We are inside the airplane; I can’t wait to arrive to Germany. It’s been eight hours of sitting and watching too many movies of pop Indian stars dancing seductively. I’m sitting next to an Indian man. At dinnertime, the waitress forgets his water and he turns to Mario to call her. Mario doesn’t know what he is saying. The man believes that Mario can speak to him but is refusing to help him. I keep watching. This is not the first time this has happened. Mario (whose parents are Mexican-American) has dark, unique features that make him look Indian. Although my parents are Mexican, my skin is lighter influenced by Spanish blood. The waitress finally returns and gives the Indian man his water. I keep silent. Identity, when you begin to travel outside of the United States is more complicated. The way you look, more than language are key in identifying who you are.
I begin to think of the Jewish myth of the Golem. How does one forge an identity like the Jewish Golem? When it is controlled by the Rabbis wishes? According to myth, the most famous golem is the golem of Rabbi Yehuda Leow, the famous Maharal of Prague, who created a golem and after using him to prevent a blood feud, hid him in the attic of the synagogue of Prague. Does the absence of something, in this case, the absence of language and rationality in the Golem make him non-human? Is his identity then dependent solely on his social purpose? There are similarities, no doubt between this Golem figure and other cultures. The most common is the Frankenstein figure in American literature and the Zombie character, which typically has no intellect and is driven by his desire to feed on humans. But also, it is like the Santeria spirit who is called upon to bring evil or good in the world.
Golem, more than a myth is an idea that according to Ron Jacobs, is a strategy of self-protection at all costs, regardless of the consequences for others, and often for oneself or one’s own nation. How many Golems do I know in my life? How many people do not think about the consequences of their actions? How many young people in my neighborhood chose to drop out of school, use drugs and commit senseless murders? Too many to count.
Our flight takes eleven hours to get to Germany. We have a layover of four hours before we take the next plane to Prague. We wait and sleep for an hour in the Frankfurt terminal. I dream my mother. She speaks in broken English, You she says softly, Oldest of my daughters, see the world like I never will. I wake up with this thought. A Chinese man is speaking German to a woman across from me. The high ceilings of the airport reflect a brisk sunlight, a huge screen shows the flight numbers of planes coming and going. How did I get here? Someone twenty-five years ago saw in me something I didn’t see then. Someone saw in me, the potential and the ability to see things I didn’t. My mother was one of those few people. At the age of fifteen she bought me a typewriter. I knew she had saved for a long time extra money working to buy me that. I couldn’t believe it. It was a gray and white, high-speed-automatic typewriter! I feel so honored to have that opportunity to see what she hasn’t and to see for others, even if it means to only once. Mario and I arrive to Prague and late to our apartment. It is 12:30pm when we go to sleep, tired but content we arrived.