And you came to visit me anyway.
What did you bring? It wasn't necessary. I don't want anything.

Well, well. I know, and you know. It will help like incense helps a dead one.
The end is near. Doctors don't talk, but they don't have to.

I've always had bad luck. Just look.
At the time, I found this old relative in America who would take me over there, all this had to happen to me.
I was so hopeful. At last, I would have a bit of joy in my life.

What do you know.... Czarniak?
You know well that he used to beat me.
Why didn't I walk away from him myself?
But who else would take me - the old woman?
Your family? As what? As a family member?
And who cooked their meals? Huh?

Where did I know your mom from? From the pre-war time, I think.
Just before the war, I visited my relatives in Krakow.
She worked in their tailor shop as an apprentice.
How old was she then? Fifteen or sixteen.
I was already married with a child.

That's right, at that time I lived in Podhale.
No. I became their aunt much later.

You don't understand anything?
Okay. I will tell you. My time is up soon anyway.

My family lived in a village in the Podhale region.
Not too many Jews there, but apart from some sporadic mischief, we were friendly with our Polish neighbors.
As a young girl, I always hunted after fun and excitement.
In the village, they called me the gadabout Helka.
My father was angry that I spent too much time with the goyim.
We were only a few Jews and had to go to school anyway, so he couldn't forbid that.

One Jontek caught my eye. And he fancied me too. We even dated for a while.
But some wretch told my father. He went to Jontek's father, and it was over.
They married me straight away to old Zwanziger, and Jontek was set up with that sickly Aśka.
Zwanziger was old, but he still managed to make me pregnant...
What happened to my son? I'll tell you later.

Zwanziger died when my son was seven years old.
It turned out that he wasn't that rich. I had to move back to my parents.
The only thing I got after him was a business partnership with a relative in Krakow.
That's why I went there from time to time. And so we lived like this until the war.

Jontek? Well, he got married. He did not have too much joy with this sickly Aśka.
She didn't even give him a baby. She was so sick. And she died just before the war.

Then the Germans came. They started crowding Jews into the ghetto.
I never looked like a Jew.
At the first chance, I run away from there.
At first, I hid near the village, and then Jontek took me in.

My son? He came to me in the village once.
But I told him to return to the ghetto. Why?
Do you know what kind of child comes from such a marriage with an old geezer?
He was not right in the head.
Before the war, it was bearable, although living with such a child was hard.
But when the Germans came ... And he looked very Jewish.

What was I supposed to do?
To risk that they will take me too?
And on top of that, put Jontek in trouble?

It's easy for you to turn your nose now.
You don't know what it was like during the occupation.

Feelings? Oh yes. I had feelings. First of all, the fear that they'll catch me.
That some bastard in the village will tell the Germans.
Because I wanted to live. Because finally, I could live with Jontek as husband and wife.
And what good it would be if I were gassed with my son, my parents, and siblings?
As it was, I had a least a few years with Jontek.

Yes. That's true. This fear was with me throughout the war.
Everyone in the village knew. But no one said anything.
Mostly I was afraid of Jontek's family.
Because Jontek inherited all family property from his father.
His younger brother might have been worried that if I had a child with Jontek, his chance to inherit the farm would go to hell.
Luckily, we had good relations with him and his family.
The brother's wife was not well, so I mothered their children.
They always preferred Aunt Hela to their parents because their father was always busy with something and angry, and the mother hardly said a word to them.
The most attached to me was their eldest, Anielka.

What happened? My crappy luck again.
The first time, this Zwanziger.
Then less than a year after the war, Jontek.
While drunk, he fell from the rock and cracked his head.
He dragged himself to the village, but when he finally collapsed, only the priest was needed just to give him the last sacrament.

What after that?
I agreed with Jontek's brother that they would take over the farm for a yearly fee and that I would pass it to his daughter in my will.

That's right. The same Anielka who visits me and invites me for Christmas every year.
She and her husband run the farm now, and everyone there calls me Aunt Hela.
Because Jontek was their uncle. They have always been nice to me.

Is this because they like me? Or because they are afraid I might change my will?
What's the difference? That's the only family I have left.

And now it doesn't matter anymore.

You better go. I'm tired.
And tell your mom not to send this broth again.
I do not eat it anyway, but it's a pity for it to go to waste. 

Alex Wieseltier - Uredte tanker
Alle rettigheder forbeholdes 2019
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