It is a trick of the light. Or perhaps it is the geometry of it that makes you believe that you see deeper into the bowls of that corridor than is the case. Deeper still into memory – a memory that belongs to others, not you. And yet its remnant cannot fail to detach itself from the shadows, creep along the length of the hairs that have taken an upstanding position on the back of your neck and now serve as rope ladders for the misery of those entombed in this fiery furnace. In their hundreds. Thousands. The stench of torture seeps into your pores doubled up with the heat and humidity of the day. You cannot hear their screams, but somewhere beneath your diaphragm the echoes vibrate still. Before long you are at one with the past – a part of it – and there is nowhere to escape to.
About this image: This is a shot of one of the preserved hallways of Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, Vietnam (October, 2014). Built by the French it in late 19th century and originally referred to by the authorities as Maison Centrale, the prison’s better known nickname is The Hanoi Hilton, as coined by American POWs during the Vietnam War. Only a small part of the complex has been preserved for posterity and is now a museum. Incidentally, on the former grounds an actual Hilton Hotel has since been erected.