THE JEWISH GIRL AND THE PHOTOGRAPH.A Story by Terry Collett
A JEWISH GIRL AND HER SEARCH FOR HER MOTHER AFTER THE HOLOCAUST.
You take the monochrome photograph from the desk, look at it, and wonder if your mother is amongst the women shown there behind the barbed wire. There are seven women shown, all in black and white, with that haunted look about them. The man who has left the photograph on the desk, asks you look at it; see if your mother is there, if she is, then he will try to see what became of the women shown. He is a humourless man, thin faced, thin lipped, with dark, cold eyes that seem to go through you, as they did in the camp where you were all those years.
You take the photograph to the window for better light and to ease the cramp in your leg, which began while the man was speaking to you, but you didn’t want to rise then and rub it, in case he thought things about you, and that would have made you blush. You rub your leg as you walk to the window; feel the muscles ease as you walk. The light from outside the window gives the photograph a different reality, you feel your emotions clamp your throat, your stomach tightens, you feel nauseous. You know these women, these types of women. They are victims; you saw so much of it at the camp that you feel you see them even in your nightmares. The woman on the right maybe, you muse, rubbing your thumb over her face as if you wanted to feel her again. But you are unsure; the picture is not clear enough.
You bring the photograph up to your eyes, peer hard, try to make up your mind. You remember her as child, how she would lift you up, kiss your cheek, say things to you, show you to your papa, he would laugh and smile at you. Then the soldiers came; you were all taken off in lorries and trains, a long journey, sickness, smells, tiredness and your grandpapa was taken off, you never saw him again, your grandmamma just stared at the floor as if her soul had been ripped out.
The women in the photograph look out at you; you stare back, want to speak to the woman in the picture who may have been your mother, want to ask her if she missed you when you were torn from her side, want to say you loved her and still do, how you want her back again. But you say nothing, not even a murmur, not even a sigh.
No, it is not her; you say to yourself, it is not her. No? Another voice asks inside you head. No, you are certain; it isn’t she there amongst those women. Mother would have smiled back; mother would have waved from behind the bared wire.
© 2010 Terry Collett
AboutTerry Collett has been writing since 1971 and published on and off since 1972. He has written poems, plays, and short stories. He is married with eight children and seven grandchildren. His work has b.. more..