Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Book

I mentioned my mother's blogging activity in a previous post (May 27 2007). She writes her stories in the Flemish language. Here follows an English translation of one of them.

It is Saturday and the weather is beautiful. Mama is taking Monique with her to buy groceries. Monique in the pousette (stroller), pushed by mama, who is proud as a peacock. Monique is an extraordinary beautiful child, causing comments from many passing by. Someone mentioned she should be entered in a beauty contest for children. Knowing mama, that won’t happen... but she is proud nevertheless.
They just left the house, when I noticed a book on the table while going through the middle room. Mama forgot to take it with her. The book is not ours, someone had lent it to mama. She had told me not to open it, that it was for grown-ups only.
I pause and look at the cover. It shows a photograph of a concentration camp. An iron fence with big rolls of barbed wire. Hands like claws that try to grasp the world outside. I forget the prohibition. Page after page sucks up my emotions, by the pictures that witness unhuman acts, by people, struck on people. Bodies in bags, striped bags..... with numbers....hopeless creatures, dark sunken eyes. Skeletons with skin still on them. Thin legs that can no longer support the hollow emaciated bodies.
I see photos of people digging graves. I see huge graves filled with meatless bodies, crisscross and haphazardly dumped. Mass grave after mass grave, hundreds of worthless creatures, robbed of all honor by men in black uniforms; deprived of everything that was worthy of the definition human.
Shaved heads with deep listless eyes, the begging hands raised in a prayer for food. A meager peel of a potato, a turnip or a carrot can possibly grant them a day longer in their hopeless existence. Long rows of women and children lined up to enter what looks like a row of barns...the gas chambers. Thick black smoke billows out of the chimney above.
Pictures of torture rooms. I can see the torture devices in the pictures. Mechanical apparatus to stretch human bodies, to hang upside down for days, ....
Photographs of prisoners being freed... gathering in little groups. They survived hell and can not believe it. They have forgotten how it feels to be happy. They can not smile... not yet.
I close the book and go sit down away from it. It is not necessary to open the book once more. The images that I saw are burned in my mind forever. I will never forget them.
I can not find sleep that night....I think about the people in the pictures....mama was right, it was a book for grown-ups.

Copyright Jacqueline De Dier 2007

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