I’ve always wondered about the role of Judas. There are these ancient and classical tradition of the man who betrayed Christ, who sold him for thirty pieces of silver, and, drunk with regret, hanged himself or for others opened his belly. In any case, he committed suicide. What remains of this man? Do the other apostles have buried him according to the Jewish custom, as he should have been?
I mean, physically where is the rest of him? Is his tomb the subject of any cult? Was a church established on this sepulcher? If he is not holy himself, at least he has seen, touched and kissed the Christ: does not this suffice to grant him a share of respectability? Although he betrayed Christ.
Some say he survived his suicide attempt, and he has developed dropsy, his body became so heavy, so large, so thick he could not avoid a cart in a narrow alley of Jerusalem, and he died disemboweled, his intestines flowing out of him on the ground, offered to stray animals. As if he had been swollen by the famous thirty pieces of silver, a cursed bonanza, so immoral that the body inflated.
Others say that you have accepted that money because your family was in need. Is it true ? Still others say that you have written your memoirs, your “gospel” and that nothing that happened was your fault: it is Christ who brought you, craving to to be delivered to the Romans, his body envelope weighed too much. He had discarded. Then Christ asked to you, Judas, you, his favorite, to do the dirty work. But he did not know you would hurt yourself as soon your old master expired. Do you know that his body was still warm up there on the cross, when you resolved to die?
How could you attach yourself to the Zealots, and murder Lazarus, the resurrected, to erase any evidence of the divinity of Christ? I looked, you know, fragments of you: there is nothing left of your thirty pieces of silver (faded, money has become a crown, cutlery and poor quality jewelry). But your bones? Your skull, at least. Do we not file it into a chapel dedicated to atone your heinous and terrible crime? The vertebrae of your broken neck, where are they? The rope chord of your suicide (failed or successful), what has it become?
And what about this heretical thesis that God became man for infamy, Judas being actually the son of God, not the Christ? These relics of yours would be of even more value.
Since the night of destiny, I have roamed street after street, city after city, soul after soul, for some rest, some water, some shade but my dying soul could only bear heat, only thirst, only longing for what cannot be anymore. My only peace lay in yearning. As I witnessed the crucifixion from below, I had decided upon ending this cruel existence, but in the middle of death, as I oscillated between this world and the other, I heard sounds I’d never heard before, I witnessed visions that could never have been predicted, colors that were not yet invented and it was then I thought, too late, that I must live more, see more, feel things that have never been felt on this earth before, understand my own soul – since no one else will. A moment later, just when I thought it was all over, I felt myself in my body again, unable to move, unable to open my eyes. I lay there for a long time : hours, days, years, I can’t tell, but when I finally got up, I was already the Judas that everyone knows now, my kiss had turned into a sign of betrayal, I had become treachery – years later, in Arabia, I was to hear the story of Majnun, a lover so madly in love with Layla that he turned into madness, his name an equivalent of madness – and so I got up and without thinking, I started walking. What else could have I done?
I walked kilometers, thousands perhaps, I don’t quite remember anymore, it was so long ago, through unknown borders and foreign tongues – through dark alleys, and darker continents, I saw things and beings, believe me, with my own eyes that I had discarded as mere imagination before, mere fallacy and it all turned out to be true but no, no we must not speak about it now, not yet– to reach a place, an abode unhaunted, untainted by the memory of my great betrayal to Christ – to Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God – the savior of every soul except mine, and so I walked, to flee my own death, to escape the many shades of my own heart, and at the end of what I can only call a state of vertigo, I suddenly stopped in the middle of a shimmering desert. It seemed to me that I had reached the end of the earth, for where else could sand be so golden, mirages so foreign, it was there that I spent the rest of my life, it was there that I saw the color black reflect light, it was there that I went beyond myself.
You want to know about my death, my burial, the site of my bones, fragments of my heart, of my body that has been dead for thousands of years. I will tell you, but how much time do you have? How much patience and strength? To reach my death, you must go through my life.
What happened to the kiss of Judas to Christ? Are kisses mortal, like men? Do they spread? Do they fragment, like dust in the sky, into nothing, or become part of a whole?
From me, Judas, relics have been made, but hidden, concealed. You have to know, find, understand, recognize them. Because they are not shown distinctly. They are offered to only the one who can see the invisible. The one who understands that no one is black or white, but oscillating from shadow to light. Idols were made from my hair, placed at the top of the altar. Some of my nails were inserted into the most venerable crucifix. The dust of my bones was mixed with sand of the Holy Sepulchre’s stained glass, and the divine light passes through me when it illuminates the tomb of the one I betrayed. Betrayed? Not exactly. Whose death I helped organize. I’m not a bad man, you know, I am not evil incarnate, I’m not a puppet of the devil, on the contrary. I am the friend of the elected. I’m his favorite. When I embraced Christ, he returned my kiss. His kiss was not a kiss of peace, it was a kiss of love, as shared by lovers. God, I still feel on my lips the perfume from his mouth. Christ, Christ, I loved you! How could I kill you?
No, no, love doesn’t belong to this planet. I have never belonged to this world, this world of binaries, where between loyalty and betrayal exists nothing else. You have to hover a little above the ground if you want to see something else, your eyes have to penetrate its own color to see the entire spectrum. I understood it much later, you know. It was under the shade of arid greenery that I remembered and remembered again the kiss I gave to Christ – my lord, my lover, my lord – and I couldn’t remember the moment of betrayal, the precise minute, the exact second. Like a madman, I would touch my lips, with these very hands, repeatedly, hoping to see a stain, a remain, something, of the famous treachery. But alas! In the blazing sun of the desert, all I could ever see was the purity of my own heart, the honesty of my own kiss.
Oh I wept, how I wept under the Khejri tree that still flowers from the nutrients of my dead body, that still stands so strong on the dust of my bones.
I do not know if I will ever be able to love someone else with equal force. I do not know how I will one day be able to put one foot before the other, open my mouth to pronounce other words, even breathe normally.
I heard the clamor of the people at his last breath, you know? For me, there were only dogs licking my feet when I was hanging in a garden, alone with my cursed coins. Until the rope broke, and even death was refused to me.
What future? What to do? Who will understand?
I had in my heart a passion more consuming than cancer, I have lived and existed only through him. He is the one to blame for his fall, his loss, his scheduled end. I dreamed of him every night, when he was sleeping with Mary Magdalene. I always walked close to him to feel his heat and smell the scent of his skin. I drank his words, I was finishing his sentences, I guessed his words. I was his double, his echo, his reflection. It was he who should have committed suicide. And I should’ve become the son of God. Me, Judas.
The heart is a bitter organ. Love is a fork with which one tastes it. Every night, as I thought of Jesus and Mary together, in one bed, their bare skin touching each other’s, I felt a poison spread through my veins. When the rope finally broke, when my blood dripped little by little into the mouths of those stray dogs, it came out not red, but part blue part black. They saw the colour of my blood and declared my evilness, my venomous intentions, oh. I wanted to scream, tell them the name of the one – the holy one – who had turned me so. But who on this banal planet had the heart to listen to my story, the soul to hear about the betrayals committed against the betrayer? So, I whispered my story to the long summer winds, who carried it to the most unknown corners of the world. It was under the light of the same sun we’re sitting under that I had seen Jesus pluck roses, so red, so red – unlike my blood – to arrange them beautifully, like a bouquet, on her dark hair, so as to bathe in its fragrance later under the stars. Who would have believed me? Who would have trusted what I had seen with my own eyes? The only proof of this treachery would be found, centuries later, in the laboratory of a doctor who would find traces of rose pollen in Magdalene’s hair, by then a saint, venerated for years and years, her skull preserved in a basilica.
And my skull? What happened to my skull? What happened to my love? Under whose feet was it trampled? You know, the rope didn’t break, death wasn’t refused to me. I am now so old, so ancient that I forget that I, too, came from death. But there was no one to declare my resurrection. My second life was witnessed by none.
My father, a renowned Kabbalist who spoke directly to the deity, was taught as a child that the world was created with letters. And since each letter was full of meaning, anything, everything he did in the memory of this divine moment. He told me that the letters had all power, prediction, healing, transmission, escape.
There is a string, stored in a German monastery, presented as the rope with which I hanged myself. A relic. Or rather, an anti-relic, since I am considered an anti-saint, the fallen apostle. This cord is not true; I mean, it is not authentic. It is with parchment covered with writing that I hanged myself. These are letters and words I tightened around my neck. It could not be otherwise, the sephirots are the heart of my life, had to finish them. This text, my gospel, I paid ink, quill and skin with my thirty coins. But the parchment has not kept: my body was heavier than my soul. I was condemned to live.
But what, after all, did I write on the parchment that covered the rope, which condemned me not only to life, but also to a second death? Which words did I deem fit for the end, which sign for the final exit of my soul? Do I remember anymore, the words now lost to the eternal universe, perhaps do they lie in a forgotten corner of the cosmos, among the stars whose memories flicker even after thousands of years of death, in the middle of asteroids and comets? No, no I don’t remember what my own hands had traced on the paper that night. I had almost gone mad trying to remember the moments of my life before that short death. But as it happens sometimes, one afternoon, in a buried city, I found an ancient seal with some glyphs on it and as soon as I saw that inscription, I remembered. That was it. That’s what I had written. I could recognize the symbols but had forgotten their meaning. To live with an undeciphered script forever. To live with the memory of a forgotten word. Was this to be my fate? Was my second life going to be as condemned as the first?
I think I’m doomed to misfortune, and bring misery around me, against my will. As a being of infinite blackness, though, was a being of light, in the beginning. How am I to go from light to shadow, god? Was I cursed? Some say. I think I emptied my love. I gave everything. Nothing remains for me. Or just a bitter orange taste on the edge of the lips.
M & Mrs Hyde are the two tantric and trashy sides of a forgotten soul, with frequent Jungian mood, tiny red spot obsession, Bombay Sapphire passion, frequent insomnia, recurrent headaches, taste for Darjeeling, and fascination for words. Always travelling from East to West, and inversely.