Aongus Murtagh

Aongus Murtagh

A writer in Berlin

In the first week of June, I get an email approving my sojourn in a lake-side facility in Brandenburg. I am reluctant to travel. Brandenburg is a place of dark forests and wolves, a zone of silent murder, of unspoken contempt for the loud and unnatural city planted right in its midst like an aberration.   ‘Your children should not be taught to fear travel,’ Celestina says coolly.  I am sitting on the edge of the bed with my head in my hands.  ‘All right,’ I mutter.  I chuck some clothes into a knapsack. Then, with the kids and Celestina tagging along, I take the U-bahn to the central bus station in Charlottenburg: a district with a genteel name, but with streets that seem fashioned from steel.   As we walk towards the bus station, the proximity of the autobahn dizzies me. The boys peer over the rail like into a gorge of hurtling tonnage. The first day I arrived in this city, I tell them, pointing over my shoulder at Kaiserdamm, I crossed that bridge and had no idea where I was.   At this moment of departure, I am, at long last, hit by a sense of ownership of the city, a sense that is as faint as a foetus’ pulse in an ultrasound.    I climb aboard the bus and wave goodbye to my family. The children wave back. Celestina wipes a piece of dust from her eye and smiles bravely.  So long Berlin: Other folk who arrived in the nineties made money, built apartment blocks, accessed the atriums of culture and politics. I made two children (it was my only route back to innocence), and failed at everything else, but today with my heart breaking, I realise that this is actually enough. 

Extract from Summer of the New Machines, a novel in progress.