CYLA

2022-07-10

CYLA

So you're getting divorced? I knew that all that going to the psychologist was a big nothing. What can I tell you? You are a grown-up man in your forties, so don't expect any fatherly advice. With the hand on the heart, are you totally innocent in all this? Well? You see!
Of all this, I feel sorry for Ann. Well, well! I know it. You have made a deal. But did you ask your daughter if she likes it? Or children and fishes do not have a voice?
And don't come with what I did as a father. I have never divorced.
Are you saying that life is full of surprises? That you feel like a victim of fate?
What do you know about grievances? What do you know about fate? That expulsion from Poland? Do you feel uncomfortable in this country?
Is someone calling you names? Are they harassing you at work? Do not the neighbors like you?
That your life is a failure? That I was so lucky to find my ideal second part at the first shot? Indeed, mom and I always agreed, and we were fine. But she wasn't always so sweet. She could remind me of something that had happened long ago and drill a hole in my stomach. And it wasn't anything really important. But you couldn't explain it to her. Sometimes, I couldn't stand her. Sometimes, I didn't like her. But I always loved her. Although, it wasn't my first love.
I never told anyone. Do you want to know about it? Then listen.
Before the war, I lived in a small town near Ojców. Our family was poor, but they sent me to study in Krakow. Our Rabbi was very conservative, and he was a bit angry with my father. Because, according to the Rabbi, I had to be sent, like other young Jews, to the yeshiva, instead of being educated in a normal Polish school.
And indeed, when I returned to the town during the school breaks, I looked and acted like a sheygets. My father also regretted it, but it was he, who sent me to that school, so, as they say, he suffered in silence.
It wasn't that rigorously in our town. The Bund people also took care of the Jewish cultural life in town. A theatrical troupe came from time to time to the town and gave performances in Yiddish. Some music evenings were also organized, and young people could dance. The Jewish youth met there, despite the parents' positions, meanings, or religious views. Of course, youth from very religious families did it without their parents' knowledge. That was there I met Cyla. And she liked me too. She didn't come there too often because her father was a Rabbi. But you know how it is. If young people have a strong desire, they will always come up with something.
After a while, we met each other on other occasions than these music evenings. Of course, very hush-hush. Because it was not only her father, the rabbi, but my father, when he found out that I was meeting the daughter of a rabbi, he strictly forbade me to do it!
Because of differences in our social positions! Because the Rabbi was a puryc, and we were those poor bastards!
Yes. Not only the riches held the class division. Oh no!
Those poor religious Jews also knew their place! That I had a good education didn't matter at all!
But we still met each other. And we danced at the dance evenings. Sometimes very close to each other. One would even say too close. Somehow, I found a particular point on Cyla's body. Not a G-point, you idiot! Not in those times! Accidentally, I discovered that when you touched Cyla at a place under the left shoulder blade, she acted as if she got an electrical spark, which paralyzed her for a moment and her left calf muscle was visible shivering.
When I was alone with her, I did it quite often, and that poor girl couldn't even defend herself!
But our dating ended abruptly when the Rabbi became aware of it. My father was called in for a serious talk, and the Rabbi sent Cyla out of the town. Afterward, I found that she was in Warsaw until the outbreak of war. I was devastated.
Then came the war. Cyla returned to the town, and the Germans drove all Jews into the ghetto. There I met Cyla again. That time the Rabbi didn't have much to say anymore. The times were hard, and we were young. We even stopped hiding that we were a couple. The bad thing was that the Germans had Jews for nothing. Every day some dead corpses, food problems, and an uncertain future. Cyla and I decided to escape. Apparently, it was possible to pay someone to be led across the Russian border. At first, the Rabbi, Cyla's father, was against it. "The God Almighty will not allow hurting the Chosen People". In the end, he gave us money for the escape. But first, they married us. And we got a real Jewish wedding. It was the only time in my life that I saw my father beaming. Just think! He became a relative of the Rabbi himself! Such a yikhes!
But when they wanted to remove all Cyla's hair, we strongly opposed it. Her hair had a specific color. Not black. They were unique dark cocoa brown. And they felt in touch like silk. I could recognize her with closed eyes by this and the distinct smell of her skin. I still remember that sharp, specific smell in my nose.
We wandered to the Russian border for almost a week. Then I had to find people who would lead us through it. It turned out that we were not the only ones who wanted to get out of occupied Poland. We had to wait until it was our turn. Fortunately, we had money and could pay for the place to stay during the waiting time. It didn't bother us too much, because we were just married.
Then it was our turn. The smuggler said that he could only lead four people that night. We were the last two. Something was wrong, and the smuggler said he could only take us one by one. We agreed that he would first lead Cyla and come for me after that. Ten minutes after they went, I heard some dogs barking, some screams, and some rifle shots. Suddenly I noticed an oncoming truck full of German soldiers. I could escape, but I was afraid that they could discover me. Besides, I was waiting for the smuggler to find out how it went with Cyla. He did not come back. I returned to the village the next day. They knew it was a shootout from both the Russian and German sides and that my smuggler was killed. None could say what happened to the fugitives, but more dead people were there. The transfer point was "burned". I didn't know where to go, and I couldn't go back. I wandered in the area for two months. Then I met some partisans, and I survived there until the liberation.
I came back only to find out that all Jews were taken away. I tried to find out what happened with my family at the information center in Lodz. There I met your mother. She was lonely too. None of us had anyone to wait for. We got married, and I got a job with the municipality. One day they organized a farewell banquet for the Russian officers who were ordered to return to USSR. At the reception, we got a table with one of those Russian captains, who was with his wife. When we were sited at the table, I got a familiar smell in my nose. I looked at the captain's wife, and became numb! She had shiny, cocoa-brown hair!
I asked her for a dance. She nodded, and we danced as if nothing happened. But this hair! This smell! I tried the old trick under her left shoulder blade. Her body got a yank and became stiff, and her left calf began to shake strangely! I embraced her and whispered in her ear, "Cyla!" She shouted "No!" and fled the room. We didn't see her or that Russian captain anymore at the banquet.
Next day they were no longer in the city. The entire contingent of these Russian officers, with their "belongings", departed early in the morning.
So much I got from one of those new Russian officers, who came as their exchange.
If I searched for her afterward? For what purpose?
You were three months at that time.
Would I destroy one more family without knowing what would happen if I found her? No!
One does not return to the matters closed by fate.
One does it only to get a defeat.
Somehow, I survived it. So don't come to me and complain.

Alex Wieseltier
May 2020

Alex Wieseltier - Uredte tanker
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