their German heartthrob , travels in Switzerland or South Africa ,and then regrettably ,Thitiwat's life.
Martha asked him cheerfully.
"Thitiwat , we have been colleagues for a long ... long time, but we hardly know about your life. I used to watch the news reel about your country ; it was not exactly like that SA thug was prattling. So, this is a good time that I would learn it from the native like you. Please reminisce about it."
" All right , it is a tiny country with no more than 20 million population. If you really want to know where in the world it is , just think about China and we are somewhere beneath her."
Martha chuckled. " I know that , but I just heard that last year  there was .......... , how would I call, coup d'etat that overthrew the monarchy in your country ? "
" Yes , the group of civilians and military officers conspired to change the regime from the absolute monarchy to be the limited Monarchy. Perhaps we might call this the revolution or some sort , but I'd better not to label it ,since it must take time to prove that that group is actually leading our country to equality and prosperity like their propaganda. By the way , the group's leader ** , the senior soldier, graduated from here. He was in the same class as Hermann Goering [another henchman of Hitler]."
"Wunderbar ! Why on earth are both of our countries running in the opposite ways ? Yours : towards democracy and ours : towards oligarchy ruled by the gang of psychopaths," whined Elisabeth.
Sofia quickly hushed her friend up.
"Shush ........ watch your mouth , you idiot ! Remind yourself that Gestapo has just been established last month by Goering. Don't you know how they have interrogated the suspects as the Nazi's dissidents ? Look at you , just one big slap at your face , you will pee yourself to death."
The silence of tea shop was broken by the nervous laughter, though there was no one else around them even the waitress.
Martha turned to Thitiwat.
"What about your parents ?"
"Tragically , my mother passed away long time ago. My father was a higher-up in the king's government. When the coup ,or whatever you want to call , was spectacularly staged in the middle of last year , he was immediately suspended from his dignified post. Within a month, he resigned. Whether it was from his own will or not , I don't know."
" Ach so! , you must have harbored the resentment against those coup promoters , mustn't you ?" Muttered Elizabeth.
"No , not at all. Even though I am not sure about them , if I have been there last year , I would have certainly joined them without a flinch." Thitiwat beamed.
Everybody grimaced a little with surprise.
"We are talking with the revolutionary mind here , aha. Don't you think of your father or going back to Siam ? You seem not to go back there for the ages. " Sofia was curious.
No sooner had Thitiwat answered that than a sound from piano lingered at the rear of coffee shop. The girls around his table seemed to be nonchalant. When the (not so) young man excused himself , they went on another hilarious topic and giggled.
It was the song he probably heard from somewhere or perhaps his another life. It was melodious with its own style that sounded stately like both Mozart and Brahms' piano sonata combining. But it surpassed them by conveying the melancholy deep inside. Thitiwat felt like it was the enticement that had lured him to walk towards its source.
Along the way , he had indulged in the shop's interior wall painted in the color of apple green which evoked the serenity of nature. It was also decorated by the painting of famous painters like Gustav Klimt and Claude Monet whose colorful 'landscape on the ile saint martin' contrasted with the wall. Their elegances were facing the challenge from a large embroidery which was affixed to the wall near a door with black cherry color. It had an image knitted with Chinese pattern that looked like the ancient palace. The pendulum clock above the backdoor seemed to greet him with solemnity.
The piano was almost in the middle of the small garden which was embellished by the white flowers , and especially the violet flowers that Thitiwat assumed was Cornflower. The little red flowering vines beautifully crept along the wall and its window.
The piano player was quick to notice his presence.
* secret police of the Nazi party
** Phaya Phahol , the leader of Kanarasadorn , or the People's Party
She stopped playing and looked a bit bewildered.
"Sorry , is my playing disturbing you or something?"
"No , on the contrary , it is beautiful enough to attract me to take liberties of stepping in your secret tryst ."
Thitiwat replied and tried to make his smile look as cordial as he could.
The young woman's round eyes opened wider to show her pleasantness. She promptly rose from the stool chair , letting her long and sleek blond hair magnificently unravel. He was impressed that she was extraordinarily tall, but quite skinny , that one might describe that she was lanky. But it didn't blemish her majesty at all.
She smiled and nodded - one of the most polite German woman Thitiwat had ever met.
"I hope you and your friend will enjoy our shop ,even though it has just been open for only a month. Perhaps our employees are not properly trained or not satisfactory. Please feel free to give your opinions."
She said with modesty as a shop owner, and he could feel it was authentic.
"The vibe of your shop was marvelous and peaceful. The decoration shows that the one designing it has an exceptional taste. Although the waitress might be elusive sometimes , it helps the customers enjoy some privacy. I have never found the place like this in Berlin..... By the way, what is the name of the song you just played?"
The young man then was surprised to find that all his timidity before woman had vanished . Perhaps he found her too attractive to humiliate himself by acting clumsily as usual ,or she could likely have a divinity that was soothing him.
The young woman nodded again with thankfulness.
"Thank you ..... For the song , it doesn't have name yet ,as I just completed it yesterday. And I presume it is unnecessary to name it , because I am willing to play only for myself any way , Professor Thitiwat."
The young man was utterly flabbergasted.
"How do you know my name?"
She waved her hand and rushed to grab a book from the shelf that was not far from the garden. Its title was 'The Brief Asian History in Early 20th Century'.
"I believe you are its author , right ? "
Thitiwat smiled meekly.
"Yes , please acknowledge my gratitude that you are probably 1 in only 100 persons who have bought my books. Their sale has been lamentably dull for a long time. If they were flowers , they perhaps were withering or dead right now after bitterly cursing their author. "
She didn't laugh at his lame joke and flicked through the book.
"What a pity ! I read it a few weeks ago, and it was packed with information and thought -provoking. It was unputdownable that sometimes I had spent almost all night reading it. Please sign your autograph here."
"Who would you like me to sign for ? " The young man snatched the fountain pen from his pocket inside the overcoat and felt amused that his right hand was a little shaking.
"Marian Borrmann, that's my name." She beamed and fixed her eyes on him for a long time. He could feel that even though those blue eyes were bewitching, some melancholy was lurking inside them , just like her song."
"I am so thrilled to meet the author of the book which has been my charming companion for weeks. Please let me pay you back."
Marian said and put down the book received from him.She then walked to the piano which also looked imposing like her. Her another song began in vibrancy and then changed its mood to be grave within a minute. Thitiwat felt that its ravishing body was gradually penetrating his ears , his brain and his imagination. There emerged on his mind the picture of a little boy riding bicycle on the vast greenery field , and a girl of about his age was also riding in tow. The big brown dog was running after them and barking with jollity.
He knew those were him in his childhood and the girl ? Yes , his older sister. Miraculously , through her song , he was beholding the torrent of many other things : the garden with the small wooden pavilion in the vicinity of his old house , the warmish smile of young woman - that was his mother tenderly kissing and holding him . It looked like she was whispering something to him , but sadly it was unintelligible. Behind her was the rays of sunlight that went through the leafy branches in the afternoon. The young man saw several birds on the trees , but he couldn't hear them chirping.
Thitiwat now found that his long forgotten memories of childhood in Siam were partly revived by her song , despite its obscurity. Suddenly when he looked at her sweet but solemn face while passionately pressing the piano keyboard , he thought Marian was so mystic ; perhaps she was an angel or a celestial being, sent from above to rescue him. The young man felt his eyes moist with a few drops of tear. He nodded to her and muttered ."
" Thank you , thank you very much."
"I guess you have been held spellbound by Fraulein * Borrmann's charms , is that utterly correct ?"
Elizabeth said and grinned with mischief. Thitiwat flinched at the feistiness of her voice , so he pretended not to hear her. Now they were in the middle of wading through the papers for the conference of their department ,as its employees were being on strike. They then just felt bored and paused amidst the large pile of rubbish documents for the hurly-burly which yielded much less than the time they had wasted.
"Don't plead no guilty of your misdemeanor. I know that day I had intended to call you for our departure , but I heard your conversation and that bizarre music , so I backed off. Don't jitter , Thitiwat, as our fellows who have visited that tea shop and met her, would always feel like they are being intoxicated by her beauty."
"Is that so ? We had a little chatter, and she just played the sublime music for me, because she had enjoyed reading my book," Thitiwat contradicted , trying to calm down his tone.
Gunter -another colleague who was sitting with catapult pose- broke into their conversation.
"Thitiwat , you are so incredible. My friends had relentlessly pursued Fraulein Borrmann. But they finally found their devotion became the waste of time ,when they received just her cryptic and lukewarm smiles."
Elizabeth giggled and stared at Gunter.
" That includes you , Gunter ? I hardly believe that you the great womanizer wouldn't use your coquettish smile to flirt with her. Um Himmels willen ! **, don't you guys ever know that Fraulein Borrmann is the daughter of General Gerhold Borrmann , the erstwhile subordinate of Paul von Hindenburg [the current president of Germany] during the Great War ? Now he is widely respected as a living legend , even by Hitler."
Thitiwat looked through the window and saw the huge Swastika flag that had just been hung on the façade of the building, belonging to the office of his university's president.
Unreasonably, he flushed when thinking about the smile of Marian.
Gunter frowned and lowered his tone.
" That's the new information I have never known , ugh .... I and Oliver had for long taken for granted that her surname accidentally shared with that illustrious general's. She was very self-effacing."
Thitiwat closed his eyes briefly and asked Elizabeth.
"What is her occupation ? I mean her job or something, because her family must be so prestigious ,and she can just keep idle for the rest of her perfect life "
"I am not certain. Perhaps she is a kind of writer or the amateur pianist for a symphony orchestra , somewhere in the west. She is actually reserved and taciturn , although some malicious gossip is that she puts on airs."
Thitiwat roared and he was startled to find such an outburst from himself.
"No !..... She was so humble. I thought she might be too introverted , that's all ."
Elizabeth and Gunter looked at each other and snickered.
"Now we are stumbling on another victim of broken heart tragedy written by Fraulein Borrmann. Please stop your conjecture that you are in the same league as her , Thitiwat."
Elizabeth was warning him to resign himself to the ultimate truth.
"Elzibeth , you are assuming too much. I am just impressed with her , that doesn't mean I fall for her."
"Really ? " She smirked.
" I am a good lie detector.Why are you blinking rapidly ? Don't try to conceal your desire. I know it.......Hey , both of you , bear in your filthy minds that Fraulein Borrmann has already been engaged to a handsome young lieutenant. He is currently serving in the elite team of German Army. Apart from being the most brilliant mind in the cadet school - top grade in class ,he has a Greek god-like demeanor and about 190 centimeters in height. And his fiancée's height is roughly 180 centimeters."
She kept talking with smiling face and raised her hand horizontally in the direction of Thitiwat's head as a gesture of comparison.
" Whereas yours , so deplorably, is only 170 centimeters or less. Believe me , I am also a reliable measuring instrument which precisely gauges everything. By the way, My friend told me she had crashed some party for the elites last month. She saw both of them there along with General Borrmann. In their dazzling evening dresses , Fraulein and her fiancé were statuesque like a couple from heaven - the limelight of the party."
Martha, who had been working quietly on other corner , interrupted her with agitation.
"Fraulein know-them-all , you are even shorter than Thitiwat ! I know your height is only 167 centimeters. You guys , hasten your job right now, before Professor Heinrich would chew your heads off within 10 minutes. Remind him that the most important issue in this conference is when we will put 'Mein Kempf' *** in our newly revised curriculum. If he resists like the previous time , this means we might get some notice from the administration."
It was an irony from Thitiwat's quirky fate .Whilst the young man felt alienated with the increasingly oppressive atmosphere of German politics , he at last found consolation and euphoria from someone in this atmosphere too. However , as a non-Aryan foreigner with dark skin and only 171 centimeters in height (Elizabeth was wrong), he found 'someone' such a far distant from him -someone ,who was Aryan aristocrat with white skin and her grandeur seemingly towered above everything he had.
Every now and then , Thitiwat had visited that tea shop , the shop of tranquility , with the feeling of zealotry , just to meet Marian or Fraulein Borrmann again. If he wasn't too intoxicated by her blue eyes , he would muster his courage to ask why her music could help him to regain some lost memories. Dejectedly , the young man could not find her at all ,and her employee told him that she had been scheduled to be out of town for weeks for the performances of her piano concert. So, he just sat on the chair in the garden by himself , watching the grand piano and being preoccupied with her shadow. He caressed the piano as he thought it might help him to literally touch her music which kept resounding on his mind for weeks. And he felt like it became an essential part of his life now.
Thitiwat reconciled himself to some fact.Though he would become the 4th or 5th victim of Marian's aloofness , if he tacitly revealed his true feeling for her in the coming days , he didn't care.
Nonetheless , there was a puzzle on his befuddled mind by now : how she knew who he was because there was not even a single shot of his picture in that history book. There were perhaps a million answers for this puzzle on his mind ,while he was deep in a slumber, besides the sweet dreams of her face.
** For heaven's sake
*** The notorious autobiography book of Hitler
" Hey , Look at you ! " blurted Thitiwat out with delight.
An Asian man, who was almost in the same age as him, had just barged in his private office. Even though that man was quite whiter than him , Thitiwat presumed ,in the eyes of Aryan tribe , they probably were the same - Untermensch or subhuman , like the Jews.
"Take a seat , Narongrit ! A week ago , I heard you just moved from the embassy in Paris to here. Sorry that I had been laden with tons of work , so I could not join the welcome party for you."
Thtitwat said with smiling face and put down the fountain pen on papers. Narongrit threw himself on the chair with exhaustion.The short and rotund man had frequently been using handkerchief to wipe off the sweats from his cheek and arms in this sweltering day in Berlin.
"That's all right. I am also busy arranging the transportations of all my possession to here. This also includes 1 nagging wife and 3 wailing headstrong children. What a burden ! I often curse myself for choosing the career of diplomat. I presumed It was an honorable career and a gateway to see the world. But it was sometimes like all hell breaking loose," Narongrit fumed.
" C' mon , let me buy you a coffee or tea. Not far from here , there is one lovely tea shop." Thitiwat then thought about Marian again.
" Not yet. I prefer to drink a thousand bottles of fancy whiskey with you and our other friends and get drunk all year , only If I am completely unfettered."
Narongrit said and sneezed before using the same handkerchief to wipe his nose.
"Look at us , old pal. You and me are both alike, the wandering spirit who never set his foot on his own homeland for almost decades."
Thitiwat murmured with lamentation , leaning on his revolving chair's backrest with catapult pose.
" C'est la vie [that's life] , Monsieur." Narongrit beamed. "If you feel depressed about living in a foreign soil, welcome to Siam , and you will straight away return to the country you had just fled."
" How come ? " Thitiwat raised his eyebrows.
"This is the reason why I come here , Thitiwat. Have you learnt the news of Khana Ratsadon's recent coup yet ? "
"No , I have not kept abreast of the news from Siam at all. I have been immersing myself in readjusting my teaching to the history course that the university's administration ,or the flunky of the Nazi's party, will approve of." Thtitwat used his finger to tab on the desk.
" Aha , Germany might be an exception. It is becoming more perilous now with the rise of the far-right. I wonder whether in the future Siam would be reaching the same destiny as her. "
Narongrit paused for a while and went on.
"Don't you know, Phraya Manopakorn Nititada , the first prime minister of Siam Khana Ratsadon had relied on , just turned out to be the tyrant who had longed for the return of absolute Monarchy. He used a decree to suspend some sections of constitution and halt the parliament's activities."
" Really ? I met him once in England. I can't believe a savvy aristocrat like him would be so dictatorial." Thitiwat was puzzled a bit.
"Look can be deceiving , my friend. Politics is such an odd creature. Even if you are the saint , when you blend in the politics , you will finally be evil while still thinking you are preserving your saintly pureness."
" Genius remark ,and what happened then ? " drawled Thitiwat to tease his friend.
" Phraya Phahon , the leader of Khana Ratsadon became aware that their revolution would turn to be at last futile , hence another coup.Phraya Mano was banished to Penang , probably would die there eventually," droned Narongrit , although the situation he was explaining was very tense.
"Now Khana Ratsadon is increasingly paranoid ; they believe there are still the networks of royalist which are lurking somewhere , hell -bent on dismantling the legacies of their revolution. Many senior government officers' names have been put on the list , and , in all likelihood, purged like your father , " The young fat man said and took liberties with the candies from Thitiwat's desk.
" I have a foreboding that more ferocious storms are advancing on their ways , correct ? "Thitiwat stood up and leaned on the edge of window.
"That's correct , Thitiwat. There might be more coup d'etats that could escalate into civil war. And Siam would turn to be a failed state. Or at least , some members of Khana Ratsadon could become dictatorial like Phraya Mano , or even more, on the pretext of protecting the government's stability."
Narongrit finished his apocalypse and then revealed the his ulterior aim.
"The problem is the officers in every Siamese embassy worldwide , including me , have been ordered to keep an eye on the Thai expatriates in any countries. Anyone can be suspicious of harboring the counter-revolution attitudes or regularly in contact with the so-called royalists. Fate doesn't smile at you, Thitiwat. Your name is the first on the list in Europe , thanks to your family background."
Thitiwat roared with laughter.
"Thank you for being straightforward with me. I am bored to death with the intimidations from that darn Nazis ,and then I find the same thing from the government of my homeland. "
" I know you always support Khana Ratsadon , but they still distrust you anyway. You used to tell me that you always wanted to return to Siam , didn't you ? If you do that , you will be far more in trouble than staying here." Narongrit then looked at the view outside ; he whistled when seeing the Nazi flags along the street
"It is none of my concern , perhaps I just want to leave for visiting my family briefly before moving on to the other country like Canada or Australia. But this will happen only Germany finally becomes the full-blown authoritarian state,"
Thitiwat said but then thought he himself was bullshitting .
"Good for you. But if you want to settle down in Siam , I have some brilliant solutions to help you.By the way, I have to leave now as millions of travails at embassy are eagerly awaiting me. Keep in touch and so long! "
Narongrit smiled and shook hands with his longtime friend.
After escorting his friend out of the building , Thitiwat finally started walking on the way to teach some course at another building. The weather might be unusually hot , but at least he could relish a gentle breeze that had shaken the branches of pine trees along his paths. Although it was a day with strong sunlight, there were still the scattering thick clouds. They reminded him of his childhood that he dreamt with his sister that there was a mystic kingdom amidst those fluffy cottons and it would be their eternal sanctuary. Funny that the 34 - year -old man like him at present secretly had longed for that place as the world was seemingly descending into the colossal bedlam.
Later , Thitiwat came across the reason why his university had been installing the Nazi flags along the streets, and he thought it was the unashamed act of sycophancy. A bulletin board in the building he entered was covered by some colorful posters ,informing about the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda , as everyone called in awe , Dr. Joseph Goebbels. He was scheduled to deliver the speech in the main hall of university next Tuesday.
Dr. Goebbels , the most cultured man in the Nazi' party, was unarguably the most important and devoted underling of Hitler who was the dropout of secondary school. Goebbels had played a crucial role in propelling the party to the power by his talent of literature in a form of propaganda that had brainwashed the German people to hate Jews and love Hitler to smithereens. Thitiwat was amused that both he and Goebbels were almost the same age , but the latter was upstart and now in the highest echelon of power in this country.
However , Herr Reichminister's appearance was far from the ideal type of Aryan. He was quite ugly with sunken cheeks and comical form of skull. Apart from a diminutive figure , Goebbels also had a deformity of the right foot. That was why he was the notorious womanizer ,even though he had already got married , just to compensate for this.
Thitiwat learnt that he and his colleagues missed the chance of meeting Goebbels in that night of book burning. As they had been allowed to leave the orgy site before Goebbels arrived and made the speech that had boosted morale and delusion simultaneously for the SA and the hard-line students. But it was ironic that the cringing lecturers would cross paths with Goebbels at last , as the university administration had urged them to listen to his incitement of fanatic patriotism and antisemitism. It might be under a veneer of an invitation , but no one could ensure that the malingerer would be safe afterwards.
Today in his class , the students were unusually enthusiastic as a topic was about the country they had seldom or never heard in their entire lives : Siam during the formation of absolute monarchism, that was the era of King Chulalongkorn. The students ,as the Hitler youth, were boisterous as they probably reminisced about the night the SA bullied the lecturers. And they also thought they had the upper hand in the class. But when Thitiwat urged them to be silent, they followed this ; perhaps they were fond of him and eager to learn more about 'this extremely exotic and sweltering country'. The lecture room with dozens of students thus turned to be quiet as usual.
By the time their lecturer talked about the threat of England and France to Siam in the manner of colonialism , some chauvinistic student promptly raised his hand. He expressed his opinion that Siam fell prey to the colonialism ,similar to Germany which had been oppressed by the Treaty of Versailles after the Great War. Only the gallant knight like Herr Hitler would salvage this country and return it to the zenith of power like the glorious past.He also poignantly attacked that the voracious Jewish capitalists had secretly masterminded the governments of both France and England, including the United States of America. Thus all the Jews should be eliminated from this earth.Thitiwat thought this idea was from the speech of Goebbels that night (as he read from newspaper) .Herr Reichminister had already arrived here ,even without his actual presence.
However another female student who he thought was Jew ,or at least had the Jewish ancestors, loudly protested by saying that this was the conspiracy theory that had not been proved yet. The dark-haired girl was about to say something more , but she painfully kept her mouth shut. She flushed and clenched her fist as she was barely able to control her anger. Still , Thitiwat guessed that she wanted to passionately say something like ' That is the blatant lie of the Nazis who have exploited the antisemitism' or ' Hitler and Goebbels are just the dunderheads who can not think of other creative policies else to draw supports from the German people.' and so forth. But she was wise enough to know If she had dared to utter so , it meant she would have been able to live for only another 1 or 2 peaceful days , before several Gestapo agents would have visited her house, and the rest was history.
The bickering became more tense when many other students turned to support both of disputants. Some stood up and yelled , and some jabbered and pretended not to hear anyone. Thitiwat decided to immediately end it by using the cliche like ' This is a matter of opinion ' (which sounded deceitful for them, because they thought only their opinions were true anyway).
The young man finally managed to move to another chapter seamlessly. Although a few students , who believed they were the sons of Hitler, had from time to time furtively attempted to attack Jews and Zionism *, the majority of them turned to keep mum.Thitiwat presumed that many non -Jewish students were sympathetic toward the Jews but wanted to stay out of the trouble with the repressive authority as well.
Thitiwat also thought a load of students in this room might have been disappointed at him, considering that he didn't favor either of their sides ,especially the presumably Jewish girl who became bored to death with the redundant virulent rantings of the the Nazi leadership. Or the cantankerous Hitler Youth might report his reactions to the subordinate of Ernst Roehm - he didn't care.
The class was dismissed .Thitiwat sat at his desk , sulking and using hands to massage both of his temples while closing his eyes. He hoped the utter silence in this room would also help heal his headache from the political maelstroms surrounding him.
All of a sudden he felt someone was standing before him.
* Zionism is a religious and political effort that brought thousands of Jews from around the world back to their ancient homeland in the Middle East and reestablished Israel as the central location for Jewish identity. (history.com)
The person who was mysteriously appearing before his blurry eyes was Fraulein Borrmann. Thitiwat looked at her in a daze. Just the faint and mystic smile glinting across her face seemingly helped all headache he was enduring to vanish into thin air.
"Fancy meeting here, Fraulein Borrmann." Thitiwat was dumbfounded , but he could still carve out the words. The young man immediately rose up to his feet.
"Please call me Marian, Professor. Aren't you inquisitive how I knew who you were on the very first day we personally met ?
Beamed Marian. Her long blond hair was neatly collected behind her neck. She hid her shapely body inside the magnificent grey blazer suit and skirt. He noticed the large brooch of some kind of bird affixed to one of her collars.
"This is the most challenging mystery I have ever met in my entire life. It would lead to my overwhelming gratitude , if you just help me solve it.
Thitiwat smiled coyly and briskly packed all his things in the bags. Both of them began to walk together out of the forlorn lecture room. They were slowly stepping down the stairs without asking about the destination of each other. Thitiwat thought it would be marvelous to walk with her towards the rim of the world. However, he felt it was peculiar to accompany the woman who was taller than him.
" I had attended your class several times before you visited my shop - so sorry for not asking for permission. Please also don't blame yourself for oversight , because I have a gift of being invisible or at least blending well with your students," she said, perhaps in the smoothest voice he'd ever heard.
" I really want to praise you for this ,as I always check over all my students in this classroom. And I am astounded to have ignored you who must have been the most notable and beautiful woman among the audience. Fraulein Borrmann .... Marian ,are you from heaven or somewhere otherworldly ?" He said quietly and it sounded like a murmur.
Marian blushed and chuckled." No , You are flattering me. I am just a silly and clumsy girl that you could find in the next door. By the way, Just now I felt sorry for you that there were the uncontrollable dissensions among your irascible students. But I think you were impartial and extremely heedful of not escalating it."
Thitiwat nodded and said,
"How could I do anything as I am just a dark-skinned foreigner, and maybe I am a little better than that Jewish girl ? The current political tensions in this country are quickly exacerbated that almost no person would be able to stay neutral. All the lecturers here feel increasingly awkward to teach the class replete with the hard-liners of ...."
Thitiwat then refrained himself from criticizing the Nazis, because her father might be Hitler's acquaintance.
Marian said gently ," But you still made it. I thought most of your lectures ,especially Siam and China, are breathtaking. I actually want to travel there , if I have a chance. My late maternal grandfather once was a missionary working in Beijing. He miraculously survived the massacre by the Boxer Rebellion*."
Thitiwat was reminded of the embroidery at her shop and realized it was the shadow of her wanderlust. Suddenly the preposterous idea of luring her to elope with him to Siam descended on and made him blush. The young woman stopped to read the poster about Goebbels on the bulletin board. Thitiwat had anticipated some of her reactions or utterances , but she was still impassive and calm. She turned to stare at at him , and he felt like swooning because of the penetration of her intriguing eyes.
"Are you looking forward to listening to his speech?" asked Marian.
"I am afraid I have no choice, and you ?" Thitiwat looked clearly awkward.
Marian smiled instead of replying. Although he didn't know what she meant , he thought he'd better stop the inquiry. They then found a couple of Hitler's loving sons bullying and pushing around the lone girl, whom Thitiwat presumed to be Jewish, on the corridor to the exit of building. No sooner had Thitiwat begun to move than Marian darted to confront those savages and said something he could barely hear. The boys (whom Marian looked older than probably only a few years) had acted like they were being hypnotized. They relented and walked away. The Jewish girl nodded to Marian with gratitude before running to the opposite direction of those boys.
"Marian, I think you don't have a gift , but you have the supernatural power to manipulate people's minds! This is the puzzle for me why your music has revived my lost memories in childhood." Thitiwat looked at her in amazement.
Marian frowned. "That's not true, Professor. It is just the tactic how we convince the people to do what we want. I learnt it from reading the books of a renowned psychologist. Minutes ago I just told those boys that the real essence to be male chauvinist was to protect the weaker ,no matter who she was. In your part , my thesis for graduation was the method of therapy with music. I am really glad that it could help you this way."
"Ahh, I see." Thitiwat pretended to believe her. He didn't buy into the excuse that it was just the plain psychology ,as he could feel something more compelling than that.
"I know you are incredulous , but I think it wouldn't wreck our friendship , would it ? You are the first person I have talked to in such the long sentences in weeks. Moreover , you had attempted so much to visit me at my tea shop, and I failed you," She said in the calm voice, but he could find something in it. The young man was euphoric.
To be continued
* Between 1899- 1901, the Chinese who were supremely skillful at martial arts assembled to attack and massacre the foreign missionaries and thousands of Chinese Christians. They were later conquered by the alliance of foreign legions.
Marian seemed to remember something.
"I was about to go for rehearsal for the next concert in the auditorium of your university. How about going there with me ? Are you free in this hour ?
"Of course. I would, I am really glad to ..... it is my pleasure," spluttered Thitiwat. He thought even if she invited him to swim in the ocean full of sharks, he still wouldn't refuse.
Both of them were ambling along the pavement of the bustling street of university. Marian kept quiet all the time, and Thitiwat thought it was like she was in the meditation or drifting in the world that no one'd ever set foot in. All he could do was to just walk and often cast glance at her. Their silence was contrary to their enlivened atmosphere : the students were in commotion for starting other courses at the different buildings , leading to the traffic congestion.
The crowded tram was running slowly past them ; Thitiwat could see some of students staring at them in astonishment. Just the appearance of a woman and a man of Aryan and non-Aryan blood together might rouse the suspicion that the couple was breaking the taboo about race and sex. It became increasingly distinct since the Nazis had risen to prominence. Marian looked nonchalant , but Thitiwat dreamily wanted to sneak away with her to somewhere like the mystic kingdom amidst the clouds in the sky.
The auditorium of his university was incredibly gigantic.Its imposing exteriority with modern style was particularly designed to be harmonious with the environment which was the green sparse forest. It was believed to be one of the favorite places for rehearsal and performance of Wilhelm Furtwängler , Germany's greatest conductor and the famous orchestra like the Berlin Philharmonic he had led. Upon arrival in the building , Marian greeted and smiled to the employees with cordiality. Everyone seemed obviously delighted and humble before her presence like she was a princess who was visiting her subjects . However they couldn't conceal their surprises to see the dark-skinned and short foreigner like Thitiwat accompanying her like a friend - not a modest valet.
Inside a large hall , the handsome man ,who had the hawklike eyes , was reading the music notebook in front of the orchestra which its members were preoccupied with testing their own musical instruments. When noticing Marian , he vociferated with glee.
" Marian , good to see you as our orchestra will begin the rehearsal in 15 minutes."
Marian smiled timidly and apologized .She introduced Thitiwat to that guy with upright hair style. He was elegant in the thick sweater and looked much younger than Thitiwat - perhaps 9 or 10 years.
"Professor , this is Herbert Von Karajan , the future greatest conductor in the world.And Herbert , this is Professor Thitiwat from the Department of History."
Karajan smirked and shook hands with Thitiwat.
"Nice to meet you , Professor. Sorry to interrupt your precious time with Marian briefly. Please wait at the row of the audience. Or you can join us by citing the biography of Mozart along our rehearsal." He laughed cheekily.
Marian burst into laughter for the first time and said , " Herbert was born in Salzburg , the hometown of Mozart ,so we are going to rehearse the piano concerto of Mozart today. Can you guess which one ?"
Thitiwat paused for a while. " Normally the orchestra's most favorite one is his Concerto No 21 , but I really love No 23. It is so warmish , mellifluous and quite nostalgic with Mozart's childhood. So I dare to choose this one."
Marian and Karajan looked at each other. The young woman said in amazement.
" Are you a clairvoyant ? This is what we are going to rehearse now and play next Wednesday. I am so glad that it is your favorite."
Thitiwat nodded and asked Marian gently, while Karajan was rushing to warn his crews.
"Will it help cure my amnesia again ? "
"No , because it is the music of that 'Wunderkind' [Mozart] , not mine."
Marian said bluntly and sat on the stool chair. Thitiwat was a bit startled to see her caressing the piano exactly like he had done to her piano the other day , while she was fixing her eyes on him as if she had been teasing him. Later , the young woman had tested her piano by playing 'Clair de lune' of Claude Debussy roughly , but he thought she was still playing it beautifully.
Karajan had led the rehearsal of orchestra by spreading both of his arms with a baton in his right hand and adroitly move it around. Thitiwat , who sat alone at the audience's seat, flinched from time to time, as he saw Karajan roaring with anger when the musicians seemed no able to play like he had expected. He scowled and numerous times yelled like he was possessed by the demon who longed for the flawlessness of music.
On the contrary , when Karajan turned to Marian , he became unbelievably amiable and talked to her tenderly. Thitiwat felt it was reasonable because ,according to his rusty and scant knowledge of music, Marian could play piano superbly. But he believed that even if she made some mistakes , Karajan would still treat her the same. This was because the young woman had some mystic grandeur to make even the most enraged person think twice before letting off steam. Thitiwat also noticed the young man's eyes were full of affection towards her. Sometimes he thought that man stealthily touched her shoulders.Whether it was the lewdness or just the gesture of friend , he didn't know.But he knew that Marian often looked at karajan in awe and admiration in spite of his harshness with the musicians.
Thitiwat always reveled in the Piano Concerto No.23 , but this time he felt crestfallen instead, as he had witnessed the intimacy between the ambitious conductor and the gorgeous pianist . Now his rival was not only her 190 centimeter fiancé who was the fiercest solider in the German army , but also the world's future greatest conductor with the Bipolar Disorder and the narcissism. (Thitiwat later learnt that this year Karajan had successfully applied for the membership of the Nazi Party. It became the record that had kept tarnishing his image after the war and until the end of his life.)
The young man looked at Marian again and thought it was the best for him not to wait until the rehearsal took a break or ended , as his hope for Marian's love had pitifully faced the big hurdle. And he couldn't stand the heartache like he used to believe that he could many weeks ago. The young man noticed that several people were gradually entering the hall to observe the lively rehearsal and taking the seats not far from his .
Thitiwat nodded slightly and left.
Thitiwat really relished the beautiful scenery of the small lake behind his dormitory. He treasured it when the sunlight touched its surface which kept sparkling and also rippling in a myriad of small circles made by the breezes and some small insects. This also created the distorted picture of the gigantic oak tree and shrubs nearby. The falling red and yellow leaves of maple tree made the piles that looked like the colorful tapestries on the crystal clear water.
The young man was just sitting by himself on the bench quietly sometimes throwing the pebbles into the lake purposelessly. But he was then cautious of the bevy of white swans that were joyfully swimming in his vicinity. He also enjoyed being clung by the small dragonflies which he thought were like the small naughty urchins who were teasing him .The green finches had flown up to the high tree, buzzing and whizzing away. He could not see them but feel their gaieties.
The portly sixtysomething man with mustachios was carrying the bucket and the shovel and walking near him.
" Hey , you are back so early ," That man greeted him warmly. Thitiwat smiled back and moved his satchel bag to make the space for him.
"Uncle Max , I don't have any class and just feel bored of staying at the office for too long time," Thitiwat said dejectedly. He was lying again.
" Oh , good for you," Uncle Max slowly sat down and muttered impassively because he had utterly no idea about Thitiwat's career.He was the gardener who had been responsible for the areas around dormitories , including Thitiwat's, for decades . The old man was notorious for staunchly insisting to everyone that he used to be in the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division , the same regiment as Herr Hitler's during the Great War. He even claimed to often share the plate of meals under the crossfire with the current powerful chancellor. Many thought he was a bravado or a delusional codger thanks to the concussion from the war.
Uncle Max cleared his throat and asked him with curiosity , " I just heard that Dr. Goebbels was going to make a speech in our university, wasn't he ?"
"Uh-huh, certainly ,next week. It must be a grand ceremony. The university's president would be so obsequious: bowing down and putting silly smile on his wrinkled face ," Thitiwat murmured and then asked him in a bit livelier tone ," What do you think about Dr. Goebbels ? "
The caretaker paused for a moment and said ," He is the great orator , and I believe he will help our chancellor, my ex- solider fellow, to lead our country to the prosperity."
The young man was glad that Goebbels couldn't participate in the Great War because of his deformity, otherwise Uncle Max might have had another claim that would prolong their conversation for hours.
"What about another war ? In the distant future , will you support the Nazi party to lead Germany to wage the war with the western nations ?" Thitiwat asked quite louder ,because not far from them was the music from a radio at the balcony on the first floor of dormitory.
"Umm , I am not so sure about this. Professor , I don't like war since almost dozen of my childhood friend had perished from it . But it depended on Herr Hitler ; he had such the great insight. Perhaps we can conquer the great power like America without the tremendous loss of life.
"Uh-huh". Thitiwat then threw a little pebble to make the water ripple. His mind was wandering somewhere else ,but he still reminded himself that in spite of being the pacifist who was opposing the war , he ,as a foreigner, should be reticent and live long enough to return to Siam. However he was amused that the mass could support their leader to wage war without any rationality - just the pure conjecture from the state's propaganda.
Aunt Hilde , Uncle Max's chubby wife of 30 years, walked towards them. She smiled to greet Thitiwat and gave something to him : the newspaper.
"Professor , would you please leave it at the reading corner at your dormitory ? Its delivery was quite late today. Max , how many times have I already told you to remove the blanket from the clotheslines at 3 o'clock sharp ? "
Uncle Max smiled drolly ; he was a kind of husband who was not afraid of his wife but extremely cautious of not irritating her. A comical couple of husband and wife, who Thitiwat was close to , went away to their house which was not far from here. Aunt Hilde sang some aria from Mozart's opera , Die Zauberflöte - perhaps belonging to Queen of the Night ,while grabbing her husband's neck.
The young man perused the newspaper for a while. Suddenly he stumbled upon the new in small column :
On July , 11 ,1933 , the clique of military officers and civilians , led by Prince Bavoradet , handed out the ultimatum to the government to resign. This was thanks to their accusations that the government of Kanarat Sadorn attempted to resort to the communist policies of Economy.And the government was also accused of protecting some member who had committed Lese Majeste. If the ultimatum is ignored , the rebellious armies under their control would seize power from the government. The members of Kanarat Sadorn are now unanimously voting to suppress the rebellion .And the ensuing violent conflicts are currently expected ........
The young man felt the warm blood running around his face. He thought about his father , the ex- general of the king's royal army. His father worshipped and had close connections with Prince Bavoradet. After 24th June last year , he was probably forced to resign and sink into the depression. The old man had obviously harbored the resentment against Kanarat Sadon, according to the letter from his older sister. It was in all likelihood that he might have been one of the rebellion's members in the news.
Thitiwat was fretting over his father's fate and thought about calling to Narongrit at the embassy. But he deemed this inappropriate as his name had been on the blacklist .So he should have waited to meet the old friend at his house. Thitiwat was contemplating several possibilities : If he returned to Siam now , he might be under arrest. Or if he returned much later, he was still under the government's surveillance and probably struggled to find the new job as government officer .
Except he would show his sincerity to the government , but that would strain the relation with his already estranged father (if the latter wasn't dead or jailed already) . Besides, if the army of Prince Bavoradet won, Thitiwat would still be distrusted by them because he used to show his support for Kanarat Sadorn. And his father could be no help as he hated the young man's idea of democracy.
At last Thitiwat came to the conclusion that he was destined to stay here with someone he fell for even though it was the unrequited love. The radio from the nearby dormitory turned to play the adagietto movement of the 5th Symphony of Gustav Mahler. It was getting louder and enfolding majestically his place as he was staring at the dazzling waves of the lake. The sunlight was so strong that he had to squint his eyes to notice that somebody was in the opposite side of the lake. It was miraculous that he could clearly see Marian sitting on the bench there and smiling at him.
The helter-skelter in front of the main hall of Thitiwat's university that morning was so deafening that one might think she or he was going bonkers in any minute. The crowd of students, especially the young hot-blooded men , were appearing in the suits of party members , chanting the party's songs , and shouting the slogan of party incessantly. The music band never ceased to exhibit their loyalty to Herr Hitler by playing his favorite music , like the Overture of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg of Richard Wagner , the antisemitic opera composer whom had been venerated by Hitler since he was still a drifter in Vienna.
On this special day, the members of German Student Union and the Hitler Youth had become the de facto hosts of welcoming ceremony for Dr. Joseph Goebbels.Despite the fact that budgets and workers for any activity ,especially decorations, were from the university , the youngsters became the little masters who had wantonly dictated everything , including who the master of ceremony was.
The energetic and beaming president of university was standing among the members of his administration to greet Goebbels in front of the main hall building.The President , as the shrewd intellectual ,was well-known for his widely published philosophy books which in the future would catapult him to be one of the greatest philosophers of Germany or the world. However, like Herbert Von Karajan, he was already the member of the Nazi party and eager to serve the party to advance his career. Later , the president was unmasked as the married man who had a torrid affair with the Jewish female philosopher who hated the totalitarian state so much.
The procession of vehicles of Goebbels had arrived exactly on time. Nimbly stepping out of the car , Goebbels was obviously enraptured by the pompous ceremony to honor him as the second -in- command of this country , in other words, the worthy substitute for Hitler. He and the president- both unfaithful husbands- shook hands firmly and talked to each other affably. The administration and all lecturers were standing to witness the splendor of the ceremony that led to Goebbels' grandiosity - perhaps the benign 2.0 version of that night of book burning.
In the main hall , the atmosphere was even equally exuberant. All seats were occupied by the students who were too rowdy as if they had been waiting for the prophet who was heralding the great news from heaven. From his lengthy speech ,Goebbels at last proved himself the gifted and eloquent orator , a little inferior to Hitler. And it was less sensational as he could keep his composure without the outburst like his boss. Still , Goebbels was the rabble- rouser who could draw the thundering applauses and Hurrahs from the overexcited young audience . The ardent students unrestrainedly yelled out ' Heil Hitler' intermittently. Certainly , Goebbels' message was still the same : the greatness of Germany and the calamity of Jews.
Thitiwat had been looking for an hour for that dark-haired Jewish girl , but to no avail. He didn't know whether there were the name checks of participants by the student union itself. What would happen if that girl was found absent? Finally Goebbels finished his speech, most of the students in the hall applauded and frantically rose to their feet to salute in Nazi style. Goebbels waved his hand ,left the stage triumphantly and entered the room adjunct to it , followed by the flock of administration who agitated Thitiwat so much for their servilities . The young man persuaded Gunter and Elizabeth to get away with him from the madding crowd in this hall ,who were still reveling in next program of performance by the Hitler Youth. A stern -faced man, remembered as the president's secretary, briskly approached him.
"Professor Thitiwat ? Mr. President is inviting you to the meet him now. Please follow me immediately!"
Totally flummoxed ,Thitiwat glanced at his colleagues who looked bewildered and shrugged at the same time. He now found the night of book burning much less intimidating than this time. Was he about just to be sadly informed by the president that he would be interrogated by the Reichsminister before being sent to Gestapo ? If so, this was probably due to some parts of his book or the blasphemy against Hitler he had unwittingly made during the lectures. Out of the blue he was surprised that he had impulsively thought about Marian, not the Siamese embassy at all.
There the young man found the Reichsminister ensconced at the sofa . He was merrily smoking and chattering with the president and a bald old man who, he assumed, was the mayor of Berlin. Goebbels looked at him.
" Are you Professor Thitiwat Thanakornchai? " He asked and put the cigarette on the tray.
The young man nodded ; he was shaken and sweating profusely. Then he found someone standing up to give him a seat. Goebbels had surprised him tremendously by proffering him a handshake , before his seemingly secretary opened the satchel bag and gave Thitiwat a book. That was one of three books he could manage to get published apart from the books about history of Asia and the Siam's political history.
"Unbelievable that the author writing such a good biography of Beethoven is not German . Professor , I am so glad to meet its author amidst the sumptuous ceremony like this. By the way , do you have any knowledge about music ? " Goebbels picked up the same cigarette to smoke again. Everyone was looking at Thitiwat.
The young man replied , " A little , sir. I used to study music when I was in Munich ages ago. But I had carried out the research on Beethoven as a historical person.
Goebbels sneered. "That's why I think this book needs the improvement : you should add some chapters about his music."
" Thank you for your advice." Thitiwat nodded. Even though he had actually been itching of protesting Goebbels , he changed his mind.
Goebbels blew white smoke and said ," I will be straightforward with you since my ministry would be regarding the musical composers like Beethoven , Wagner , and Bruckner as the emblems of German identity and civilization. I suggest that if this book is printed again , you should use nom de plume that looked like German. I know it is quite discomforting because you are the Indian."
The president interrupted , " Sir, he is Thai , his country is Siam."
Goebbels chuckled." Ah , please accept my apology , Professor. Or there is another way : you sell your copyright of this book to us. Please trust us because we have a bunch of music historians who could rewrite this book meticulously. After all , I have a strong conviction that the person who is supposed to know Beethoven the best is Aryan like him."
Thitiwat became muted and embarrassed. But he was not so sure about what would happen if he refused the offer from this man. His book might be among the victims of burning next time. Nonetheless ,he recalled that actually Beethoven was important for Goebbels personally as an inspiration.The renowned composer could overcome his deafness, and Goebbels strived to overcome the deformation of his right leg. That was the reason why Goebbels admired his Symphony No.5 immensely as it signified knocking the door of fate to fight with it.
The president seemed to fathom Thitiwat's thought , so he turned to Goebbels. " Please understand us as a lecturer and a writer. You should give him more time."
Goebbels smiled and talked to Thitiwat ,"Of course. Call my secretary if you make up your mind. I expect that you wouldn't bear the grudge against me. It is our national ideology that the foreigner like you may not understand well. Take this to consult your wife."
Thitiwat tried to control the tone of his voice. "Sorry , I am still single , Herr Reichsminister."
"Aha , the eligible bachelor. I envy you so much. Don't hasten to get married , believe me. You will eventually have the hag who keeps grumbling in your house every day."
Goebbels quipped and looked around. Everyone , who was probably all the married men , burst into laughter heartily.
Goebbels stared at Thitiwat ." I believe, in this university there are a lot of attractive female employees who are Czech , Swedish , Italian and so on. They could be your either good lovers or tender wives. But flirting or getting married to German woman is not in your interest , right ?"
Thitiwat pretended to smile whereas he was so furious inside (however, he would laugh his head off when learning that Goebbels had the mistress who was the Czech actress many years later).
" Gute ! Because we , the Germans , have the aim of preserving our Aryan's pure blood. In the future , there will be a law for banning the interracial marriage , especially that damn Jews ; they will all perish in the coming years. Now I have to move to another place right on the schedule. Let's keep in touch , you and me , the devout followers of Beethoven." Goebbels jokingly pointed his finger to Thitiwat and himself.
Everyone laughed again. Thitiwat shook hands with Goebbels once more and walked out of that damn room , imagining blowing smoke from 3 cigarettes at the same time in the face of Goebbels.
For Goebbels and other billions of world population , the Symphony No. 5 and No. 9 of Ludwig Van Beethoven were the most captivating amongst the great music by any composer , perhaps since humans accidentally discovered how to make music. For Thitiwat , he was actually smitten with Beethoven's musical piece that was far less known than the mentioned two. It was the String Quartet No 5 ,published in 1801 ,dedicated to Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz , Beethoven's patron.
Some assumed that his quartet evoked Beethoven's ethereal pleasure of the countryside outside Vienna. The great maestro was greatly enamored of nature and conjured it up via his music like his Symphony No.6 . Once during a brief stay in Vienna , Thitiwat had travelled around the same place Beethoven used to stroll in order to put himself in Beethoven's shoes. So he should have been the first one in the world who at most caught on to this piece of music. It also secretly helped him to visit the mystic kingdom on the clouds he usually dreamt up - so bright and balmy above the gold cornfield and the lofty green mountains.
Now Berlin's most famous quartet was performing this masterpiece in the auditorium of his university. He and other friends like Gunter and Elizabeth were among the audience , gripped by its divinity. It was a real shame that this time Thitiwat's mind was being adrift again. He thought about his father who had certainly participated in the rebellion thanks to the information from Narongrit. The civil war between them and the government erupted several days ago. It was thus impossible for him to contact the old man even his older sister who was probably being caught in the nail-biting circumstance ,even though she was not in cahoots with the rebellion at all. He also missed her so dearly , the middle-aged housewife with two children who was excessively optimistic and always cheered him up via the letters.
Another of Beethoven's String Quartet was performed as well despite it couldn't rival the 5th for the magnificence. When the performances all ended , four musicians stood up and nodded to the audience who were rewarding them with the heartfelt applause. The commotion at last descended on the hall while the audience were about to departure.
Elizabeth pointed her finger to another corner of the hall.
" Look ! The heavenly couple ! "
Those are Marian and her fiancé in his military uniform. They had also attended the same concert but in the rows preserved for military personnel. Marian was absolutely gorgeous as usual , but she looked absent- minded and aloof. Her fiancé actually immersed himself in chattering with the guy in military uniform like him. The people ,who weren't even their acquaintance , were gazing at them with admirations. But Thitiwat thought it was funny that they risibly looked dwarfish , comparing to the couple's statuesque appearances .
All of a sudden, in spite of the distance , she looked at three friends and smiled. Gunter smiled back awkwardly. Elizabeth shook his shoulder.
" Gutner , Fraulein Borrmann knows you well as her sly suitor. I suppose she was a kind of forgiving woman, so she wouldn't absolutely lash out at you. Take us to greet her right now !"
Gunter laughed . " Actually you want to know her fiancé , right ? I know from your 'too demureness', haha."
The young woman slapped his back and laughed.
" Go now ! They might move on in a minute ,and we will miss the chance of chumming up with celebrity."
Thitiwat disagreed , " Both of you , please go ahead. I will wait around here."
Gunter seized his arm. " I won't let you get away, the introverted, go with us. Two is company, Three is an army (not a crowd)."
Thitiwat knew that Gunter was too embarrassed to confront her alone , so many people might help distract her. Yet couldn't he refuse to join them to greet Marian. She also greeted them back with much cordiality. Somehow she appeared not to show any sign that she was much acquainted with Thitiwat. The young man blushed , played this unexpected role and looked at another direction. Gunter was the only one who was talking much with his princess , while her fiancé still enjoyed talking with his friend.
The member of elite team of Reichswehr (German armed forces) then greeted three friends with lukewarm smile due to Marian's introduction. Suddenly , he looked at the a man with military suit standing quite far from him and talked to his friend who was almost as tall as him.
"Look at that bastard ! How he assumes that he is the prestigious general of Reichswehr !"
Everyone looked at the same direction. The mentioned man was bespectacled and wearing the thin moustache. Everyone knew that he was Heinrich Himmler , another henchman of Hitler , the Reichsführer-SS or the head of SS - another paramilitary of the Nazi party. Himmler, who was untrustworthy for being Beethoven's fan, was talking cheerfully with the member of his team ,and the man in civilian suit who was probably the manager of the Quartet. Thitiwat knew that Himmler was one of the most ambitious members in Hitler's circle. He was a kind of person who could be incredibly ruthless for power like Ernst Roehm , his mentor.
The friend of Marian's fiancé chuckled and cracked,
" Hilarious that this man , like Goebbels, had never fought in the Great War . I am not sure whether he knows how to shoot his pistol properly - just another Hitler's goody-goody."
Both of them laughed unrestrainedly , but the situation became increasingly awkward, since Marian didn't talk to anyone in the group of three friends. While the overbearing handsome military officer was still treating everyone around as the invisible ,even though Elizabeth and Gunter tried in vain to have their attentions. So, all of them had to bid them good bye.
Thitiwat was melancholic and peeked at Marian. She was still reserved. He presumed both she and her fiancé always treated each other like that .Sometimes it looked like the young couple was just the strangers happening to stand beside each other - the loveless statuesque couple. So, the outsider, who was the underdog, like him thought she was even much unreachable for him like her mirage he had encountered near the university's lake in that late afternoon.
The group of three friends ambled on quite the dark path out of the auditorium. They could see the flickering light from some shops and pubs outside the fence of university. Gunter finally broke the silence.
"I am willing to buy you guys a barrel of beer to celebrate the night of my heartbreak tonight. My plan is to help you paint the town red until you are unconscious."
Elizabeth frowned . " Isn't it ludicrous to celebrate the occasion of heartbreak ? Are you out of your mind ? . I suppose you just want to pointlessly satirize yourself."
"To be frank , just to flirt with her is like a bliss from heaven although it is just the one -sided love. I treasure every minute of talking with her or being stared by her beautiful blue eyes. I now extremely envy her fiancé as now he is like in the God 's garden to be close to such a worthy lady."
Thitiwat flushed ; he thought Gunter was deriding him because those words were exactly what he was thinking right now. Gunter briskly grabbed Thitiwat's neck to prevent him from going away and said with a loud laugh ,
" And this night , my friend , Thitiwat will be properly introduced to some fair ladies whom I know. Elizabeth , let's bet that after this night , he would be the first one who ties the knot among us , shall we ? "
Elizabeth roared with laughter. Thitiwat thought he would pretend to just sip a bottle of beer before sneaking from the pub , but ultimately, he was mistaken.
Thitiwat felt his legs shaking and himself stumbling around as the intoxication from 5 or 6 bottles of beer had overwhelmed him. This was the reason why he didn't want to get drunk because ,apart from behaving so shamelessly like this , he would always say anything straight from his mind. Finally he managed to stagger out of the pub while Gunter and Elizabeth were having their hands full talking and drinking with other friends.
The young man knocked the door of some place twice. The person who opened the door seemed totally unfazed. Her blue eyes didn't open wide but still was radiant with the mystery that he hadn't never solved perhaps for all eternity. Thitiwat anticipated the sentences from Marian's luscious mouth like :
"Professor , you are reeking of alcohol , please leave !"
But she just made way for him to wobble into her tea shop and said in a calm voice ,
"Take a seat. I will bring some tea for you."
The young man nodded and said in a slurred voice ,
"I am sorry to disturb you in such unbearably late hour. I guessed it was 10.15 or 10.57 pm right now."
The young woman said nothing and went into the rear area of tea shop. Thitiwat threw himself on the chair and saw several books on the table. He took liberties with their owner by opening them. Those are the bookkeeping and the book that had been written in style of novel.
Marian put down the tea cup in front of him and smiled.
"I came back to do the bookkeeping of my shop. When I feel bored, I just switch to write the novel. Please accept my gratitude that your books were my valuable materials."
"Don't know that you can write novel , marvelous ! You can do two things that were fundamentally different at the same time. I am eager to read your finished novel right now !"
Thitiwat yelled out and then he hated himself for doing that from inebriation. He supposed this might make it the last time he could visit here with her presence. Thitiwat bent down his head on the table and tried to vain to drink tea. She then gently raised the cup up to his mouth.
"I am so drunk now. You must have been disturbed by my rudeness like this."
He sipped the tea and looked at her. She beamed and said nothing. His mischievous mind had the impression that it was a good sign and started to mastermind him to say something he had all the time suppressed.
"That afternoon , by the lake , I saw you sitting there. Was it the mirage or simply my hallucination about you ? Or were you really sitting there ? I did feel your actual presence."
Marian grinned." It depended on you .It might stem from your thought , your mind , or your heart. Perhaps I am just the figment of your imagination , Professor."
" I have dreamt about you pretty face every night. Could that be the answer for this puzzle ? " he muttered.
" If so , why did you leave my rehearsal before it ended ? When I finished it.I was looking all over the place for you."
Thitiwat thought there was jittery inside her words but he smirked.
"I don't know that I am so important for you. Comparing to the guy who would be the greatest conductor in the world , I am nothing but the wretch."
Marian snickered." Herbert ? He has already fiancée and probably would get married in a few months. Why do you think he is your rival when both of you are only my friends?"
Although he was still drunk , he felt something was pricking his heart and his stomach was fluttering. Marian could notice this.
"Professor , are you all right? Drinking too much now is taking a toll on your body."
He managed to stand up but pitifully staggered. The young woman rushed to support him. It was the first time she touched his body. All of a sudden he found some something running around his body - the touch of divinity.
" May I ask beg you for allowing me to rest here for a while ? I intended to say that I am too dizzy to get out of here , but it is just a barefaced lie. Actually I just want to be near you as long as possible," He murmured.
"Of course , there is a sofa over there at that dark corner. Take a nap for a while. If I'm done with my bookkeeping , I will wake you up,"She said
Thitiwat lied down on sofa and laid his head on the cushion. He didn't know how long he had been in slumber, but he found the cushion gradually tucked away and something softer took its place. It was a woman's lap, and a hand started to caress his cheek. The young man could feel the hand owner's warm breath above his forehead.
"You have quite a high temperature , I am afraid you would be feverish." Her soft voice lingered like it was far away from another dimension.
"This was because of my burning desire for you, "
Thitiwat said without shame. When he heard her giggling , he immediately grabbed her hand to kiss. She didn't pull it back. He wondered how he could survive from this moment.
"How can I do when I already have someone else ? " murmured Marian.
" Now I know that's why you were distant to me at the concert. It is such a depravity , isn't it. I was humble as an ugly creature who didn't dare even to stand near both of you to blemish your splendour. I hereby pledge with solemnity that I would not try to seduce you. Just be with me in this moment ; I want a company tonight,"
he said and had buried his nose and mouth in her hand for a long time. He could feel her delicate skin with its extraordinary fragrance.
"Your idea is so waggish ! I actually find you so attractive , and I was drawn to you in spite of how hard I have tried to resist.During the concert , I kept thinking about you and knew you were certainly attending it as you were the expert on Beethoven.But by the time I saw you , I thought there were too many people around us,"
Marian said mildly.
Both of them drank in the silence around themselves for minutes. Marian was the first one who uttered,
"By the way , I know you are beset by the worry about your father though you are being estranged from him, right ?" asked Marian. "Now I am going to make it up to you when you wanted my music to remedy your long lost memory , but I wasn't there for you."
Thitiwat was not startled any more because he rested assured that she could wade through every nook and cranny of his mind. He just observed the twinkling stars from her eyes and smiled with gratitude.
"Close your eyes," she ordered and began to caress his forehead as if it had been the process of hypnosis.
"Do you want to know what your mother was trying to say to you when you were with her those days ? "
Thitiwat replied by stealing his kiss on her arm. A few minutes later he could see the image of his mother whispering something in his ears , but now he could hear her voice so clearly.
" I love you, son. Please take care of yourself. If you grow up until you understand the world , let yourself know how much I and your father love you. Even though he was so tough with you , his love for you is so enormous. But you only have turned a blind eye to."
Thitiwat felt his eyes brimming with tears. Now her voice became Marian's.
" Don't worry at all whether your father would be safe. Even if the civil war escalates and his side is defeated , he has already chosen the sanctuary. Most important of all , he thinks of you and your older sister so much."
Marian's fingers touched a skin below his eyes.
" Are you going to cry ? Don't do it now, otherwise I will follow suit."
He suddenly caught the glimpse of the beauty of her face which bore resemblance to a painting of the great master in the Renaissance period.
" You were literally an angel ! " he exclaimed.
The sunlight in the late afternoon collaborated with the breeze to stir the lake's shimmering surface as it had been for billion years. Thitiwat was sitting on the same bench to watch the same bevy of swans playing the water nearby and , from his observation.Some of its members were missing ,but they still have the same rollicking postures.
Now he was not alone as Narongrit became his company on the same bench.
"Unbelievable that the bloody failed coup of Prince Boworadet has already ended many months ago. I am still struggling to find the hideout of your father even though I have some men in the intelligence unit ,"
Narongrit complaint , but he seemed to relish the sublimity of this place as much as his friend.
Thitiwat sighed. " Thank you ,that is your admirable generosity, Narongrit. I could sense his well-being : he is still safe but plagued by the destitution and some illness -somewhere in Indochina. "
Narongrit frowned." Since when do you become the the omniscient ? Or do you just assume from the sanctuary of Prince Boworadet ?"
"No , just from some hunch. I haven't met him for more than two decades now , I have grown up to hate him , so our minds can not connect to each other. But I have a medium that has helped me through thick and thin. Now I become much less restless. " Thitiwat stretched his hand to catch the falling maple's leaf.
"Aha , who is that medium? and why did you hate your own father ? " Narongrit asked with curiosity.
" I remember telling you every now and then , right ? In a nutshell : he was too harsh father and also an unashamed polygamist. But at last I realize he is still the loving father to me anyway." Thitiwat stared at his friend.
"Aha , I just noticed your personality has apparently been improved lately. You used to be at least a grumbling pessimist." Narongrit sniggered.
"Perhaps , I have met someone who is so exalted and that person is the medium," Thitiwat said with a pride.
" I guess that person is a woman then. Thitiwat , you should get married to someone now, as you are the last person in the Siamese Student Association of Russia who still perturbingly clings to bachelorhood. " Narongrit threw the pebble into the lake.
"I am afraid that she is too exalted for me. But there isn't a single hour passing by that I haven't thought of her," Thitiwat said in an adamant voice.
"Just thinking can't help anything. Try to search for other methods of winning her over. Is she German ? " Narongrit was doubtful.
Thitiwat smiled instead of reply.
Narongrit said with anxiety , "Don't play with fire , my friend. Although there isn't the law against miscegenation [interbreeding of people in different races] yet , if you are dating the German woman and meeting the police or Sturmabteilung en route , you might be in serious trouble."
"That is not going to happen , don't panic." Thitiwat smiled.
He thought about the mystic Marian. For some reason , she hadn't attended his class anymore .However he couldn't help himself sneaking to meet her at tea shop -as their secret tryst- almost everyday after work.
"Do you always go to meet Goebbels ?"
Narongrit nudged Thitiwat quite forcefully when seeing him carried way by his own thought.
"Eh ? Yes, you are interrogating me now , the double agent ? He has invited me for some talks at the ministry several times," Thitiwat said. "Goebbels seemed to enthuse over anything oriental , so besides the talk about Beethoven, He always asks me about the Asian history and culture. It seems that he is probably searching for other gimmicks for propaganda with the Asian style."
" Haha.That would put you in more danger as there are the spies everywhere , Thitiwat. Hitler 's circle is fraught with danger and backstabbing. Goebbels is at loggerheads with Goering. I am pretty sure that you are being secretly tailed by someone from Goering's office ," said Narongrit quietly. He avoided the word ' Gestapo' , looked around, and became more relieved as there was nobody around their vicinity.
Thitiwat flushed , thinking that he was dragging Marian along the perilous path even though she is the daughter of the famous general. Should he just learn his place and back off ?
"Doesn't Bangkok know about my visit to Goebbels ?" Thitiwat finally decided to ask.
"Certainly , the highest echelons of Kanarat Sadorn has discussed about you. Some member who wields more power after the civil war seems to be interested in you considerably." Narongrit grinned.
"I presume that is Luang Phibulsonggarm , correct ? " Thitiwat asked.
"You have done your homework well !" Narongrit looked amazed at his friend and droned,
" Thitiwat , our current prime minister , Phraya Phahol is the decent and scrupulous man. But I think he deserves to be just the professional soldier ,and the person who soon would overtake his political clout is apparently Luang Phibul. There is a fun but also unknown fact that Luang Phibul , though graduating from France , used to exhibit very keen interest in the militarism and the Nazism in Germany. From my sources , he has the penchant for a single-handed rule."
"Yes , I begin to know which direction our country will step on within 3-4 years from now on , when the government is not stable and becomes paranoid." Thitiwat looked contemplative.
"That is your mixed- blessing. If he becomes the prime minister, you might be urged to go back to Siam and be assigned the works like Goebbels. That means the great leap of your career - only if you show your absolute loyalty to the regime ," Narongrit said.
Uncle Max appeared out of the blue and interrupted ,
"Hey , if you go back to Siam , please take me with you. I would really love to travel and color my life with endless adventures in this exotic country."
Both men were startled. Thitiwat laughed and waved his hand to Uncle Max.
" Narongrit ,this is Uncle Max. He is Germany's greatest gardener who used to fight in the Great War and be posted at the same regiment as Herr Hitler. Uncle Max , this is Narongrit , my friend from the Siamese embassy."
Narongrit nodded smilingly. " Good. Uncle , please tell me how Hitler behaved during the war. Did he fight with an utter bravery or take on a company of foes all by himself ?"
Uncle Max chortled. "That would cost you 2 or 3 bottles of beer or more if you need the details. I remember there is a nice and cozy pub not far from here.
Everyone burst into laughter.