Monday, 21 August 2017

Such an Easy Metaphor

Balkan Travellers   
In the centre of Skopje, there is a clock which shows the correct time only twice in the course of 24 hours: shortly before dawn and at dusk. This mode of operation has been in place since 5:17am on July 26, 1963, when the Macedonian capital was half-destroyed by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter Scale.
The clock of the old Skopje train station has since then remained frozen on the precise instant of the disaster, becoming a melancholic monument to the tragedy which resulted in the death of more than 1,000 people and the injury of 3,000. Besides human lives, the earthquake cost Macedonia 15 per cent of its gross domestic product.

Since the 1960s almost two generations have come to pass and many of Skopje’s citizens no longer recall the tragedy which shook all of Europe and provoked Jean-Paul Sartre to write that “Skopje is not a film, not a thriller where we guess the chief event. It is a concentration of man’s struggle for freedom, with a result which inspires further struggles and no acceptance of defeat.”

Despite that, the capital’s citizens still continue to view the clock as an important symbol of the city, maybe even to an extent as an epitome of all of Macedonia’s unhappy history. As the Anglo-Indian writer Keki N. Daruwalla notes in his spot-on commentary, it is “such an easy metaphor”: “And a clock that stopped at 0517 / people find something quite profound / in frozen clock hands, such an easy metaphor / for time and the seasons, things that circle and go round.”



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Through Another Europe (2009) | Edited by Andrew Hammond

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Toshe Proeski’s Posthumous Album Released in Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia

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