Angelina Der Arakelian is an author who believes in the magical power of words. More specifically, she sees potential in the written medium to make readers imagine a world that is very far from, yet comprises similar traits to the one we live in. By doing this, she hopes to challenge the reality we’re presented with and allow us to dig the purpose behind some of history’s most prevalent events a bit deeper.
In early 20th century France, Patrick is a man who seems to live an ordinary life with his soon-to-be wife, Josephine. As they frequent a coffee shop one day, Patrick is compelled to pass out after listening to a brief radio broadcast, and wakes up in a different time and space. It is now the 19th century, and he’s in the Ottoman Empire. At first, he thinks he’s dreaming, but soon realizes he has a mysterious ability to time travel each time one of his 5 senses is triggered. Eventually, he begins to question his sanity, and whether he has any control over his perception of reality:
‘Gazing up at the dim lit sky coated with vintage shades, my senses came together to form a ball of haze that sat heavily on the edge of my brain. I was shaking; perhaps a more accurate description would be, electrifying. Electrifying with charged atoms drawing an image before me which I did not necessarily choose to control. For the first time in my life, I began to wholly accept that I was not the writer of my life’s plot.’ – Patrick, from A Week in Berlin.
On a quest to uncover the origin of this superpower, he meets Joseph, an older and wiser man who promises to explain everything if he chooses to cooperate with him. Throughout their encounters, Patrick is reminded of his past, especially the loss of his then-wife, Ruby, and his unborn daughter. He is made to see that he is able to revisit the past and change the course of history, including saving his family, if he does so carefully and by following strict instructions. Otherwise, as he is told, he risks placing humanity in danger.
The story is a reflection of the worlds we’re introduced to in works such as The Matrix or Inception, where the main character’s understanding of the world around him is completely shattered. To better understand the world he faces, he must come to terms with who he truly is, bringing about change by exploring the world within him rather than outside – a core element of spiritual practice and growth.
As is the case with most creatives, Angelina Der Arakelian is inspired by real-life circumstances and experiences, not just her own but of those who are close to her. Mixing elements of historical fiction, science fiction and mysticism, the story of ‘A Week in Berlin’ is loosely based on her great-grandfather’s survival of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.
The character of Patrick embodies the traits of a man who has lost everything during one of the most barbaric events known to humanity, and finds his perspective is shared with other characters who have lost a part of themselves during other historical events over time. Throughout the novel, we are met with the possibility of reality – including the major events that take place within it – being a result of negative energy forces trying to keep positive energy forces at bay. The primary way this happens is through waging wars, genocides, acts of racism, and other incidents that are meant to divide humanity. Ultimately, the story encompasses the presence of a hidden spiritual war that occurs behind the scenes of conflicts we’re used to seeing on the surface.